Georgia hasn’t had a problem running the football in recent years.
The Bulldogs have been blessed at the position, with Isaiah Crowell, Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall among those contributing at the position the past five seasons.
Nick Chubb is the latest running back to contribute in a major way, but he’s coming off a major knee injury, which included three ligament tears (his ACL did stay intact) and cartilage damage.
Conventional wisdom would suggest this: If Chubb is good to go to start the season, Georgia will be in good shape. If not, things could be dicey, even with a talented group of running backs behind him.
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Chubb is that kind of game-breaking running back. After all, he’s a Heisman Trophy candidate.
Players expected in the rotation: Chubb, RB Sony Michel, RB Brendan Douglas, RB Tae Crowder, RB Shaquery Wilson, FB Christian Payne, FB Glenn Welch, RB Elijah Holyfield (freshman).
How they fared in the spring: Chubb did more work than expected during spring practice, although he was held out of contact as his knee continues to heal. But during the final week of spring practice, Chubb was without a knee brace and making cuts. He impressed his teammates with what he was able to do in the weight room, considering his injury occurred in early October.
It’s certainly a good sign for Chubb as long as there are no setbacks. His recovery has gone great thus far, and Georgia will be hopeful he can play against North Carolina in the season opener.
It’s just still too soon to be able to make that determination.
Michel received more reps than he probably otherwise would have gotten this spring, with a lot of that having to do with learning the new offensive system. Michel took first-team reps in practice and got quite the workload, since Chubb and Douglas (wrist) were unable to participate in any contact work.
With Chubb and Douglas out, Crowder got a ton of work as Georgia’s No. 2 back, which should help him in case he’s pressed into duty due to injury. Wilson moved from receiver to running back in the final week of the spring and scored a touchdown at the G-Day game. He’ll stick at running back this year.
At fullback, Payne and Welch were essentially 1A and 1B in the backfield. Payne and Welch both are experienced lead-blockers who have a great understanding of how to help tailbacks find the needed room to run. They can also be utilized as receiving targets out of the backfield.
What to watch in August: All eyes will be on Chubb and whether he’ll be able to start the season opener against North Carolina.
If Chubb is full-go and without restriction, there will be a huge collective sigh of relief coming out of Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall. Chubb’s presence will allow the coaching staff to put less pressure on whichever quarterback wins the starting job. Chubb’s status will be instrumental to the first month of the season.
The other player to watch at running back is Holyfield. He has a chance to be Georgia’s No. 3 running back for the season opener if he can beat out Douglas, Crowder and Wilson in August.
Breakout candidate: This distinction goes to Holyfield. Everyone knows what Chubb and Michel can do — Chubb ran for 1,547 yards as a freshman and Michel ran for 1,161 yards as a sophomore. Behind those two, Douglas has stepped in as a capable back while not much is known about Crowder or Wilson at the position.
But coming out of Woodward Academy, Holyfield, the son of boxing legend Evander Holyfield, tore up his competition and was recruited by a host of suitors. He chose Georgia and could contribute early, even with Chubb and Michel ahead of him.
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