Post-spring position analysis: Chubb isn’t Georgia’s only tailback

Sony Michel (1) is likely to start Georgia's opener, but Nick Chubb looms.

ATHENS – Should we even try to get through the first paragraph without talking about him? The premise of the headline, after all, is that Georgia has more running backs than just …

No use trying. So for those of you who have not seen or heard this reporter’s opinion on Nick Chubb’s return, here it is: Barring a setback, the feeling here is Chubb will play but not start against North Carolina, get between 7-10 carries in order to get his feet wet, and then go from there. That’s based on watching Chubb during spring practice, and tidbits we’ve heard publicly and privately the last couple months. It’s a guess. But an educated guess.

OK, so that’s out of the way.

All the attention on one guy is understandable, but a bit unfair to everyone else. Another guy actually ran for more than 1,100 yards last year despite only six starts, and he’s back. Another guy has 715 career rushing yards, including some big carries in big games. There’s also someone who looked good in spring practice, someone who moved from receiver and offers an intriguing skill-set, and then a four-star recruit with a famous last name.

Oh, and there’s also the fullbacks. Kirby Smart may say “I’m not a fullback guy,” but he doesn’t meant it like that. So that’s a position worth addressing too.

So as we wind down our post-spring position series– and yes, it’s very post-spring now – let’s get to those running backs. All of them:

TAILBACK

  • Starter: Sony Michel, Jr.; and Nick Chubb, Jr.
  • Backups: Brendan Douglas, Sr.
  • Others: Tae Crowder, R-Fr.; Shaquery Wilson, Soph.
  • On the way: Elijah Holyfield, Fr.; Brian Herrien, Fr
  • The skinny: Michel may not be the superstar that Chubb is, but he’s still pretty good. The reason that Georgia’s run game sputtered without Chubb – not that it was great before his injury – was that you no longer had the double-punch of two dynamic tailbacks. It was just Michel, essentially, with Douglas providing serviceable relief. So you know who Georgia’s top two guys are, once Chubb is cleared to play. What about after them? Douglas, by virtue of experience, gets the edge. Crowder, who redshirted last year, had a good spring, and may benefit from the fresh set of coaching eyes on him. Wilson, who shifted from receiver late in the spring, has a chance for carries too if he learns the playbook quickly enough. Then there’s Holyfield, who could be the future at the position, and Herrien, a late addition as a late qualifier. It’ll take some injuries for Holyfield or Herrien to get a lot of carries as freshmen. Unfortunately, as Georgia fans know, injuries do happen at this position.

FULLBACK

  • Starter: Glenn Welch, Jr.; or Christian Payne, Jr.
  • Backups: Welch and Payne.
  • Others: Nick Moore, Soph.; Turner Fortin, R-Fr.; Kyle LeStrange, Sr.
  • On the way: None.
  • The skinny: By “none” on the way, we should say “none on the way that we know of, until someone is plucked out of walk-on tryouts or moved from another position.” In the meantime, the fullback starter is in question, with Welch – the former center who didn’t play last year – getting first-team snaps this spring ahead of Payne, who was the starter last year when healthy. They offer a similar skillset, in that they’re blockers first but can also carry and catch the ball when necessary. Or at least we saw Payne do that last year, catching four passes for 57 yards, including the 23-yarder at Georgia Tech, off a play-action. Hey, why didn’t Georgia use that play more last year? Why do we keep typing that kind of sentence in relation to Georgia’s offense? OK, we know why.

Next up: Quarterbacks.

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