Everyone knows what Nick Chubb can do as a downhill runner.
Chubb has made quite the name for himself the past three years as Georgia’s star out of the backfield. He has churned out a lot of yards — 3,424 in his career, to be exact — and has been a big reason in many of Georgia’s wins.
But if there is one area Chubb believes he can improve at it would be as a pass-catcher. If the Cedartown product is able to add that trait to his repertoire, his play-making ability could be even more dangerous during the 2017 season.
This spring, Chubb has spent a lot more time catching passes out of the backfield. He is hoping this practice translates in game situations this fall.
“It’s going well,” Chubb said. “I had to do a lot of it. Every day in the spring I’ve been catching a lot of balls.”
During the lone time this spring that reporters were able to witness 11-on-11 drills, Chubb was seen split out as a slot receiver in a specific drill. While he has received work in this area, it’s more likely Sony Michel and Brian Herrien fill roles as running backs lining up at slot receiver.
It’s clear, however, that Georgia wants Chubb more involved in its passing game, especially considering that the offense is expected to move at an even higher tempo this coming season.
“His big road block has been for him to really work on catching the ball out of the backfield even better and even becoming a weapon in that way,” Smart said. “He’s done a good job of that the last two scrimmages.”
As a freshman in 2014, Chubb caught a season-best 18 catches for 213 yards and two touchdowns. But his receiving numbers went down considerably the past two seasons. In 2015, a year that was shortened due to a major knee injury, Chubb caught four passes for 32 yards and a touchdown.
A season ago, in offensive coordinator Jim Chaney’s first season calling plays, Chubb caught only five passes for 86 yards and a touchdown. A large chunk of the yardage came on a 49-yard catch-and-run against Louisiana-Lafayette.
Outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter said Chubb, along with the other running backs, have been practicing more versatile roles.
“Our offense is doing a great job, showing different looks, using the running backs in different ways — just being different and doing different things,” Carter said. “Chubb’s doing a lot of different things, Sony’s doing different things. Everybody is trying something new. It’s the spring time, and that’s the time to do it.”
Chubb’s specialty will still be to run the ball between the tackles. Michel and Herrien also figure to be the backs who split out more often than not.
But Chubb’s ability to be a bigger factor in the passing game could allow for Georgia’s offense to stay uptempo without having to substitute its personnel.
“I can do it too but those guys are probably better backs to do it,” Chubb said. “I can go out there. I can run. I can catch the ball.”