Posted: 9:24 am Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Will Todd Gurley rank one day in your all-time dream Bulldogs backfield? 

By Bill King

Will Todd Gurley one day rank as one of UGA's greatest running backs? (Sean Taylor / UGA)

Will Todd Gurley one day rank as one of UGA’s greatest running backs? (Sean Taylor / UGA)

Welcome to the new location for the Junkyard Blawg! In case you missed it, here’s my most recent post …

The other day a Bulldogs fan asked me to look into my crystal ball a bit and predict whether potential Heisman Trophy candidate Todd Gurley will go down in the annals of UGA football as one of the program’s greatest backs.

My answer was that, if he is 100 percent healthy this season and remains that way, he certainly would at least merit being in the conversation.

Gurley definitely is one of the most talented running backs I’ve ever seen playing in Athens. The only problem is we’ve never seen him fully healthy for an entire season. However, even at less than full-speed he’s an awesome back; that last drive against Tech last year was one of the most imposing performances I’ve seen by a Georgia tailback.

If he has the kind of season he’s capable of having in 2014, Gurley likely would be a strong contender in the Heisman voting. And as far as all-time UGA backs go, he’d certainly be jostling with Garrison Hearst for place of honor just behind Hershel Walker.

As Mark Richt told UGA fans in Savannah last week, “When Todd’s healthy and Todd’s in shape he’s as good as anybody I’ve ever been around, up close. I saw film of Herschel Walker, I’ve seen film of other people. But to just say I’ve coached him or had a close-up look at the guy, he could be as good as any of them. Hopefully, he’ll be healthy and if he’s healthy he’ll be in good condition. He loves to play in the big games. He’s a good player.”

It’s just a shame that, unless he’s hurt and misses some games, this is probably the last year the Dogs will have Gurley. Just think what kind of numbers he could put up in a four-season UGA career!

Talking about where Gurley might rank among all those great backs who’ve played for the Red and Black got me to thinking about a piece I wrote five years ago about picking an all-time dream Bulldogs backfield.

Back in May 2009, I wrote this:

Garrison Hearst ranks just behind Herschel Walker in the UGA tailback pantheon. (UGA)

Garrison Hearst ranks just behind Herschel Walker in the UGA tailback pantheon. (UGA)

If you could pick and choose from throughout the ages, who’d be in your all-time Bulldogs dream backfield? Would you try to get Trippi or Sinkwich in there with Herschel? Who’d play fullback? Quarterback?

Particularly at running back, there’s an embarrassment of riches from which to choose. Besides the obvious No. 34, fellow Heisman winner Frank Sinkwich and his 1942 backfield mate Charley Trippi, there’s Willie McClendon, Musa Smith, Hearst, Kevin McLee, Jimmy Poulos, Rodney Hampton, Lars Tate, Terrell Davis, Glynn Harrison, Robert Edwards, Tim Worley and the recently departed Knowshon Moreno, just to rattle off a few.

Stellar fullbacks available include Bill Hartman (longtime assistant coach and Bulldog Club scholarship fund namesake), Theron Sapp (the famed “Drought Breaker” and the fourth player to have his jersey number retired, along with Herschel, Sinkwich and Trippi), Ronnie “Bull” Jenkins, Brad Johnson, Keith Henderson, Mack Strong, Verron Haynes and recent Dog Brannan Southerland.

Then there are the wingbacks, flankers and others playing a position that is now more receiver but originally was one of the halfbacks, including the great Jimmy Orr, Horace King, Gene Washington, Andre Hastings, Brice Hunter, Hines Ward (who was technically a split end after playing tailback and quarterback but often lined up in the slot and still sometimes ran the ball), Terrence Edwards (who went back and forth from split end to flanker), Mohamed Massaquoi (likewise) and star flanker A.J. Green.

You couldn't do better than Andy Johnson for a running quarterback. (UGA)

You couldn’t do better than Andy Johnson for a running quarterback. (UGA)

Quarterbacks? Again, lots to choose from, depending on whether you want primarily a running attack (a natural inclination with those tailbacks), a passing attack, or something more balanced like Richt employs. Among your many choices: Johnny Rauch, Zeke Bratkowski, Fran Tarkenton, Larry Rakestraw, Andy Johnson, Matt Robinson, Ray Goff, Buck Belue, Eric Zeier, Mike Bobo, David Greene, D.J. Shockley and Matthew Stafford.

So, who to choose?

