Rather quietly, Nick Chubb has emerged as the SEC’s leading rusher through the first half of the 2017 season.
With the help of an offensive line that has shown considerable improvement, Chubb has run for 618 yards and eight touchdowns through six games. He is averaging 6.8 yards per carry, which is a big bump from the 5.0 he averaged last season.
But Chubb’s name hasn’t popped up in regards to any national awards. Georgia head coach Kirby Smart was asked if Chubb should, in fact, be in consideration for honors such as the Heisman Trophy based on the first half of his season.
Smart was diplomatic with his answer.
“That is not for me to judge,” Smart said. “I am not here to lobby for anybody. I certainly love Nick, and I love our entire offensive backfield. They work so hard. I tell them all the time that the thing that sticks out to me is that with the teams that win, you get more individual accolades.”
While Chubb is the SEC rushing leader at the moment, he is 16th nationally.
He has done this despite sitting out in a lot of fourth quarters due to five blowouts in six games.
“Sony (Michel) and I did some calculations, and we missed a quarter from five games,” Chubb said. “That’s (over) one game we’ve missed. It’s great to keep us fresh and keep getting the young guys some playing time. It’s working out well for us right now.”
Chubb has posted these numbers on 91 carries due to sharing a backfield with four others — Michel, D’Andre Swift, Brian Herrien and Elijah Holyfield.
Michel has gotten off to great start, too, ranking 11th in the SEC with 406 rushing yards. Michel led Georgia in rushing against Vanderbilt, rushing for 150 yards and a touchdown.
Georgia is once again a run-heavy team, ranking 11th in the nation at 265.2 yards per game.
Chubb is averaging 15.2 carries per game, which is a departure from the workload he had as a freshman. And that season was when the numbers began to pop.
After serving as a backup in the first five games, Chubb went on a tear in his final eight en route to 1,547 yards and 14 touchdowns. During that eight-game span, Chubb averaged 23.5 carries. That set up a great start to his sophomore season, where he average 18.2 carries and 149 yards before facing Tennessee, which is when he suffered a significant knee injury.
It is reasonable to assume that if Chubb was used more like a featured back that he would be putting up numbers folks were once accustomed to seeing.
But with Georgia off to a 6-0 start with a No. 4 national ranking, Chubb doesn’t seem to mind. With multiple backs heavily involved, Georgia has been a tough team to corral in the ground game.
“I think they those guys obviously take away from each other when it comes to national recognition because they do not get the carries,” Smart said. “But they do not care about that. The reason they came back was to win and that is the ultimate goal. Right now, they are helping us achieve that.”