One can never have enough talent. There’s not a college football coach in America who will tell you otherwise.
That’s certainly true at running back for 7th-ranked Georgia, where one of the biggest challenges for offensive coordinator Jim Chaney is finding enough ways to spread the football around.
The way Kirby Smart sees it, it’s a good problem to have.
“I think anytime you have the running backs we have, you do have to find ways to get them the ball,” Smart said. “Some of them are better in some ways than others, and we leave that to the opponents and you guys to figure out what that is. But each one of our guys is probably a little better at something than the other one.”
Nick Chubb continues to get the bulk of the work for the Bulldogs, yet he’s not having to shoulder the load like he once did.
Chubb has yet to carry the football more than 16 times and comes into Saturday’s contest at Tennessee (3:30, CBS) with 59 carries for 371 yards and six touchdowns, which ties him for the lead in the SEC.
Of course, Georgia has more than Chubb at its disposal, and that’s a great benefit when injuries start to take a bit of a toll.
Take Sony Michel, for example.
Michel injured his ankle late in the game at Notre Dame and missed Georgia’s contest against Samford. Against Mississippi State, Michel only touched the ball eight times (seven rushes, one reception), but that was by design.
“It felt good,” Michel said. “I was able to go out there and play football, good enough to run the ball a couple of times, to help get good yardage, put the team in good position.”
Michel said he felt fine to get more, but with Georgia’s backfield depth, there was simply no reason to overdo it.
“It was a coaches’ decision. I don’t think I needed more carries to help this team,” he said. “I felt I got enough for the game and was fine on going with that.”
The presence of freshman D’Andre Swift, along with sophomores Brian Herrien and Elijah Holyfield, ensure no chances need to be taken.
Swift has certainly been impressive.
In four games, the Pennsylvania native has seen his yardage increase with every game, capped by last week’s effort that saw him rush 10 times for 69 yards. All total, Swift has rushed 27 times for 196 yards, a 7.3 yards-per-carry average, that’s tops on the team.
Herrien (24 carries for 77 yards) has seen reasonable action, while Holyfield has played in three of the first four games, the lone exception Saturday against Mississippi State.
“He just never got an opportunity to. A lot of guys didn't play,” Smart said. “Shoot, we want to get him on special teams, get him involved, we just didn't get an opportunity.”
Speaking of special teams, that’s an area Georgia’s backs also excel at playing and get plenty of opportunities to do so.
“The thing I'm most proud of is the job Coach (Dell) McGee has done of getting those guys to buy into special teams. People don't notice, but D'Andre Swift is on punt. He's on punt return. Sony (Michel) is a starter on punt and he's elite,” Smart said. “There was a play the other night, you don't know it, he's standing down there in front of the guy's face, and he does that every day in practice. Nick has always been really involved. He's not as involved this year, but he always has been. I'm really proud of the way they're doing, and Elijah can help us on special teams in the future.”