Obviously Georgia’s decision to have Todd Gurley return kickoffs paid off handsomely in the season-opening win over Clemson this past Saturday. But whether Gurley will continue to be the Bulldogs’ primary kick returner remains a matter of hot debate.
Offensive special teams coordinator John Lilly said that it’s an issue that continues to come up during coaches’ meetings.
“There has been a lot of discussion among all of us about that,” said Lilly, who also coaches tight ends. “You know, depending on which day you ask everybody, some days it’s, ‘oh, yeah’ and other days, it’s ‘no.’ The good thing is he’s hungry to be back there, which certainly helps it.”
Gurley, who is considered a Heisman Trophy candidate as a tailback, was back deep for all of Georgia’s kickoff returns against Clemson. He returned just one, which was four yards deep in the end zone, and took it all the back for what is officially recorded as a 100-yard touchdown.
Gurley also had a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in his first game as a freshman in 2012 but eventually was relieved of that responsibility as his prowess as a tailback became more evident.
“We cheesed up,” Richt said. “We decided we can’t put him back there because something may happen and all that. this year I was like, ‘we’re putting our best players on special teams’ and Todd’s one of them.”
Georgia has also been working freshmen Isaiah McKenzie and Sony Michel as kick returners, but neither got a chance this past Saturday.
Clemson never kicked again to Gurley after his touchdown return. The first two were deep touchbacks and the last one was a short blooper that upback Brendan Douglas returned for 10 yards.
“I remember watching Herschel Walker returning kickoffs on television,” Lilly said. “You see that kind of with a dominant player or a dominant back. Obviously (Gurley) is hungry to do it. He did a great job of being patient, too, because he would’ve liked to have brought them all out. … We got a hanging curve ball there later on and he hit it out of the park.”