ATHENS — Kirby Smart had his first experience with the SEC coaches teleconference call on Monday and — imagine this — he entertained several questions about Nick Chubb.
Chubb, 10 months removed from reconstructive knee surgery, rushed for 222 yards on 32 carries and scored two touchdowns in Georgia’s 33-24 win over North Carolina at the Georgia Dome. Not surprisingly, Chubb subsequently was named SEC player of the week and Capitol One Impact Performer of the Week.
Smart, who saw Derrick Henry perform up close and personal the for the last three years at Alabama, was asked to compare the two backs.
“Well, they’re both powerful; that’s the number one similarity,” Smart said. “They’re a very different style in my opinion. Derrick was a long slasher that could run with power downhill. But Derrick got a lot of his long runs bouncing things out. Nick is a very patient runner that churns the hard extra yards. He can run outside but he runs through a lot of arm tackles, kind of like Derrick did.
“They’ve got a lot of similarities but they’re also built completely different. They’re two different-type kids. But they’re both common in that they work extremely hard and are both very humble and loyal to their teammate.”
Smart was also asked about Chubb’s unique rehabilitation process, which included weekly sessions of Taekwondo and track and how much that might have contributed to Chubb’s remarkably quick recovery.
Smart said he’d never seen Taekwondo incorporated in rehabilitation before.
“I’ve seen some people use track before and working on form running with track coaches, which Nick did with our track coaches, but not the Taekwondo element,” Smart said. “Some of it was Taekwondo-slash-MMA-slash-wrestling on mats. He was rolling and reacting, getting his body used to almost like being tackled, but in a more controlled environment. I went and watched a couple of times and was really impressed with what he was doing.”
Chubb showed no adverse effects after carrying the ball more than 30 times in a game for the fourth time in his career. He has returned to practice without limitations and is continuing to get routine pre- and post-workout treatments.
Smart was asked if over-use of Chubb was a concern.
“I don’t think from a conditioning standpoint we can include him every single play,” Smart said. “He got tired the other night and had to come out several times. So, yeah, you’ve got to resist (the urge to stick with Nick). It’s not realistic, whether he’s coming off an injury or not, to have a back play every play in every game. You just can’t do it.
“We’ve got other players capable. We’ve got to find ways to get the ball to other people because we may not be able to run the ball with the same efficiency we did the other night. We have to be able to throw it and we’ve got to use other weapons in our offense to make sure that Nick is not focused upon.”