Hand him the ...

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Brendan Bures | NCAA.com | September 2, 2014

Off to a running start

Hand him the ... Kenny Hill's record-setting start

Each week of the college football season NCAA.com will take a look at the most impressive individual performances. Some weeks it may be one player who stands head and shoulders above everyone else. This week, Texas A&M's Kenny Hill and Georgia's Todd Gurley stood out from the crowd.

Before we attempt to describe Todd Gurley’s phoenix-rising return to college football Saturday against Clemson, let’s appropriately begin here:

While it’s a notable play for Gurley’s nitrous-oxide acceleration through the gaping hole created by his teammates on the kickoff, Gurley’s ending to the play -- coolly dismissing the Clemson defender off his shoulders like a porch-dweller smacks away a pestering fly -- is what matters. Georgia was down 21-14 to Clemson at this point, a game still in legitimate contention, and with Gurley’s one touchdown return, the game suddenly was not up for debate. Georgia had stolen all the momentum and would run away to the win.

What Gurley did on that play was broadcast an announcement so demoralizing that Clemson couldn’t recover afterward. Gurley’s message? He’s back.

Todd Gurley
Georgia | RB | Jr.
Week 1 Statistics

ATT YDS TD LG
Rush 15 198 3 51
Kick Return 1 100 1 100
Highlights | Social Game
With 293 all-purpose yards (a Georgia school record), a career-high 198 rushing yards on 15 carries (Clemson’s entire team had 102 rushing yards on 45 carries) and four total touchdowns, Gurley defeated the Tigers nearly single-handed. His fellow Bulldogs certainly helped, but Gurley and his 13.2 yards per carry was the engine that drove Georgia’s offense down the throat of Clemson’s defense.

We might proclaim Gurley’s performance as a dismissal of his injury-laden sophomore season, but instead we’re reminded of it by this game. Gurley is known for his vicious running style -- a human cannonball perpetually smashing downhill -- but this game we saw something slightly different. He runs with earnest desperation now, like a player petrified of never playing football again. Matched with his latent talent, Gurley is dangerous in a way he’s never been before.

Admittedly, we briefly considered Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill for this week’s Heisman consideration, but Hill’s showing Thursday was shocking more so for shattering expectations rather than his on-field contributions (which, still, were quite great). But Gurley ran away and through and over and around Clemson’s defense in a way that demonstrated he’s the clear Heisman frontrunner after Week 1 of the college football regular season.

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