Kevin Butler, former University of Georgia legendary kicker and a member of the Georgia radio broadcast team, will each week during the 2016 football season select his offensive, defensive and special teams players of the week for Bulldawg Illustrated. Here are Butler’s selections and reasons why for the Bulldogs’ 33-24 opening win over North Carolina Saturday.
Junior tailback Nick Chubb, who returned to the Georgia lineup following last year’s knee injury against Tennessee and broke the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game rushing record by running for 222 yards on 32 carries including touchdown runs of 2 and 55 yards, the latter coming with just 3:34 remaining and salting the game away for the Bulldogs.
“After 10 months of rehab Nick Chubb is back,” said Butler. “In the fashion that we have come to know from Nick he was back in TOP form Saturday. He is simply a workhorse. His 222 yards on 32 carries was very “Walker/Gurley” like. But the journey Nick has taken the Bulldog Nation on, with his challenges, may be one of the greatest in Bulldog history. A tremendous young man on and off the field, he is the MVP in game one. Well done!”
Sophomore inside linebacker Roquan Smith, who totaled six tackles against the explosive Tar Heel offense and also accounted for a safety at the end of the third quarter when he tackled North Carolina tailback Elijah Hood in the Tar Heel end zone and pulled the Bulldogs back within 24-23 to set the stage for Georgia’s big fourth-quarter domination.
“One of the young talented linebackers, Roquan had a spectacular game with a safety that really changed the momentum of the game after UGA started their comeback,” said Butler. “His speed is a great advantage for the sophomore from Montezuma, Ga. With a young and thin defensive line his speed will be key to a successful season”
Sophomore outside linebacker D’Andre Walker, who recorded two solo tackles and excelled on the Bulldogs’ kick coverage team, which prevented North Carolina record-breaker Ryan Switzer from having any long returns in the game.
“D’Andre’s toughness and coverage was consistent in an area that needs improvement,” said Butler. “Even though NC returned a kickoff D’Andre’s coverage later in the game put a stop to the Tar Heels dominating the return game. With young kickers the coverage will take on urgency that can only be fixed with intense effort like D’Andre’s. Keep it going DWALK!”