Republished from the Jefferson City News Tribune
COLUMBIA — When asked if he was staying up at night worrying about Georgia running back Todd Gurley, Missouri linebacker Michael Scherer said he wasn’t having too many nightmares.
“He’s a great player, but I’m not losing any sleep,” Scherer said on Monday.
Maybe he knew something we didn’t.
Georgia, who the Tigers play Saturday at home, announced Thursday Gurley has been suspended indefinitely “during an ongoing investigation into an alleged violation of NCAA rules.”
“I’m obviously very disappointed,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said in the release. “The important thing for our team is to turn all our attention toward preparation for Missouri.”
Seth Emerson of the Macon Telegraph and Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports have cited sources saying the investigation pertains to Gurley receiving money in exchange for his autograph or likeness. Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel was suspended half a game in 2013 because of a similar investigation.
Gurley trails only Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon in yards per carry (8.2) and is sixth in the nation in total rushing yards (773). Gurley leads the Southeastern Conference in touchdowns (nine), rushing yards per game (154) and all-purpose yards (973).
The 6-foot-1, 226-pound junior ranks in the top three in 100-yard games, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns in school history and is considered a serious contender for this season’s Heisman, awarded to the best player in college football.
“That’s what kind of feeds their offense, when he gets a big play and he’s breaking five, six tackles, jumping over people and running 90 yards down the sideline,” Scherer said of Gurley. “That’s what fuels their offense and keeps them moving forward.”
If Gurley were to miss Saturday’s game, it would be the second straight year Missouri has faced a Gurley-less Bulldogs team. Last October, when Missouri defeated Georgia 41-26 in Athens, Ga., Gurley was out with an ankle injury.
Should he sit, Gurley would be replaced by backup Nick Chubb, coming off SEC co-freshman of the week honors after his 78 yards and a score on eight carries against Vanderbilt. Chubb underwent thumb surgery last month and has never rushed for more than 11 times in a college game.
Keith Marshall, another Georgia running back, is out Saturday with a knee injury. Running back Sony Michel injured his shoulder two weeks ago. He sat against Vanderbilt and was initially expected to miss a month. Freshman A.J. Turman has yet to return from offseason foot surgery.
Missouri’s defense has been less than stellar. In their five games, the Tigers have allowed a 100-yard rusher in four. Missouri’s 144.6 yards per game allowed on the ground is 57th in the country.