ATHENS – It’s not the legs. It’s the coaches.
That’s essentially what Kirby Smart said Monday when asked whether he saw anything in Nick Chubb’s health to explain what’s become a very down season for the star tailback.
Chubb ranks just 11th in the SEC in rushing yards, and is averaging just 4.9 yards per carry, down from 8.1 last year and 7.1 as a freshman.
“I know he’s disappointed with where the statistics are for him. It’d be a lie to say he’s not. He is,” Smart said, adding later: “Just haven’t been productive. 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.”
Chubb only had nine carries in Saturday’s loss to Florida, not touching the ball from the 12:25 mark of the second quarter (on a drive Georgia took a 10-7 lead) until the first play of the fourth quarter (at which point Florida led 21-10).
Chubb’s numbers have led to questions about his health, whether it’s lingering effects of the knee surgery, or the sprained ankle incurred in early October. But Chubb has maintained he feels fine, and Smart echoed that.
“Health-wise, I can’t say anything’s wrong with Nick, he does everything,” Smart said. “He’s had a really good off-week of practice, sprinting and cutting, running all the way to the end zone. He’s given really good effort and energy at practice, practices with toughness, a good leader for us. … But I can’t say anything’s health wrong with him. He’s done everything we’ve asked, and looks good doing it to me.”
Michel, a 1,000-yard rusher last season after Chubb’s knee injury, only touched the ball four times on Saturday. Isaiah McKenzie, the team’s leading receiver and fourth-leading rusher, didn’t have a single offensive touch.
“If they’re frustrated they’re definitely not showing it,” junior guard Isaiah Wynn said. “Like I said, they’re doing a good job of remaining positive. So is the whole team.”