Thursday, November 29, 2012
Take Two: Gurley or Yeldon?
By Chris Low and Edward Aschoff
SEC bloggers Chris Low and Edward Aschoff will occasionally give their takes on a burning question facing the league. We'll both have strong opinions, but not necessarily the same view. We'll let you decide which blogger is right.
Two of the best freshman running backs in college football will be on display Saturday in the SEC championship game when Alabama and Georgia square off at 4 p.m. ET in the Georgia Dome. Today's Take Two topic: Who would you take first -- the Bulldogs' Todd Gurley or the Crimson Tide's T.J. Yeldon?
Take 1: Edward Aschoff
There's no question that Gurley has been the SEC's best rookie running back. In fact, it's not really close. Gurley got things going early in Georgia's opener with his 100 rushing yards and two touchdowns on just eight carries. He also returned a kickoff 100 yards for another score. Since then, Gurley has rushed for at least 100 yards in six other games. That makes seven on the season, which is four more than Yeldon. He also has four multi-touchdown games, compared to Yeldon's two. Gurley is averaging 6.5 yards per carry, leads all SEC running backs with 1,138 yards, and is tied for first among league running backs with 14 touchdowns. By the way, like Yeldon, he's having to share carries, but that hasn't hampered his production. And unlike Yeldon, he isn't doing all of this with a fantastic offensive line. His line was almost stitched together before the season, yet Gurley has consistently been not just the SEC's best freshman back, but the league's best back overall with his ability to hit the home-run play and grind out the tough, extra yards.
Take 2: Chris Low
First off, I'd like to opt for the easy way out here and take both guys. I'm a big fan of Gurley and what he's accomplished this season, but Yeldon is more explosive, more versatile and more of a threat no matter what the down and distance. He's already surpassed the freshman rushing totals of Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson at Alabama, and still has two games remaining. Yeldon has rushed for 847 yards and scored 11 touchdowns, including one on a 28-yard screen pass to beat LSU this month. He's averaging 6.6 yards per carry, which is tops among the league's rushing leaders. As good as he is in space at making defenders miss and turning shorter gains into bigger gains, he's just as good at running between the tackles and getting the tough yards. The 6-2, 216-pound Yeldon leads the team with 22 rushes of 12 yards or longer this season, and has three 100-yard rushing games. Even though he's only caught 10 passes this season, he's an excellent receiver, and you can bet that Alabama will look to get the ball to him out of the backfield even more down the road. In short, Yeldon is a do-it-all type of player and the type of player that makes everybody else around him a little better.