My brother Jonathan, a true believer in the running game, said he would “run the wishbone with Herschel, Knowshon and Verron Haynes.”

My other brother, Tim, who thinks outside the box, would go back to the future by running the old wing-T offense (precursor to today’s “wildcat”) with Sinkwich taking the snaps at tailback (technically the quarterback was mostly used for blocking in that offense), Herschel at the other running back position and Trippi or Moreno at wingback. This actually would be a pretty balanced offense since “Flatfoot Frankie” threw for 2,331 yards and rushed for 2,271 yards during his three-year career, scoring 60 touchdowns — 30 rushing and 30 passing. Tim says if he needed a blocking fullback, he’d use the junior-year Southerland, and if Sinkwich were in a passing mode, “I’d have him throw to Hines and A.J.”

Tim’s buddy Van would run a more traditional Dooley-style offense with Herschel at tailback, “Pulpwood” Smith at fullback and Poulos as the other running back. His QB would be Johnson, backed by Greene.

My high school classmate Johnny, who actually favors defensive players, limited his choices to those he saw play but couldn’t limit himself to just four backs in his backfield. Among his choices: tailbacks Harrison (“when he was given the ball, Gliding Glynn did more with it than most other running backs at UGA”) and Hearst (“work horse with results”); fullbacks Ronnie Stewart from the 1981 team (“who do you think opened up those holes?”), Henderson, Haynes and Southerland; and among his quarterbacks was his “personal favorite,” Andy Johnson (one of our Athens High School classmates). Moreno, Johnny said, “left the Dawgs too early to make the dream team.”

OK, now to my own dream backfield.

I’d alternate between the I-formation and more or less a pro set and, of course, Herschel would be a given at tailback. To spell him, I’d have Hearst, who ranks right behind Herschel in most of the Dogs’ rushing records. Just for fun, occasionally I’d load the backfield with both of them.

My change-of-pace back would be the 5-10, 185-pound Sinkwich (especially good for halfback passes) or the 6-0, 186-pound Trippi. With the size of defensive players these days, I’d want to try to get them the ball in open space.

My fullback would be Strong, with Haynes spelling him and giving me another running threat. And I’d have Hines and Orr rotating as my flankers. I’d cheat a bit by adopting the old Dooley two-quarterback system, with Andy directing my running attack and either Tarkenton or Greene chunking the seed.

(2014 update: I might insert A.J. ahead of Orr in my flanker rotation, and Aaron Murray probably now would merit a spot in my QB rotation, too.)

I think we’d score a lot of points.

Your turn. …

ANOTHER FAVORITE DAWG

Shannon Vreeland has been a winner for UGA and the U.S. Olympics team. (UGA)

Shannon Vreeland has been a winner for UGA and the U.S. Olympics team. (UGA)

Congratulations to UGA and U.S. Olympics swimming star Shannon Vreeland, chosen as the 2013-14 Southeastern Conference H. Boyd McWhorter Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Vreeland will receive a $15,000 postgraduate scholarship from AT&T and the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

Vreeland, from Overland Park, Kan., is a double-major in Economics and International Affairs and is on target to graduate in December. She currently holds a 3.83 grade point average. She’s also a member of the UGA Honors Program.

And, in the pool, she placed second in the 200 freestyle, fifth in the 100 freestyle and sixth in the 500 freestyle at the NCAAs as the Lady Bulldogs won their second straight national championship. She came in second on the 800 freestyle relay, third on the 400 medley relay and fourth on the 400 freestyle relay at the NCAAs.

Vreeland, a team captain, won the 200 freestyle and placed second in the 100 and 500 freestyle at the SEC Championships as the Lady Bulldogs won their fifth straight title. She finished first on the 400 and 800 freestyle relays and second on the 400 medley relay at the SEC meet.

Oh, and she also won a gold medal at the 2012 Olympics and three gold medals at the 2013 World Championships.

“I am honored and humbled to receive this recognition,” Vreeland said in a UGA news release. “I have coaches, teammates, support staff, professors, classmates and friends who have helped me grow so much during my time in Athens. You are cared for here on so many levels. I’m grateful for what we’ve done in the pool and equally grateful for the educational opportunity I’ve had. I’m pleased to accept this award on behalf of the University of Georgia and everyone associated with Georgia swimming and diving.”

Shannon is what college athletics is all about!

