A clear indicator of our overall offensive ineptitude last year was then-junior running back Nick Chubb’s drastic yards per carry decline.
After averaging seven yards per rushing attempt as a true freshman in relief of midseason Heisman frontrunner Todd Gurley and totaling just over 1,500 yards, with 14 touchdowns, Chubb actually increased his “YPC” (yards per carry) by a full yard to eight as a sophomore prior to his injury. Georgia’s last half schedule Chubb’s frosh year did have some of the weaker SEC East opponents, but Chubb also had 100 yards in the first quarter against a tough Florida run defense, gashed Auburn running alongside a post-suspension Gurley and set a bowl rushing record over Louisville’s top-rated defense. The soft early Georgia schedule his sophomore year was such that Chubb was not needed to continue playing as much late into games, then he was literally the lone bright spot against the Bama defense that would win the national championship, staying on his average while slightly out playing eventual Heisman winner Derrick Henry.
Then Tennessee happened. The Georgia-Tennessee series has been an exciting but unfortunate nightmare for our Dawgs for two years running. Nick wasn’t, he was done for the year. He got only one carry against them last year as well after he was banged up early in the Ole Miss debacle the prior week.
He came back ahead of schedule to start that junior campaign, where he kicked UNC for 222 in a win in Atlanta. Even averaging in that Herculean effort, Chubb fell to just five YPC as an upperclassman. Seven, then eight, then five, with way too little success in the red zone as well. We were not a legitimate power team last year. Beleaguered true freshman quarterback Jacob Eason actually way outperformed both Chubb and running mate Sony Michel in red zone productivity during a tough five-loss campaign. Are we much tougher now?
Chubb broke seven tackles and had 15 carries for 96 yards (6.4 YPC) Saturday, with two touchdowns, while my dude Sony Michel chipped in with 87 on 16 (5.4 YPC) and added another score. Those are fairly pedestrian numbers for both, though three rushing touchdowns between them does look pretty good – as did a 31-0 lead against a scrappy, albeit undersized, team.
We have won 5-of-6 total football games by leaning on our cult hero field goal kicker and a salty defense that was pretty well smoked at home against Georgia Tech but has otherwise done enough to win games in spite of our offense.
When Georgia wins and wins big, our team is always led by a strong running game. Here’s hoping the Chubb-o-meter starts really rolling.
II. Wide scheduling:
It’s a DAILY DOUBLE…This wide scheduling that is all the rage across the country has not been that kind to the University of Georgia. It’s so awesome for the fans, though, right? Actually, in my opinion, only if and when we win.
We haven’t so much, really.
Georgia went 1-1 versus a downtrodden Colorado, losing their Blackout game on an inexplicable late fumble in the red zone when we only needed a field goal, after barely edging them at home behind “The Buffalo Killer”- a young Joe Cox off the bench to replace a struggling Matthew $tafford (typo intentional).
We swept Arizona State, but they were in one of their many down cycles. Nice area to visit, pretty desert, and that’s it for the ultimate success at this.
We took out the Oklahoma State Pokes at home behind a dashing D.J. Shockley. A couple years later we were at Okie State, getting beat.
Even avoiding the blue turf, we went 1-1 versus an upstart Boise State. Got them at home and then got embarrassed by them in Atlanta. Didn’t get to see the mountains and still went .500 in the cross-country series.
Ohio State came on and off the books without a game. Oregon, I think, the same. Or are they still out there in the distant future? I can’t recall, y’all.
The harsh poetry of it all was so much for A.D. Greg McGarity that he cooled on the whole wide scheduling concept significantly, in his cardigan…until the magic of the NBC Golden Domers was too much not to jump at. I mean, Vince Dooley is throwing out the first pitch at a Cubs game. Chicago is the birthplace of the skyscraper and they stuff pizza. 1980. Heck, even I got so juiced I had made CANINES vs. CATHOLICS (copyright and trademark) T-shirts; they sold out.
But, I feel we have to get both of these games for it be of any benefit to the football program. We could use a potential CFP boost, for sure. Remember, the College Football Playoff is just a one round play-in, decided by popularity.
Considering our 6-21 record in Jacksonville, our two game losing streak to SEC East also-rans Tennessee, our two game skid in Athens to a suddenly explosive Tech. Considering we ran off a clean coach that won ten games a year to get that much better, even 1-1 against Notre Dame is a total bust nationally.
Starting the season 1-1, however, would not dissuade me much that we could be a good football team this year. I’m loving our defense that much.
Look at Oklahoma, for a second, and consider what might have been for Richt and the University. No riding off into the sunset after Athens. Goff sells chicken. Donnan talks Georgia football and was at the top of the pyramid of an alleged Ponzi scheme. Even Dooley was ousted as A.D. before he wanted to go away. Then, Richt was forced to move to his sunny and talent-rich home state to coach a four-time national champion that won nine games in his first year. They even let him call plays. I digress: Big Game Bob left the cupboard full at OU, after dropping two games to start last season. He won his last 11, and they now have the longest winning streak in college football going. Early success was never matched again, but definitely, don’t expect any five-loss transition. The Boomer Sooners were last seen nationally completely running old AU-Barn off the (“SEC!”) Sugar Bowl field in the Deep South, and they have a senior quarterback I’d trade for a year for any player on our roster. We scored no offensive touchdowns versus the Plainsmen-Tiger-War Eagles last year.
Back to the Indiana Heartland, where ND was not even close to bowl-worthy last year but looked a little bit better than UGA in week 1 of 2017, totally exploding on a Temple team that won their conference in 2016. Another advantage besides the Touchdown Jesus / the Pope is a big fan home field one is that Notre Dame is a program too obnoxious for any football conference. They play big non-regional games like this multiple times every single year. We don’t.
For us, this is kind of like 1980, man. Huge. GO DAWGS!!!