Editor’s note: Each day between now and Georgia’s Capital One Bowl date with Nebraska, we will review the season for a key Bulldogs player and attempt to project what’s next. Today we’ll look at tailback Keith Marshall.
No. 4 Keith Marshall
109 carries, 723 yards, 8 TDs in 2012
Role in 2012: The highest-rated prospect among Georgia’s 2012 signees, the speedy Marshall enjoyed a solid freshman season while sharing carries with fellow freshman tailback Todd Gurley.
The good: Marshall’s breakaway speed made him the best home-run threat in a Georgia backfield in years. Among his eight touchdown runs this season were bursts of 75, 72, 62 and 52 yards. That helped him form a phenomenal 1-2 punch with Gurley, who also possesses impressive speed, but is a better option as a between-the-tackles runner. However, Marshall did a fine job of that himself and still ranked among the top freshman rushers in the SEC.
The bad: He is certainly Georgia’s top speed back, but Marshall isn’t in the same class as Gurley as a physical runner -- at least not yet. He carried the ball only twice against Alabama’s punishing defense last Saturday for gains of 1 and 2 yards. The “Gurshall” combination is probably the best freshman backfield duo in school history, but the backs are not truly interchangeable at this point.
Crystal ball: It will be interesting to see how and if Marshall’s role changes as he matures physically. He’s never going to be as big as Gurley nor as capable of plowing over defenders, but he could potentially add some size and become a more physical runner without sacrificing any speed. Regardless, he and Gurley should remain as the cornerstones of Georgia’s offense over the next two seasons after breathing life into the Bulldogs’ underwhelming running game.