Posted: 5:36 pm Saturday, October 7th, 2017
By Jay Black
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Roses are red, violets are blue. Oh how I’ve enjoyed watching Nick and Sony run to the moon.
That’s it. That’s all the poetry I’ve got. But I do have a serious point. Georgia claims its Running Back U and the pipeline seems stocked with strong understudies, but I’m really going to miss these running backs when they are gone.
It’s been a lot of fun to bear witness to the Chubb and Michel Show and today might have been the best episode yet.
Georgia stats in this 45-14 beating of Vanderbilt are hard to do in video game land, much less real life. I’m aware that the Commodores rush defense is pretty pitiful, but they still had 11 guys out there. Sony and Nick and this giant offensive line made it look like nine.
UGA rushing yards: 423
Yards per carry: 7.8 (54 carries)
Rushing first downs: 21
Yards per rush on first: 6.1
Rushing yards in second half: 250
Rushing yards in third quarter: 172
Combined rush yards for Chubb and Michel: 288
Need I say more?
“I tell you what,” Kirby Smart told the UGA radio network on WSB after the game, “they are a dynamic duo. What a blessing to have them back. They are tough kids.”
Georgia is 6-0 for only the third time since Herschel Walker left and this is a game Mr. Walker would love. UGA strategy is right out of the Vince Dooley 1980s playbook. Run like crazy, play defense like crazy and don’t screw it up. But no longer is one stud expected to carry everybody else on his back.
Nick Chubb needed 16 carries today to run for 138 yards. His average is 15 carries a game. Michel popped 150 on 12 totes. His average carries per game before today? 11.7.
Oh and there’s three other guys and a QB who take off with it too.
This can only be a good thing.
I know there’s something a bit magical about watching a running back take it time and time and pile up 30 carries a game. But this here is a much better plan. Georgia never has a tired back and they are all studs.
Just ask Vanderbilt’s coach.
“It’s dead legs,” said Derek Mason about his defense. “These guys need to work on tackling fundamentals.”
This is going to come in handy in the final quarter of close games and the final quarter of the potentially special season. Georgia is a running team with backs who won’t be tired. Seems like a good strategy if you can pull it off.
Part of the reason Georgia is one of the most feared rushing teams in America is the plan for a big, bruising earth clearing offensive line is coming together nicely.
There aren’t many questions left about this young group.
“Not right now,” said UGA analyst Eric Zeier. “You can see them start to jell about three games ago. Each game they are getting stronger and stronger.”
There’s no more looking for the right combo or in practice or early on. Isaiah Wynn, Kendall Baker, Lamont Gaillard, Solomon Kindley and Andrew Thomas are your big uglies now and they are playing exactly the kind of ball that Smart and Jim Chaney were hoping for.
“Our line blocked their tails off,” said Michel. “They’ve grown through preparation. They go out there and grind, so when they get out here it’s easier for them.”
But the praise in this column belongs to the seniors holding the rock. Nick Chubb crossed the 4,000 yard rushing barrier in this game. He’s inching closer to the top five in SEC history. And he’s not in any Heisman conversation. He might even be underrated.
Sony Michel is the best back up in college football and might have had the same stats Chubb has if he could have avoided those nagging injuries.
Both will be great pros and that’s why they weren’t supposed to be here. With the short shelf life of a running back and the loss of millions just one hit away, no one would have faulted Chubb and Michel for bolting for the money.
Instead, these performers came back out for their encore.
“We can never repay them for what they have done for this university, because they came back,” said Smart. “They didn’t come back for themselves; they did it for everyone else on the team.”
Maybe Georgia would still be unbeaten without these guys, but that seems highly unlikely. Instead UGA is moving up in the polls again with fascinating possibilities ahead.
Nick Chubb and Sony Michel deserve all the accolades on and off the field that are given to them.
Hopefully some shiny trophies will be there when the curtain closes on this show for good.