Elijah Holyfield was the first running back to have a 100-yard rushing game for Georgia this season. Yeah, you read that right, Holyfield carried the ball eight times for 101 yards and a touchdown against Middle Tennessee State. He paced the offense and helped the team defeat the Blue Raiders 49-7. However, does that mean he’s arrived? Not yet.
Since he got to Georgia, Holyfield has continuously gotten pushed back on the depth chart of the running backs. He was in the shadow of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel for two years. However, that didn’t hold him back from working and getting better.
With Chubb and Michel gone to the NFL and true-freshmen running back Zamir White tearing his other ACL, Holyfield had to step up and become acquainted with carrying the ball more.
“I think I’ve tried to get in better condition for more carries,” Holyfield says. ” I’m trying to get stronger, bigger, faster, just all the things any other guy would do.”
Another thing he does that’s helped him with improving is not what he does during practice but after it.
“One of the managers throws me 110 balls every day after practice,” Holyfield comments.”I’m big on catching it, and I knew it was one of the things I needed to work on coming into this season and being a complete back. I’ve worked on it a lot, and I’m looking forward to letting it show.“
Head coach Kirby Smart states that he’s one of the hardest workers on the team. It’s all about physicality, and that’s one thing he brings to the table.
“He practices tough, physical. Every day for him is physical. There is not a day he goes out there and says ‘I’m taking this day off or I’m not going full speed today.’ He’s not a guy you have to motivate. He loves the game,” Smart said. “He practices hard. I think he likes competition because when he gets thudded by a guy, he always likes to come back and get that guy back. You kind of see that out there in his play. He likes contact, and he’s a bowling ball. He’s hard to bring down. He’s really tough.”
One of those guys that have the chance of going up against him is J.R. Reed.
“He’s probably one of the most physical backs we’ve seen. He’s learned from Nick (Chubb) and Sony (Michel) and how to practice,” Reed states. “He pushes us in the secondary and the defense to get after it. He does a good job. He’s probably one of the hardest backs in the SEC to bring down.”
Despite all the good stuff said about Holyfield this season, has he done enough yet to prove he can handle the responsibilities that come with this role? Has he put it together and show that he’s worth starting and getting significant playing time at Georgia? In my opinion, no he has not done enough yet.
Through three games, the junior leads the Bulldogs with 22 carries for 200 yards. Holyfield averages 9.1 yards a carry and already has two touchdowns on the season. However, the Bulldogs haven’t played a team where the opponents challenged the run game.
Holyfield’s improved a tremendous amount this offseason, and I’ll be the first to say it. However, I think he’s still got some growing room. This week against Missouri who only gives up about 74.4 yards on the ground will be his first real challenge of the season.
Once he shows that he can tote the rock against tough SEC defenses, then he’ll officially arrive as one of Georgia’s top running backs. Yes, he ran against South Carolina, but the Gamecocks give up 397 yards on the ground. The Tigers will try and stop Georgia’s run game, and that’ll be the top priority.
Holyfield has a prime opportunity to prove his worth as a Bulldog this weekend. He’s off to a great start already, but if he continues producing these numbers this weekend, then he’ll officially arrive on the scene to show what he’s all about.
Georgia needs a physical running back, and Holyfield is holding the opportunity in his hands.