Georgia Football: Why Losing Zamir White matters

ATHENS, GA - SEPTEMBER 16: Nick Chubb (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
ATHENS, GA - SEPTEMBER 16: Nick Chubb (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) /

When Georgia Football lost Zamir White this past weekend, they lost one of their most exciting weapons for the 2018 season.

Some of you will read the headline of this article and scratch your heads a little. You’ll probably respond to it with a resounding,  “Well, duh”. Read on, please. We had been pretty lucky during this off-season when it came to the injury bug, hadn’t we? Besides an injury to Tyrique McGee that looks to keep him out for the beginning of the season but not the entire season, it had been a relatively quiet time. No injury news is, of course, good news.

And then Saturday hit.

I started hearing reports Saturday afternoon that freshman phenom running back Zamir “Zeus” White had hurt his knee. Not the one he had hurt in his senior season of high school, but his other knee. The severity of the injury was not immediately clear, but it didn’t sound good.

It didn’t take long for bad news to get worse.  White tore his ACL in his other knee. Within a couple of weeks of being cleared by doctors to play, it happened again. What an awful break for a kid who had just battled and shown his seemingly superhuman recovery abilities. And as most of us know by now, White is done. He’s officially out for the season.

I immediately felt awful for the kid. He never even got a chance to show why he was rated the number one back in the nation coming out of high school.  He never got to play a single snap of college football.  He will recover eventually. We probably haven’t seen the last of him. But regardless of his future, his present includes missing the entire first year of his college career.

I excepted my fellow fans and writers to begin analyzing how this affected our running game.  Even though I think the most important thing initially was to show sympathy for the kid and his situation, I understand that this is football in the South. Especially with football season so close, it was no surprise that so many people began to talk about how this would affect us from a football standpoint.

What did surprise me, however, was a common response I saw to the situation.  “It’s no big deal. We are deep at running back.” I agree we have really good depth at the running back position.  I don’t agree with “It’s not a big deal”, though. This injury is absolutely a big deal.

Why it matters:

Let’s look at this thing as it now stands. We have 2 really good backs. D’Andre Swift and James Cook are both guys who would be stars at any school in America.  While Cook may not begin the season as our #2 back and isn’t SEC tested yet, I believe he is too talented to not take over that spot very soon. We have 2 other backs who are pretty good in Brian Herrien and Elijah Holyfield.  Both have shown glimpses of greatness but neither of them seems to be an elite back. Even with guys in front of them, we would know by now if either was poised to be the next big thing at UGA.

So Friday, we had one bonafide stud of a starter in Swift, 2 freshmen in White and Cook who had the potential to be the next great UGA running back duo, and experienced backups in Holyfield and Herrien.  Now with White out of the mix, all 3 guys behind Swift will have to really step their game up. We are a little less deep at the position that we were so deep at just a week ago. Another injury at the position and we could be in trouble. We will pass more this season but our bread and butter will still be the running game. So we need to stay as healthy as possible there. Remember how tough it was for defenses to get pounded by a fresh Nick Chubb and then immediately after he went out of the game to have to deal with a well-rested Sony Michel? We need that luxury again this season.

I don’t mean to be gloom and doom guy. I think we will be ok in the running game.  So I get what people are trying to say.  But make no mistake about it, losing a weapon like Zamir White is absolutely a big deal. You are talking about a once in a decade talent at the position. If we are in a championship situation (and we will be) how could defenses have contained a 3 headed monster of Swift, Cook, and White? I don’t think many could have.

I see big things from 2 of our backs this season. One thing that has changed in my mind since the injury news Saturday is my feelings on what kind of season D’Andre Swift is about to have. His workload just went up. I thought the Heisman chatter was a little premature even knowing how talented Swift was. The main reason is that I knew that both freshmen were going to see a lot of playing time. Well, that just changed in an instant. Swift will now carry the ball many more times. And I believe he will produce.

Behind the monster Georgia offensive line, Swift is going to eat. So no, our season isn’t over due to an injury to a kid who had never played a college down. But we lost an offensive weapon that would have made an immediate impact.  We lost depth. Hopefully, White makes a full recovery and has an amazing playing career at UGA. We will continue to practice hard and game plan. We will run the ball. And we will still have a great season.  But let’s be real Dawg fans. It may make you feel better initially to say “It’s not a big deal” when looking at the White injury from a football point of view.

dark. Next. White's injury continues a trend for UGA at running back.

But White was a different animal.  We lost a great young player that could have helped us win a tight game against South Carolina, Auburn, LSU, and potentially Alabama in an SEC championship or playoff game.  A kid received a bad injury that could jeopardize his future. That’s a pretty big deal to me.