ATHENS ― There are only so many carries to go around in Georgia’s crowded and talented backfield, as even Sony Michel found out on Saturday.
Michel missed the game against Samford the previous week, held out with an ankle injury. But when the senior returned for the SEC opener against Mississippi State on Saturday, he carried the ball just seven times, fourth-most on the team, with freshman D’Andre Swift playing a more prominent role.
That might have had something to do with the lingering effects of the ankle injury. But Michel, asked whether it was that or a coaches’ decision, leaned toward the latter.
“It was probably a coaches’ decision. I don’t think I needed more carries to probably help this team,” Michel said. “The coaches probably felt I got enough for the game, and I had to go with that.”
Indeed, Swift was impressive again, gaining 69 yards on 10 carries, including a 20-yard run. Starter Nick Chubb led the way with 81 yards on 15 carries, including 2 touchdowns.
Michel, who has 2,572 career rushing yards, had a lesser role, gaining 32 yards. He said his ankle feels fine.
“It felt good. I was able to go out there and play a little bit of football,” Michel said. “Enough to run the ball a couple times, to help get good yardage, to put the team in good position. Enough to play my part and my role for this team.”
Sophomore Brian Herrien also had 9 carries for 21 yards. The only scholarship tailback not to get in the game was sophomore Elijah Holyfield, who also didn’t have a kickoff return ― two weeks after a penalty negated his long kickoff return at Notre Dame. He wasn’t listed on the participation chart.
“He just never got an opportunity to [play],” coach Kirby Smart said. “A lot of guys didn’t play. Shoot, we want to get him on special teams, get him involved. We just didn’t get an opportunity.”