Georgia's Chubb ready and able to shoulder the load, but should he?
His dominating performance of year ago speaks volumes about whether Georgia tailback Nick Chubb is capable of shouldering most of the offensive load.
But should he?
Necessity forced Chubb into that role in 2014, following the injury to Todd Gurley and his subsequent suspension and maladies that limited Sony Michel and others. Chubb was essentially left alone to pick up the burden and responded like a champion, totaling 1,547 yards and 14 touchdowns in just eight starts to run away with first-team All-SEC honors and stamp himself into Heisman Trophy consideration this season.
An impressive blend of speed, size and elusiveness, Chubb registered three games of at least 30 carries and finished the season with eight consecutive games with at least 100 yards, including two efforts of better than 200 yards. His sterling average of 7.1 yards per carry was tops among the SEC’s top 10 rushers.
“I knew the kid was pretty good,” Bulldogs coach Mark Richt told the website DawgNation this week. “I didn’t realize the kind of stamina he had. I thought he would be mentally and physically tough because of the program (Cedartown High School in Georgia) he came out of. But to carry the ball as many times as he did by need more than by design, he was able to handle it. He was able to stay pretty healthy throughout.”
Said Chubb, according to the website: “If I have to do it, I’ll do it.”
Richt long has been known as a man of strong faith, but not even he would tempt fate by again asking so much of Chubb. The reality is that the SEC is an extremely physical conference loaded with talented defensive players and that every running back only has a finite amount of carries in them before their bodies succumb to the pounding.
It’s unlikely Richt will unnecessarily risk his team’s chances at an SEC championship and Chubb’s own professional future when he has a healthy Michel back in the fold now, as well as senior Keith Marshall, junior Brendan Douglas and possibly even third-year sophomore A.J. Turman to spell Chubb on occasion.
Michel, a sophomore, rushed for 410 yards and five touchdowns last fall, including a 155-yard effort in the 66-0 win over Troy. He figured to be more of a factor before suffering a shoulder injury that forced him to miss five games.
The oft-injured Marshall played in just three games last year following a leg injury, a setback that came on the heels of the torn ACL he suffered at Tennessee in October 2013. Chubb has been among those raving about a light, springy Marshall most of the year. The latter could give the ‘Dawgs one of the deepest and most talented backfields in the SEC if he can stay on the field with a manageable workload.
There’s no such thing as too many talented backs in the nation’s premier conference. Georgia should hold Chubb between 20 and 25 offensive touches most games, and less against the weakest non-conference opponents. Rushing titles are great, and Chubb is capable of that.
But, as everyone saw with Gurley’s career (and with Marshall’s thus far), all that talent doesn’t mean as much if injuries keep you on the sideline. Getting Chubb through November healthy should be a major priority.