Gurshall, Gurshall, Gurshall: The next great duo? - WDAM.COM - TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports

Gurshall, Gurshall, Gurshall: The next great duo?

Posted: Updated:
Georgia running back Todd Gurley (3) leads the SEC in rushing and is one half of a deadly tandem. (Source: Georgia Athletics) Georgia running back Todd Gurley (3) leads the SEC in rushing and is one half of a deadly tandem. (Source: Georgia Athletics)

(RNN) - Here's a weekly look at five of the SEC's top performers in Week 5 and who to watch in Week 6.

Top performers:

1. Todd Gurley/Keith Marshall, RB, Georgia

Known by some as "Gurshall," this duo is every bit as fearsome as other running back tandems of the past with cutesy nicknames – like "Thunder and Lightning" for USC's LenDale White and Reggie Bush, "Fast and Furious" for Alabama's Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson and "Mr. Inside" and "Mr. Outside" for Army's Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis.

Each of those other duos produced a Heisman Trophy winner, except the Army pair, which produced two. It's too early to know if "Gurshall" (which rhymes with Herschel, as in Walker, another Heisman winner and a pretty fair Georgia running back) will produce another recipient, but we do know is it produces its fair share of touchdowns.

Gurley has been getting the most publicity since gaining 100 yards and two touchdowns in Georgia's season opener. Marshall took longer to gain attention, but has been just as impressive. Gurley leads the SEC in rushing yards, yards per game and touchdowns and is second in average yards per carry. Marshall is first in yards per carry, third in yards and tied for fourth in touchdowns.

The only other team in the conference with two players in the Top 15 is Auburn with Onterio McCalebb and Tre Mason, who rank at or near the bottom of that list in each category.

Last week against Tennessee, Gurley ran for 130 yards and three touchdowns, while Marshall had 164 yards and two touchdowns. Both had two touchdowns in the previous week against Vanderbilt as well.

It goes without saying, but this duo needs to be watched every week.

2. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

Another player who has to be watched every week is Manziel, who not only leads the Aggies' offense, he pretty much IS the Aggies' offense.

Manziel averages 273 yards passing a game – fourth in the SEC – and 95 yards rushing per game – fifth in the SEC. A perfect example of Manziel's importance to the Aggies was on display this week. In A&M's 58-10 win over Arkansas, "Johnny Football" set an SEC record with 557 yards of total offense – 453 passing and 104 rushing. He produced four touchdowns and was named the SEC's offensive player of the week.

He had more yards individually than Arkansas had as a team, but of the three teams A&M has beaten, none has a win over an FBS school. That will change if the Aggies can beat Ole Miss this week in their first SEC road game. It could be their easiest conference road game. The others are against Auburn, Mississippi State and Alabama and are in consecutive weeks.

3. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina

South Carolina seems to forget that feeding Lattimore the ball means winning. Lattimore didn't get a lot of looks in the first half and South Carolina found itself down 17-7 to Kentucky. He got plenty of carries in the second half and South Carolina outscored the Wildcats 31-0.

It could be a coincidence. Nevertheless, Steve Spurrier seems to know what he's doing. He said at halftime the team needed to play smarter and then started giving the ball to Lattimore, and the Gamecocks rode his 120 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns to victory.

That should be the plan in every game.

4. A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama

The only way to describe McCarron is blindingly efficient. He ranks second in the conference in passing efficiency, second only to Georgia's Aaron Murray and is tied with Murray for second in the conference with 12 touchdowns.

He's one of only two SEC starting quarterbacks to not have an interception on the season. The other is Manziel. McCarron is fifth in yards and completion percentage. While he won't be climbing the yardage list any time soon, the completion percentage and efficiency marks are areas where he could get better.

Unlike the other quarterbacks with similar marks, McCarron isn't counted on to win games for Alabama. The Crimson Tide's running game and crushing defense don't allow many opportunities for that. Most of McCarron's throws are short, quick and on target. He is rarely under pressure and isn't prone to bad decisions when he is.

McCarron has thrown at least two touchdowns in four of Alabama's five games, but has thrown for more than 200 yards only twice. It isn't flashy, but that is perfect for what Alabama does.

