The Bulldogs have a full stable of talented running backs as they head into spring practice and it would not be surprising to see all five receive some playing time this season.
2016 in Review
The Bulldogs relied heavily on their running game in 2016, but they had a very up and down season, which led to them having only the 50th best rushing offense in the country. There were a lot of questions surrounding Nick Chubb coming into the season as he was coming off a devastating knee injury against Tennesse in 2015 that cut his sophomore season short; however, after he put up a 2 touchdown and 222 rushing yard performance against North Carolina in the opening game, his name jumped to the top of the list as one of the favorites to win the Heisman. Rushing yards would be hard to come by after the Tarheel game, though. He was not able to have another 100-yard performance until the Bulldogs sixth game of the season versus South Carolina when he went for 121 yards and another 2 scores. Chubb ended up having a solid year with 1,130 yards on the ground and 8 touchdowns.
The Bulldogs used four running backs in addition to Chubb and they were Sony Michel, Brendan Douglas, Elijah Holyfield, and Brian Herrien. Sony Michel had a solid season in addition to Chubb and was second in rushing on the team with 840 yards, but the emergence of Brian Herrien was the biggest surprise out of this group. Herrien finished the season as the Bulldogs’ third-leading rusher with 363 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns on 63 carries. Overall the running back corps for the Bulldogs last season was solid, but their lack of consistency was what got the Bulldogs in trouble.
New Faces in the Backfield
The Bulldogs only had one signee at running back in their 2017 recruiting class in D’Andre Swift, but he was one of the nation’s best at the position. Swift is an elite running back and was ranked as the fourth-best running back in the nation on the 247sports composite ranking. At 5’9″ and 222 lbs., Swift has that perfect blend of speed and power that is needed to last in the SEC, and he should see the field sooner rather than later.
What to expect in 2017?
All the scholarship running backs are back with the exception of senior Brendan Douglas. With Nick Chubb and Sony Michel returning for their senior seasons, they should lead the Bulldogs rushing attack in 2017 as they combined for 1,970 yards and 12 touchdowns as juniors in 2016. With improvement from the offensive line, Chubb and Michel should be excellent compliments to each other that could be one of the nation’s best rushing tandems. Since the Bulldogs have five very talented running backs, I expect them to use each running back next season.
Chubb, Michel, and Herrien have already shown that they have the talent to be effective running backs in the SEC so it will be interesting to see if Holyfield and Swift can have the same success. Holyfield definitely passes the eye test as he looks the part of a SEC running back, but he was not able to get enough playing time to have an effect last season. Holyfield’s progression this season will be something to watch throughout spring practice. Swift has yet to get to campus as he is set to arrive over the summer after graduating from high school, but he is such a talented player it will be hard to keep him of the field in 2017.
The Bulldogs should have one of the nation’s best rushing attacks and Chubb should make a push for the Heisman in the upcoming season. How the coaching staff uses each of these running backs will be interesting to watch in 2017. If the running backs can have consistently good performances in 2017, then they should help lead the Bulldogs to the SEC title game and maybe beyond.
reps. If Georgia can stay healthy at this position, this linebacking group could be lethal.
Catch up on the other position groups in the 2017 UGA Football Spring Preview series from Bulldawg Illustrated:
2017 UGA Football Spring Preview: Defensive Backs – CLICK HERE
2017 UGA Football Spring Preview: Defensive Line – CLICK HERE
2017 UGA Football Spring Preview: Linebackers – CLICK HERE
2017 UGA Football Spring Preview: Offensive Line – CLICK HERE
2017 UGA Football Spring Preview: Quarterbacks – CLICK HERE
2017 UGA Football Spring Preview: Special Teams – CLICK HERE
2017 UGA Football Spring Preview: Tight Ends – CLICK HERE
2017 UGA Football Spring Preview: Wide Receivers – CLICK HERE
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