ATHENS — The name of Georgia’s second opponent also starts with an ‘n.’ That’s about all it has in common with the first opponent. And the name thing is even a bit in question.
Nicholls State, located in Thibodaux, La., is asking to be called just “Nicholls.” That hasn’t been widely accepted yet, but it also hasn’t been widely discussed.
The most notable thing about the Colonels has been that they have two players who starred on the Netflix series “Last Chance U.”, which chronicled a junior college program. The two players are expected to play, head coach Tim Rebowe said Tuesday during a Southland Conference coaches teleconference.
So is it Last Chance U. to No Chance Against Georgia?
Nicholls State, or Nicholls, or the Colonels, had a bye last week. They went 3-9 last year, falling in their only Power 5-conference game, 48-0 at Colorado.
The upshot: Eighteen starters return, counting the punter and long snapper. Rebowe – whose Google searches usually turn up a certain former-quarterback-turned-aspiring-baseball-player – was in his first year as the school’s coach in 2015.
Georgia paid Nicholls State a $525,000 guarantee for the trip.
“I’ve coached at this level, I’ve coached at the Division I level, it’s what you do, you have to play some of the big boys, it’s a necessary evil that I think all of the coaches in the conference will agree we have to do it,” Rebowe said. “We like to do it, it’s great exposure for our program. And for some of our teammates to go out and see if they can compete at a higher level.”
Two of those players: Ronald Ollie and Marcel Andry, both defensive linemen, who were prominently featured on the Netflix documentary.
“I think Ronald handled it really well, so being, some say, the star of the show. But he’s so grounded he knows that he’s got to get to the work on the football field, and all that stuff is the past, behind him,” Rebowe said. “It was exciting, it was good exposure, it was good for them, but I think they handled it extremely well.”
Nicholls State is a run-first offense, running it nearly four times as many times as it passed last year. Quarterback Tuskani Figaro is both the team’s leading returning passer and rusher. He rushed for 456 yards and five touchdowns last year.
But the Colonels had just as much time stopping the run last year, allowing opponents 5.3 yards per carry, including 31 touchdowns.
So it seems likely the only way Nick Chubb doesn’t equal his 222 yards from last week is if he’s pulled from the game early. Which also seems likely.
“There’s no doubt, in this area we think the SEC is the toughest conference in the country. So we’ve played some of these teams before, our guys are excited to do it,” Rebowe said. “But we don’t like to think of the negativity in terms of the score’s going to get away.”