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November 29, 2012
If freshman running back Todd Gurley is even the teensiest bit nervous about his role on Saturday's big stage, in the SEC title game against second-ranked Alabama, he's not showing it.
As he prepared for his final interview with the local media on Wednesday, Gurley appeared calm and remarkably at ease as he texted a friend, before answering questions about the Bulldogs' impending title shot.
"I know it's going to be a big game. Every year the SEC Championship game - it's always big," Gurley shrugged. "I'm just going to go out there and try to do what I've been doing. It's another big game, just like every other game was. There's no use to blow it up and make it bigger than it is. It's just two good teams going against each other. It's going to be a hard-fought football game."
For those familiar with Gurley's soft-spoken demeanor, hearing him talk about Saturday's contest in such a way certainly does not come as a surprise.
Gurley - along with fellow freshman running back Keith Marshall - have been very quiet and humble about their respective successes.
So although others have been quick to offer their praises, about all the feedback you'll get from the pair is a polite shrug and nod.
"I think they'll be fine, I really do," head coach Mark Richt said. "It's been a long season and they've already had a long season under their belts, so I don't see them as freshmen any more. I really don't. I think they're going to be OK."
"Gurshall" - as the two have been nicknamed - have been nothing short of spectacular.
Combined, the pair has rushed 283 times for 1,858 yards and have scored 22 touchdowns for the Bulldogs, with Gurley becoming just the second true freshman, other than the legendary Herschel Walker, to run for 1,000 yards (1,138).
Their accolades don't stop there.
Earlier this year, Gurley became just the first player to rush for more than 100 yards against No. 3 Florida after he went for 118 and a touchdown. Against Tennessee, he and Marshall combined for 294 yards and scored five times.
Marshall averaged 16.4 yards per carry against the Vols, rushing for a career-best 164 yards with Gurley adding 130 and scoring three times.
All total, the duo has combined for 12 runs of 25 yards or more, eight of which went for touchdowns. But Gurley is quick to point out, none of those numbers matter against the Crimson Tide, who besides Florida and South Carolina, will offer the Bulldogs their biggest defensive test to date.
"It's a great defense. We've played against great defenses all year," Gurley said. "Florida was a great defense. It's another big game for us, but we've got to try and just treat it like any other game. If we just do what the coaches tell us, I feel we'll be fine." The fact that Georgia's 3-4 defense is very similar to that of the Crimson Tide should at least give Gurley an idea of what's in store.
"It helps us a lot. I know Coach (Todd) Grantham and Alabama, they have the same defense, really, so as far as the defense and getting the scheme down, we're kind of used to it," Gurley said. "It should be a good game. I just have to do my assignments. I've just got to be ready to do whatever it takes."