ATHENS–Nick Chubb reclined on the trainer’s table on the Georgia sideline at Sanford Stadium on Saturday. At times, Todd Gurley stood nearby.
Both of the famed Bulldogs watched and waited for their successor, Sony Michel, to make the kind of big plays that are expected from Georgia tailbacks. They never materialized for Michel, who made his first collegiate start after Chubb suffered a season-ending knee injury the previous weekend at Tennessee.
Michel ran for 87 yards on 26 carries and also had four catches for 13 yards. He never could break free for the big gain the Bulldogs needed to jump start their offense: Michel’s longest rush was a 10-yard gain late in the first quarter and his longest reception was a nine-yard gain in the opening period.
“We knew coming into this game that Missouri has a great defense and (we were) not really expecting too many big plays,” Michel said.
When the Bulldogs started a drive with the game tied 6-6 in the fourth quarter it was Brendan Douglas, not Michel, at tailback. Michel later kept the drive going with a tough, five-yard gain on third-and-four at the Missouri 39-yard line.
But Michel couldn’t gain a first down on a third-down sweep at the Missouri eight-yard line. The drive ended with Marshall Morgan missing a 26-yard field-goal attempt.
“Their d-line, they do a lot of slanting,”Michel said. “Their linebackers are good tacklers. Their safeties are good tacklers. Everybody flies to the ball. That’s one of the better defenses I’ve faced. We are always going to face good defenses in the SEC.”
Douglas finished with nine carries for 24 yards. The third tailback, Keith Marshall, had five rushes for 24 yards.
“They have a good defense,” Douglas said. “They are tough. They do a lot of stuff up front, a lot of movement on the defensive line. It was tough. You’ve got to give them credit.”
Michel retreated to the locker room briefly during the first half before returning. He said he had tightness in his hips and groin and went inside to get warmed up.
Gurley now plays for Rams, who have an open date this week. Gurley suffered a season-ending knee injury while playing for the Bulldogs in 2014 and opted to declare for the NFL draft, opening the way for Chubb to star as the full-time tailback.