ATHENS -- Mark Richt smiled and chuckled when receiving a question comparing Todd Gurley and Nick Chubb.
ESPN analyst Danny Kanell, a former quarterback Richt coached during his days as Florida State’s offensive coordinator, asked the Georgia head coach on the television program College Football Live if Chubb has more natural talent than Gurley.
“Wow, I don’t know,” Richt said during a taped segment on Monday. “They’re two freaky backs, I could just say that. Todd was the biggest freakazoid back I’ve seen in person, quite frankly. Then Chubb comes along and looks very similar. I’m not shocked that Todd, even with the ACL, was the first back taken in the (NFL) draft because he’s different. And Nick, so far, has shown he is as well.”
As a junior in 2014, Gurley ran for 911 yards and nine touchdowns in only six games played. Gurley was suspended for four games after it was revealed he received impermissible benefits in exchange for autographed memorabilia. When Gurley returned from his suspension, he tore his anterior cruciate ligament late against Auburn, which ended his season. Chubb kept the Georgia offense running and finished his freshman season with 1,547 yards and 14 touchdowns. With Chubb excelling on the field a year ago, Richt was also asked if the sophomore runner’s Heisman chances could play a part in deciding how many carries he gets per game.
“Well, first of all, we’re not worried about the Heisman,” Richt said. “I think the Heisman Trophy is a team award, quite frankly. I’ve been blessed to coach a couple of Heisman Trophy winners and you’re not going to win (one) unless your team wins. So the goal is to win and do what it takes to win."
Richt was in Bristol, Conn. doing a tour of various ESPN programs with four other SEC coaches -- Tennessee's Butch Jones, Alabama's Nick Saban, Missouri's Gary Pinkel and LSU's Les miles. Richt appeared with Jones on College Football Live.
Other Richt quotes from the appearance:
On Chubb and sharing the load: “Nick has proven he has stamina. And it happened last season when we had injuries and a suspension (to Gurley) where he had to carry the load and was able to do it. But we have Sony Michel, Keith Marshall, Brendan Douglas, A.J. Turman, who’s back from injury. So we’ve got other guys who can help him. And it’s just like when Nick came in, he came in with Sony knowing, ‘Hey, I want to share the load. I don’t want this thing 35 times a game.’ Because it’s just not healthy for those guys.”
On whether Brian Schottenheimer will adapt to Georgia’s offense or if he’ll put his stamp on it: “We did a little bit of both. He’s got to call it so I want him to be comfortable. But we didn’t want to reinvent the wheel either. We kind of like our identity and what we do. So I think it will be tough for the normal fan to see a huge difference in what we’re doing. He’s a really good teacher and I look forward to seeing how we do.”
On changing coordinators (defensive coordinator in 2014, offensive coordinator in 2015): “It creates energy, first of all, when you have change. The players have got a new coach to learn -- what does he expect, and all that kind of thing. Plus, a lot of times you’ll go visit programs across the country to learn new things. Well, if you get a coordinator that was at an Alabama, that was at a Florida State, or that has been coaching in the NFL for his entire career, then you’ve got them there in-house. It’s like an in-house consultant to be able to try new things and do new things that might make things better for us.”
On letting Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs of Alpharetta leave the state: “There are so many. We have more SEC players from the state of Georgia than any state in the United States of America, including Florida. If you can only sign 20 to 25 a year, and about 125 go major D-1 in the country, you can’t get them all.”
On if the SEC race is as wide open as it’s ever been: “Well, I think everybody has their predictions at the beginning of the year. Everyone thinks they know what’s going to happen and if you look through history, not everybody’s always right. So you just got to start playing and before you know it about mid-season you get a pretty good feeling who’s got what. And then there’s the injury factor that can all of a sudden derail a season, or at least make it much more difficult. In the end, we’ll see who’s the best obviously.”