A year ago, running back Nick Chubb suffered a potential career-ending injury at Tennessee, and he had made his way back. Now just four weeks after seeing his first game action since then, he may not be able to face the Volunteers again as Georgia’s star has had a minor setback.
Chubb was injured in the second quarter of Georgia’s 45-14 defeat to Mississippi last Saturday, in which he tweaked an ankle and did not return to action. Since that moment, his status has been in doubt for this weekend’s marquee matchup against Tennessee and beyond.
The premier running back was seen in a walking boot on Monday, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. Georgia head coach Kirby Smart addressed the situation as the first question asked was in regards to the fan-favorite and highly regarded rusher.
“He’s going to continue to rehab really hard,” Smart said during Tuesday’s media briefing. “We’re obviously hopeful he’ll be able to do something, but we won’t know more until later in the week. But it is an ankle injury.”
In addition, Chubb was not present during the seven minute viewing period of Monday’s practice, according to a report from Jason Butt of The Telegraph and macon.com. However, the Georgia staff could have been hiding Chubb from the brief media availability window.
Chubb is a key cog in Georgia’s offensive attack, and is capable of being a difference maker at any given moment. Although largely in part to his 222 yard performance in the season opener, Chubb has amassed 422 yards and three touchdowns in 2015. Prior to going down to injury against Ole Miss, he ran for 57 yards on 12 carries in just under two full quarters of playing time.
One of Chubb’s “bodyguards,” senior offensive lineman Brandon Kublanow, was bold in speaking of Chubb’s status, presumedly believing that Chubb’s hardworking mentality would allow him to see action against the Volunteers.
“I’m pretty sure Nick’s going to want to play this game, after what happened last year,” Kublanow said to reporters. “This is what he’s been working for, so I expect a lot out of Nick, and I expect he expects a lot out of himself.”
If Chubb is unable to go, Georgia has other options. Sony Michel has experience in assuming a starting role, however two freshmen running backs have been prepped for the opportunity. Brian Herrien and Elijah Holyfield were given a significant workload in Georgia’s defeat, and they displayed true ability.
Herrien was Georgia’s hero in a sense as the freshman made the score seem a bit more respectable, scoring twice while rushing for 82 yards on 11 carries. Holyfield was able to see his first offensive action at Georgia, after playing only on special teams against Missouri. He only received four carries, but made the most of it by tallying 27 yards.
Smart spoke on their performances, and indicates there may be a greater need for their productivity against Tennessee and beyond.
“With Nick (Chubb’s) injury, we didn’t know at the time whether or not if he was going to be able to play this week,” Smart said. “So we were sitting there going, ‘We better get Elijah ready.’ And he did a nice job coming in, catching the ball out of the backfield, running the ball. He runs really hard and runs with good toughness. I’ve challenged those freshman guys. We’re needing their help and we expect Elijah (and Brian) to play a role certainly on offense.”