Can Nick Chubb Carry the Georgia Bulldogs if Necessary?


Nick Chubb had a fantastic freshman year, and in many ways helped to save the season for the Bulldogs. But if he has to, can he carry the load alone this year?

Georgia Bulldogs
Georgia Bulldogs /

Georgia Bulldogs

There’s nothing not to like about Nick Chubb. He’s talented, hard-working, humble, intelligent and basically the kind of football player every coach wishes he had. When he stepped in for Todd Gurley in 2014, he exceeded most expectations and became a freshman sensation.

This year there is no Gurley. Chubb comes into camp knowing that he’s the one coaches and fans are looking at to get the job done, and prior to last week, it seemed like he would have plenty of help with Keith Marshall and Sony Michel there alongside.

But after Michel went down for the spring with a shoulder injury, and then Marshall once more had to sit, this time with a hamstring problem, you have to wonder if either of those backs is going to be durable and available this season.

That beckons the question of whether or not Nick Chubb can be the bell cow of a run-first offense without losing steam late in games, and particularly late in the season.

If you watched Chubb in the games against Florida and Georgia Tech — two late regular season games in which Chubb was carrying the load — he was a beast during the first half, but then seemed to fade rather than get stronger (as some elite backs do) late in the game.

With Todd Gurley still suspended for the Florida game, Chubb put on a show in the first half when he gained the bulk of his 157 yards. But in the second half he was hardly a factor, having one 43-yard run (after which he fumbled the ball), and then rushing for -4, 5,  and 0 yards.

Against Georgia Tech, Chubb ran for 129 yards, averaging 5.2 yards per carry. But during the 3rd quarter he had runs of 3, 1, and 2 yards. During the 4th quarter his runs were 1 and 0 yards, with Michel coming in late in the fourth to provide a couple of big runs.

It’s hard to know if Chubb’s lack of use and production in the second half of those games was a product of coaching and play-calling, or if he simply told his coaches that he was out of gas. Its also interesting that both games ended up as Georgia losses.

Against Florida, you could argue that the deficit had become so great that Georgia was forced into passing the ball, but it had been proven time and again during the season that the Bulldogs could strike just as quickly running the ball as they could passing it.

Nov 1, 2014; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Georgia Bulldogs running back Brendan Douglas (22) runs with the ball against the Florida Gators during the first quarter at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After having a month off, Chubb seemed rejuvenated and ran wild for 266 yards and 8.1 yards per carry against Louisville in the Belk Bowl.

Truthfully, as good as he is and for all the things he can do, it may be that Chubb isn’t a 300 carry-per-year kind of back. And even if Marshall and Michel have to spend extended periods of time on the shelf, the Bulldogs still have Brendan Douglas and A.J. Turman to spell Chubb, although neither of those backs are quite as menacing to opposing defenses.

If new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer is going to make better use of the tight ends (as some suspect he might) and employ more swing routes and multiple wide receiver formations, then Chubb won’t have to carry that many times.

However, if Georgia’s offense stays close to what was run in 2014, then Nick Chubb may have prove he can pound the rock late in games and late in the season.