ATHENS — Hearing that quarterback Greyson Lambert bought ice cream for the starting offensive line because he didn’t get sacked, Georgia’s Sony Michel got to thinking maybe there should be some sweets on the line for the Bulldogs’ tailbacks. Only in this case, whatever back had the biggest game would receive treats from his fellow ball-carriers.
“We should get some kind of Snickers or something,” Michel said after Georgia’s practice Monday. “We need to come up with something like that. That’d be nice.”
Based on this past Saturday’s performances, there could be a pretty good debate about which back should reap the sweet rewards. On first glance, most would probably give the nod to Nick Chubb, who had 120 yards on 16 carries and scored two touchdowns. His rushing output eclipsed that of Michel (6-41).
But when you factor in Michel’s 79 yards and touchdown on two receptions, it’s a little less clear-cut. He, too, gained 120 total yards on the day, and he did it on just eight touches. And Keith Marshall had a red-letter day as well, with 73 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries.
And these facts are all readily apparent among the three tailbacks.
“We’re just a competitive group,” Michel said. “For the outsiders looking in, to see everybody getting their reps, that’s just a form of competitiveness. Everybody’s going out there to compete among each other.”
That’s a good thing for the Bulldogs, who appear poised to live and die based on the thick legs of their tailbacks and the brawn of their veteran offensive line. It was only little ol’ Louisiana-Monroe this past Saturday, but Georgia ran the football on 38 of 52 plays this past Saturday, and most were of the between-the-tackles variety.
“If we can stick with the run game and beat a team with our run game, that’s perfectly fine with me,” senior tackle John Theus said. “That physical style of play is what we like, what we want. If we don’t have to put ourselves in position to throw the ball, I’m all for it.”
That varied talents of Georgia’s backs make them especially suited to share a heavy load. Chubb’s generally considered a straight-ahead workhorse. Michel operates as the multi-positional, receiving specialist. A year removed from his knee issues, Marshall appears to have regained his outside speed. Even Brendan Douglas has a role as a sort of short-yardage specialist.
“They can all do it all,” Theus said. “Chubb had a great game, Keith is super fast, Sony can line up anywhere. So to have all three of those guys is great. In my opinion they’re the best stable of running backs in the country.”
Said Marshall: “You’ve got to get production. We all felt like we were able to do that”
That will be much tougher to come by this week. The Bulldogs will venture to Nashville to open SEC play against Vanderbilt. While the Commodores were unsuccessful in their debut against Western Kentucky last Thursday, it wasn’t because of their run defense. They gave up just 37 yards on 23 attempts, an average of 1.6 yards a carry.
But Georgia’s backs will be motivated. They did not perform well on the last trip to Vanderbilt Stadium. And their very well could be a Snickers bar or three awaiting the best producer.