The Crimson Tide doesn't make many big plays (though McCarron did have an 85-yard touchdown throw to Kenny Bell against Florida Atlantic) and a different receiver gets the bulk of McCarron's throws each game. There is, however, a lot to be said for not making mistakes and McCarron's is close to perfect.

5. Sanders Commings, CB, Georgia

This week marked the second time a Georgia defender stepped up in the fourth quarter and forced two turnovers to seal a win. The first was Jarvis Jones against Missouri, and Commings followed suit by picking off two passes late in the fourth quarter in a 51-44 win over Tennessee, the final one sealed the win with seven seconds in the game.

The performance earned him co-defensive player of the week honors with Ole Miss' Denzel Nkemdiche, who had 11 tackles and two forced fumbles against Alabama.

Georgia has been relying on its defense to save it late in games, which could be a problem down the road.

Who to watch for in Week 6:

1. Mike Gillislee, RB, Florida

LSU hasn't been tested by a quality offense this season and Florida is next up. Questions surrounding LSU have mostly been focused on its offense (more on this later) but the Tigers' defense could be suspect as well.

Florida not only brings an efficient, mistake-free offense, it has the SEC's second-leading rusher in Gillislee. Only Gurley averages more yards per game than Gillislee and all of the backs ahead of him in yardage have played five games while Florida has played four.

Quarterback Jeff Driskel hasn't answered every challenge thrown his way, but expect the Gators to lean on Gillislee to open more options for him.

2. Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU

The only gauge of Mettenberger's ability to lead the Tigers came in a 12-10 win over Auburn where he threw for 169 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. LSU has made some changes since then, including Mettenberger's decision to shave his moustache.

Statistics on the effect of facial hair on a football team are inconclusive, but the stats on Florida's defense are pretty solid. Comparing the Gators to Auburn, Florida stands sixth in the conference in run defense and Auburn is last. The Gators are fourth in passing defense, where Auburn is sixth. But the biggest difference in the two is in passing efficiency. Auburn's defense is 10th in the SEC and Florida is second, behind Alabama.

LSU will need to use its running game and keep Mettenberger out of difficult third-down situations, where LSU has been on a steady decline. The Tigers were 6-for-18 on third down against Auburn and 5-for-12 against Towson. Florida held Texas A&M to 4-for-14 on third downs and Tennessee went 6-for-16 against the Gators.

3. Connor Shaw, South Carolina, QB

South Carolina is going to need everything working Saturday to beat Georgia, but the play of Connor Shaw will likely determine where the game goes.

Lattimore should be – and probably will be – the focus the primary weapon for the Gamecocks, but he'll also be the primary target for Georgia's defense. That means Shaw will have to deliver to provide the offense balance and keep Georgia from attacking the line.

The South Carolina defense will be under the most stress as it faces an offense that is first in the SEC in rushing, first in total offense and tied for first in scoring. South Carolina's rushing defense and scoring defense are both second in the conference, so something will have to give.

If it gives in Georgia's favor and turns into a high-scoring affair, Shaw's role will take on even greater importance.

4. Kiehl Frazier, Auburn, QB

Auburn is last in the conference in total offense, passing offense, scoring offense and passing efficiency. Arkansas' defense has the same rank in those categories.

Auburn has had two weeks to prepare for the Razorbacks – and to correct Frazier's bad decision making and turnover problems – and the Tigers desperately need a win. Auburn entered the year likely considering Arkansas a team it would lose to, but now has new life thanks to the Razorbacks' demise.

Bowl eligibility is a real concern for Auburn at this point and losing to Arkansas would put it further in doubt. If Frazier can gain some consistency, and take care of the ball better, Auburn has several games that could end up in the win column.

5. James Franklin, QB, Missouri

Missouri will need at least two conference wins if it wants to make a bowl game, and Vanderbilt would be a good opportunity to get the first one. Missouri isn't particularly good in any statistical category, but neither is Vanderbilt.

Franklin has had some shoulder problems and Missouri hasn't looked very good. Vanderbilt could pose a lot of problems, but if Franklin can hit his receivers against Vanderbilt's secondary, Missouri should be OK.

There's only one problem with that theory: Vanderbilt's passing defense is third in the SEC.

Copyright 2012 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.