ATHENS – Attack. Go north. Nick Chubb still remembers the lesson his first running backs coach at Georgia, Bryan McClendon, taught him. Attack. Go north.
And in Chubb’s mind, he didn’t obey that lesson, that one fateful time. So there’s one way to fix it.
“Attack. Don’t go to the sideline. Get upfield,” Chubb said. “I let myself get on the sideline at Tennessee. So now I just get upfield every time. Instead of going out of bounds.”
Well, it was pointed out, don’t you have to go to the sidelines sometimes?
“Yeah, I mean … you don’t really have to,” Chubb said.
Media members laughed along with him.
Georgia’s star tailback can laugh a bit more easily now about the injury – though he doesn’t love hearing that word. It’s been nearly two full years since he suffered a significant knee injury, which looked career-threatening. He was back in eight months.
But he wasn’t quite himself, Chubb acknowledges. There were amazing games, like the 222-rushing yard return game to open the season, and the 142-yard game in the bowl. But in between there were moments Chubb just didn’t seem back to his pre-injury self. There were some runs were he didn’t quite make the cut left or right, or show the same burst.
This year, whether due to renewed confidence or just time, Chubb vows that he’s back to normal. Football people use the word “quickness” to describe the ability not just to sprint, but to be elusive. Chubb feel he has that again.
“My straight-line speed was always there. But maybe a little quickness is back,” Chubb said.
Teammates say they’ve noticed too.
“He’s got ‘umph”, he has just gotten a lot faster and a lot more explosive,” sophomore defensive lineman Julian Rochester said.
The college career of UGA tailback Nick Chubb shows a lot of the highs and lows that comes with college athletics. (Joshua L. Jones/Special)
Earlier in the day, Chubb was named to the AP’s preseason All-American team … but only the second team. He wasn’t even the first Chubb: His cousin Bradley Chubb of N.C. State, a defensive lineman, made the first team.
“That’s great for him,” Nick Chubb said. “We talk a lot, actually. I think I talked to him last month.”
Nick Chubb makes for a pretty good second-best college player at family reunions: He enters this season second on Georgia’s all-time rushing list, a cool 1,830 behind Herschel Walker. Last year Chubb passed Todd Gurley, who suffered a season-ending knee injury on his final run at Georgia.
Chubb doesn’t tend to use needless words during interviews. If there isn’t anything there, or he doesn’t want to say much, then he doesn’t say much. Like when asked if he had any personal goals for this season, he answered “no” and left it at that.
But during an interview session after Tuesday’s practice, he seemed okay talking more about the injury. Or at least the way he feels nearly two years later.
Does confidence have anything to do with it? Does he find himself doing some things he didn’t try to do last year – or did he try to do everything last year?
“It’s hard to explain. I can’t explain it. Injuries are weird,” Chubb said. “I don’t know if I didn’t try or I just knew I couldn’t do it. I don’t know. But I do a lot of things now. So I don’t know how to explain it.”
Chubb chuckled as he finished saying that.
You don’t like talking about it, a reporter observed.
“Yeah. I just don’t. That was like two years ago,” he said.
And it’s confusing to talk about injuries all the time, the reporter stated.
“I just don’t want to say that word,” Chubb said, with a grin. “Don’t think about it. Just worry about playing the game.”