Georgia football: 5 numbers I want to see Zamir White hit in 2020
I have a good feeling about Zamir White.
Sure, it might not seem a stretch to think that he’ll join the list of talented Georgia running backs before him. He was a heralded 5-star recruit and No. 1 RB in his class. So saying that I have a good feeling about him is probably akin to me saying that the sky is blue.
That said, he’s a little behind schedule. An ideal world might have seen him take on some duties behind D’Andre Swift in 2018 and in the return game, but a torn ACL in his left knee — his 2nd ACL injury in less than a year — put him on the shelf.
With the 2020 season fast approaching, all eyes are on White. He has shown that he can handle adversity. And as he takes his place as Georgia’s starting running back, he’ll have plenty of people rooting for him to chase away his injury issues and lead the Bulldogs to new heights.
Here are 5 numbers I’d like to see from the redshirt sophomore as Georgia opens play on Sept. 26 at Arkansas:
1. 1,250 yards
Georgia hasn’t had a 1,500-yard carrier since Nick Chubb, who went for 1,547 yards in 2014 on 219 attempts.
That said, 1,500 for White is a tough ask in a shortened season — although Georgia has a chance to play 13 games, just like Chubb did in 2014.
Other factors make it difficult, too. The offensive line lost 3 starters and its position coach during the offseason. Adding to that, it’s likely that instead of relying on the run to open up the pass, Todd Monken will push for a more aerial attack. He’d love the luxury of having a high-powered ball carrier to add another dimension to the offense.
With that in mind, while I have faith in Matt Luke’s offensive line, the Dawgs will be happy with a more realistic 1,250 yards from White in an abbreviated campaign.
Chubb averaged 119.0 yards per game. Maybe that’s a better way to measure White’s performances this season.
2. 175+ carries
D’Andre Swift came just 4 attempts shy of the 200-carry mark last year and would have gotten there if not for a shoulder that held him out of last year’s Sugar Bowl against Baylor.
Again, though, Monken might go with a more aerial attack, so that means White will likely be somewhat eased into things on the ground. If he’s able to make the most of those opportunities, he’ll win the staff’s trust — and while 200 carries might be a little out of reach, getting White to 175 in his first year as RB1, even with fewer regular-season games on the schedule, should be an attainable goal.
3. 7.1 yards per carry
So let’s do the math. Divide 1,250 yards by 175 and you’ll get a little over 7.1, a pretty good yards per attempt clip for any running back. Chubb averaged 7.06 in 2014.
How does that compare to other Georgia running backs? Swift was at 6.2 in 2019 and 6.4 the year prior, as was Elijah Holyfield. Sony Michel flirted with an 8-yard-per-pop mark in 2017, carrying it 156 times as Chubb’s backup.
A shade over 7 yards an attempt shouldn’t be an impossible task for White to achieve, but, as mentioned, it rests on a relatively new-look offensive line helping him get there.
4. 12 total touchdowns
After 13 total touchdowns in 2018, Swift found the end zone 8 times in 2019. Part of that, though, was having a terrific change-of-pace back in Brian Herrien, who added 7 scores.
So will White be able to hit the double-digit touchdown mark? Chubb ran for 14 TDs as a freshman in 2014. Todd Gurley was even better, running for 17 as a freshman in 2012.
I think 12 TDs total is reasonable. Even though it’s a shorter regular season, he’ll get his opportunities on the ground and through the air.
5. 1 punt return for a touchdown
Dominick Blaylock and Tyler Simmons were the primary punt returners in 2019, but Blaylock is out for the season after sustaining a tear of the ACL in his left knee during practice and Simmons has graduated. So that should equal White potentially seeing some opportunities at that spot in 2020.
Can he score on a return, though? While Mecole Hardman and Eric Stokes both did it in 2018, no Georgia player was able to do so in 2019, so having White get his name on the stat sheet for a special teams touchdown would be a fun accomplishment.