Good day, UGA. Welcome to your one-stop shop for all the relevant UGA football news and takes every Monday through Friday. Today, we ask if the biggest problem Nick Chubb has this season is his coaches.
No doubt you’ve noticed there’s been something amiss with Nick Chubb this season. The one-time Heisman hopeful has only 606 yards this season, with more than 200 of them coming in the first game. He had 747 in just five games last year. His freshman season he had a whopping 1,547.
There are a good many theories about why he’s experienced this drop-off in production. Perhaps he hasn’t fully recovered from the devastating knee injury he suffered last season. There’s also the thought that Georgia’s offensive line has also taken a big step back this year, and the running lanes for Chubb and Sony Michel just aren’t there like they used to be. There’s no doubt both of these factors have played a part in Chubb’s downturn, but I think the biggest reason his numbers have gone down this season is that he’s not getting enough carries.
On Saturday, Chubb had the worst outing of his career with just 9 carries for 20 yards, plus 1 reception. That’s simply far too few carries for a back of Chubb’s caliber. In fact, this entire season, Chubb hasn’t seen the ball enough. He’s only received more than 20 touches twice this season, in the first two games. In one of those, he rushed for 222 yards. In the other, he only ran for 80, but it was the first time in his career he carried the ball more than 20 times and failed to reach the century mark.
Perhaps Chubb is a victim of his early success. On so many occasions through his first two seasons in Athens he touched the ball less than 20 times and rushed for 150 or more yards. We’ve come to expect that he can deliver a lot with a little. Chubb has always been a big-play back. He’s a guy who can bang through a few players, break some tackles and find space. His yardage comes in chunks. And when you have a back like that, you have to stick with him when those big gains just aren’t coming. It’s like a 3-point shooter in basketball. When the shots aren’t falling, you have to shoot through it. I mean, just look at what this dude is capable of:
So, Chubb’s lack of production this season is far more on Kirby Smart and Jim Chaney than it is the player himself, especially if he is fully fit, like the Smart contends. Chubb touched the ball just eight times in the first half and only three in the second. That’s understandable in a game where you’re down by 21 and you just have to pass, pass, pass. But Georgia was within a touchdown all afternoon. The Bulldogs had time to try to establish the run. It seems like Smart and Chaney just decided it was never going to happen against Florida’s run defense and wasn’t worth the effort.
The problem with that thinking is that I, and every other college football fan, have seen what Chubb can do, even against really good defenses. And when nothing else is working — because the passing game sure as hell wasn’t working against Florida — why not go back to the one thing, the one player who you know is capable of making something happen? The pieces around him aren’t as good this year, but we know Chubb is a good football player. One of the best in the country even. It’s just perplexing that, after installing an offense specifically designed to exploit Georgia’s strength at tailback, the run is abandoned so early.
At least, it appears, Smart realized the error of his ways in not getting Chubb the ball enough.
“Just haven’t been productive,” Smart said, according to Seth Emerson of Dawg Nation. “That’s on us as coaches. We know that. We’ve got to help (Chubb), Sony (Michel), and the guys that need to touch the ball in order to get them more touches.”
Now for the good news
Smart will have a chance to rectify Chubb’s lack of carries this weekend against Kentucky, and the junior could respond in a big way. Georgia’s rushing struggles the last two weeks have come against two really good run defenses. Florida’s run defense S&P+ is 10th in the country, while Vanderbilt comes in much lower at a still fairly respectable 61st. Kentucky is all the way back at 93rd, and the Wildcats have the 114th-ranked Success Rate in the country, meaning they have a hard time keeping teams off the field.
If Chubb keeps being presented with only 10 to 15 touches in an outing, the result is gonna be anyone’s guess. Maybe he breaks a big one, or maybe he runs into a lineman’s ass a dozen or more times. But if Smart mandates that Chubb touch the 20 to 25 times or more against Kentucky, the Bulldogs will definitely have their best rushing performance in weeks, Chubb will likely rush for more than 100 yards for the first time since South Carolina, the pass game should improve as the defense has to stack more men to account for the run and Georgia probably comes out with a win. Even in his slump, Chubb’s the best player on the team. Smart and Chaney just have to trust him enough to let him shoot out of it.
- Georgia’s bowl hopes: Decreasing options, and not a sure thing (Seth Emerson, Dawg Nation)
- Towers’ Take: Should Kirby Smart be more involved with offense? (Chip Towers, Dawg Nation)
- Georgia practice update: One position switch abandoned? (Seth Emerson, Dawg Nation)
- Georgia shifting focus to playing role of the spoiler (Jason Butt, Macon Telegraph)
- Frequent losses unfamiliar territory for some Georgia football freshmen (Emily Giambalvo, Red & Black)
- The hope that abides: Why I remain confident that Kirby Smart will succeed in Athens (MaconDawg, Dawg Sports)
Blue Moon of Kentucky
In honor of the Kentucky game, how about some bluegrass to start your day?
If football season has you down, have no fear. Georgia basketball returns in two days to take your mind off the gridiron and onto the hardwood. The Bulldogs face Fort Valley State in an exhibition at Stegeman Coliseum on Thursday.
This good dog knows what he wants, and he knows how to get it.