Is Gurley the Best Back Nebraska’s Seen Yet?
For years, the Big Ten has had a reputation as a power rushing conference. That seemed true again in 2013 as a Nebraska faced a number of outstanding running backs. You might think that would make facing Georgia's Todd Gurley no big deal. Upon closer inspection he might be the best NU sees all year.
Within the conference the top rushers were Michigan State's Jeremy Langford, Minnesota's David Cobb, Penn State's Zach Zwinak, and Iowa's Mark Weisman all surpassed Gurley in terms of rushing yards for the season. Wyoming's Shaun Wick and South Dakota State's Zach Zenner did as well. But there's more to the story. Gurley appeared in only 9 games. In that time, he also managed to rack up more receiving yards than every one of those backs.
What to Make of Zenner
When you take into account the yards from scrimmage per game and touchdowns per game, only South Dakota State's Zach Zenner outproduced Gurley. While Zenner did it by a considerable margin (over 2,000 rushing yards and 25 scores),it was against a lot of FCS competition - a far cry from the SEC. So whether Gurley is tops depends on what you make of Zenner. Danny Woodhead showed you can't completely dismiss the production of lower division players.
We're Talking About Practice
Of course, Nebraska may have faced a better running back in practice. Ameer Abdullah averaged more yards per game than Gurley. Gurley had more touchdowns but some of that might be attributable to the presence of Imani Cross on NU's roster. Cross scored 7 touchdowns from tbe 2 yard line or closer. Abdullah might just as easily have done so, but NU instead opted for the battering ram.
If Gurley isn't the best back the Huskers have seen, he's not far from it. His 6.3 yards per carry were tops for the group. He was the most prolific receiver. If his durability is a question mark, he's now had 4+ weeks of rest. Gurley's perhaps the major reason that Georgia is favored in the game. His 232 lbs. frame will make him more than a handful to bring down.