I’m going to be off a few days, but the Blawg will be back next week. In the meantime, keep those Junkyard Mail letters coming to junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

18 comments
ColumbusDawg
ColumbusDawg

DIT says, "If Mason has a better than expected year"... First off, You can underestimate Mason at your own peril. The guy is a winner. He did enough to win in Gator Bowl, his hungover receiving corps,(and Lynch), lost that game. His tailback was only about 75%. No Dawg wanted to be in Jax after injuries and disapointing season. Everyone can also draw conclusions for 2014 based on 2013 results at your own peril. Mason will have all of the forgotten(by Bama and Auburn folks), receivers that were inured. Mitchell and Scott-Wesley are two of the absolute fasted receivers in the SEC. Period. Everyone wants to jab Mason for overthrowing Bennett on his one handed catch. If it had been Mitchell it would have hit him right in the bread basket for a TD. While I doubt that Auburn has forgotten about Keith Marshall running up and down the field, wait till they get a load of Nick Chubb. Many, including myself, predict that he will take SEC by storm as freshmn just as Gurley did in 2012. The Dawgs run game will be stopped by no one. Gurley will not do it all by himself. Pruitt has made the culture in the football program very different. This will carry over to the offense as well. I predict that Pruitt is just what Richt needed to be the "Sargent of Arms" just like Van Gorder was in early going.      

OKDawg
OKDawg

If he really want to be mentioned for Heisman, Gurley needs to shoot for a Heisman type season in production, touchdowns, yards, his performances in the biggest games, and so on. Maybe compare to Ingram or another rb who won it.

OKDawg
OKDawg

I think Gurley's history will be determined by how healthy he stays this year. Of course, he will also need to help the team win a lot of games and put up some Heisman type numbers to win a Heisman, I don't see it, because he'll be splitting carries with other backs, and also he seems to get hurt easily and miss a few games. 

Legends are creating by winning Championships, and competing for National Championships, ala Herschel Walker. This team will be lucky to win 8 games with the sorry defense, and the schedule, you have the the 2 openers against Clemson and South Carolina, and then the road trip that likely includes 2 losses, then you get Florida and Auburn later. You also have inexperience at the Qb position. Most likely, looking at a 6-7 type season, or a 7-5 at best.

RED DOG 77
RED DOG 77

I hope you are right "top row dawg" we were working on that when Bill changed the whole shootin' match to this new format..............I hope dawgfan stays under his rock and a few more as well........RED

Top Row Dawg
Top Row Dawg

Hopefully this eliminates crappy commentators, or at least you can police them better. 

HotDawg
HotDawg

Bill,

I.T. finally updated your blog.

Does this mean the blog monster is also fixed?

Delusionaldog
Delusionaldog

Your "dream" backfield?


Hasn't that word been banned yet?

Delusionaldog
Delusionaldog

I think the answer to the questions is a big fat maybe.


Therefore, so what?

DIT
DIT

It will be interesting this year on what kind of a year Gurley can have. The O-Line just have to open a little hole and he will make something out of it. However, a Herschel he is not. Everyone in the stadium knew Herschel was getting the ball and still, no one could stop him. You can't get away with that type of mentality now a days. If Mason can't pass the ball all defenses will focus on Gurley. If Mason has a better than expected year. Gurley's numbers will be amazing. Of course that's just my opinion and we all know what opinions are....

KeepOnSmilingWetWillie
KeepOnSmilingWetWillie

Saw Andy Johnson almost lead the Dawgs to a huge win over Bama in T-town in 74. He was a goodun.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Heisman winners don't regularly pull themselves out of games either.

He does need to learn how to "carry the load".

Don't get me wrong, though....he is a great RB.

Go Dawgs!

HotDawg
HotDawg

Respect your thought process, but disagree with final record.

These Dawgs are better than that.

The biggest question mark is DB's....or the lack of numbers with attrition.

RED DOG 77
RED DOG 77

@HotDawg Great to see you here, hope some of our other "buds" from the other format shows up..........seems like we were beginning to make some progress against the "trolls and haters"

KeepOnSmilingWetWillie
KeepOnSmilingWetWillie

You're correct. In the SEC it's not what you do Well but how Well you can do what you don't do Well since the DC's will take away your strength.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Thanks...back at ya RED....

Go Dawgs!

RED DOG 77
RED DOG 77

@KeepOnSmilingWetWillie Yes, and I saw Andy Johnson run slap over me in N.Ga. state simifinals...........He was the Tim Tebow of the day.........even in high school