ATHENS – Nick Chubb has many strengths, one being that he gets better as the game goes on. While the defense is wearing down, he’s hitting his next gear.
The same, it’s becoming apparent, goes for the season as a whole.
“Definitely,” Chubb said on Saturday. “I think I’m getting a lot better.”
There have been plenty of struggles this season for Georgia’s running game, reflected in Chubb’s stats. But on Saturday he scored two touchdowns and uncorked multiple runs – and a catch – when he hit the second level stronger. Chubb also surpassed 100 yards for the second straight game this year, the first back-to-back of the season.
As Chubb goes, Georgia goes: The Bulldogs are 4-0 when he surpasses 100 yards, and 6-0 when he runs for at least 80 yards.
“I never saw him not confident in the knee,” head coach Kirby Smart said, alluding to Chubb’s knee surgery last year. “Maybe y’all did. I don’t know. Everybody talks about the production. I don’t think that production’s based on Nick, I think it’s based on a whole lot of other things. New quarterback. Offensive line. Whatever reason, you can point fingers right here to me.
“But Nick Chubb has been everything I anticipate him being: A leader, toughness, practice, never says a word, never complains about anything. He’s your ideal teammate.”
Next week, Chubb could jump two Georgia greats into second-place on Georgia’s all-time rushing list: He will enter the Georgia Tech game 38 yards behind third-place Garrison Hearst, and 91 yards behind second-place Todd Gurley.
Also, Chubb is now exactly 100 yards from hitting 1,000 yards for the season.
“It means a lot. Ups and downs of a season, but you just take it week by week, and continue to finish strong,” Chubb said. “I think we’re doing a good job of that here.”
Chubb had runs of 32 and 35 yards Saturday. On one, he bounced off defenders in the backfield and then shifted left, surging past the secondary until he was caught from behind.
But his longest play came on a pass: The 49-yard touchdown catch-and-run in the fourth quarter. Chubb got wide open up the middle on third down, Jacob Eason dumped it off to him, and Chubb went straight down the field for the score.
“I was looking at his eyes,” Chubb said of Eason. “He wasn’t looking at me for awhile, but he ended up checking it down.”
It was the fourth receiving touchdown of Chubb’s career.
“He certainly wasn’t the first option, or the second option. Probably not the third option,” Smart said. “But he got the ball, and it was exciting to see him run away from somebody. Because everyone keeps asking, is Nick okay, is Nick okay? Nick runs that ball with great toughness, and really does a nice job for us. And works extremely hard. Nick and Sony both do.”
Chubb may be playing his final home game next week. If these last two games are his swan song, he’s not wheezing to the finish by any means.
“It depends on my decision,” Chubb said. “If that is, it would be my last game at Sanford Stadium, and that’d be sad. But who knows, anything could happen.”