The X factor’s X factor

I know I’ll probably get some pushback on this, but as much as I’d like to point to all sorts of things being the key to Georgia’s success in the SEC this season, I can’t help but think it really boils down to one item:  Nick Chubb’s health.

Here’s something ESPN’s Alex Scarborough wrote:

When identifying the biggest X factor in the SEC, you could simply say “Georgia” and be done with it. With a new coaching staff, a deep well of talent and a relatively easy road in the East, the Bulldogs have a chance to shake up the conference. But to be more specific, there are two X factors to consider: Jacob Eason and Nick Chubb. We’ll start with Chubb. Before Leonard Fournette came along and Chubb went down with a knee injury against Tennessee, Chubb was the best back in the league. If he can get anywhere close to 100 percent, he and fellow running back Sony Michel could form the most dynamic backfield in college football. If they do, Eason’s role could get interesting…

That’s putting it mildly.  You can talk about the lines, size on defense, depth, attitude and anything else you want, but a healthy Chubb makes his teammates on both sides of the ball better, makes his coaches smarter and makes that margin for error just a little larger.

Scarborough’s right in the specifics, too.  With Chubb as your number one back, Chaney’s got far more flexibility in how he deploys Sony Michel.  Remember what even Schottenheimer was able to do in that department before the Tennessee game.

And, yes, a fully loaded backfield takes tons of pressure off both Eason and the coaches, if they decide he’s earned the starting job.  (Eason’s most important immediate task may very well be mastering the art of selling the play action pass.)  It almost goes without saying that the more productive and dangerous Georgia’s offense is, the better Georgia’s defense will be.

All of which isn’t to say Georgia won’t win a few games without Chubb’s services.  But…

13 Comments

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13 responses to “The X factor’s X factor

  1. Uglydawg

    “Before Leonard Fournette came along and Chubb went down with a knee injury against Tennessee, Chubb was the best back in the league”.
    Derrick Henry might disagree.
    Scarborough pretty much states the obvious but I suppose it’s news that an ESPN dude actually did some homework.
    Yes, Georgia’s backfield will be loaded with talent. But so will other SEC teams. There is always a great running back or two emerging in the conference. By the end of the year we’ll know some names we haven’t heard yet.
    Even so, Georgia is loaded at the position,(pending Chubb’s being in pre-injury form and health) and has a few guys that can get open and catch the ball.
    But it still comes down to the O line. If they are good enough to spare a tight end running a route occasionally, and if they are good enough to keep Eason vertical, and if they are good enough to get the runners into the defensive backfield, Georgia will do very nicely…
    Although Eason’s arm is wonderful, it will be the long, ball controlling drives that keep the defense rested and the score down, that wins the tough games. Eason’s greatest contribution will be keeping the D backs honest and off balance.

  2. I need a cold shower after that highlight reel.

    Chubb and Michel are explosive running backs. Michel does things that Chubb doesn’t do … in particular, in the passing game. Chubb, of course, has a bit more power and incredible vision. I love watching Sony in the open field. It looks like he’s not running hard, but no one seems to be able to run him down. When Chubb breaks through the 2nd level, the guys who are fast enough to run him down don’t want to try to get him on the ground.

  3. MGW

    Given how hard the team was to watch in general last year, I just didn’t expect his highlight reel to be to extensive. Just didn’t really notice it. He’s a LOT better than I remember.

  4. Russ

    They totally glossed over Michel’s best highlight when he trucked that Gamecock defender at the goal line and then just looked at him on the ground.

    Oh, and this just in….a healthy Chubb makes us a lot better. A lot.

  5. 92 grad

    The highest compliment anyone can get in regard to their performance is “you make it look easy”. Every RB1 we have had in recent years has that quality of deceptive skill, where it looks like anyone could do it, but very few can.

  6. Macallanlover

    While he is right about the potential impact for UGA being huge, and likely being the difference in who goes to Atlanta from the East, getting two “X” factors answered is asking a lot. One would be great, but two Hail Marys of this magnitude is asking for a miracle.

    I have no doubt that Nick Chubb will get himself ready to play, barring additional injury, I see him playing a role by the opening game. But I don’t think he will be the 2014 version of Nick Chubb before late in the season, if then. That was a serious injury and his ability to make instinctive, quick cuts in the middle of the run is one of the main reasons he busted so many big plays. The vision and instincts will be there but can the body respond? We all hope so but I am not expecting an 1800 yard season with twenty TDs from him in 2016.

    As for Eason, we all know the long odds against a banner season for a true frosh QB. He certainly looked like the real deal throwing the ball in the Spring Game, but his ability to make all the throws was never in doubt. Taking snaps under center, quick reads and blitz pickups, checking into the right plays, ball handling to make play action work, are some of the many questions still unanswered. I am not opposed to throwing him in the deep water this first year, perhaps even in the first game as a starter, because I don’t think 2016 looks like a championship year for UGA anyway so why not begin the process of developing our 2017 starting QB?

    Bottom line is both of these X factors coming in favorably would not only mean we win the East, but makes it conceivable we could compete with the West winner. I think our best hope is scrapping our way to get to Atlanta, making a solid showing that helps us build some momentum in recruiting to getting us ready for an SEC title run in 2017.

  7. Cojones

    Why do I feel so yucky and need to clean up after individual player film? Sony has accomplished his game well here. Does anyone have a bucket of cold water handy? Yowsa! Thanks.

    Notice the blockers in this film. Who are our blockers this year and will our new TEs come up to par in that dept? Nauta is the guy I’m watching on runs. He has a tough guy manner after touching the ball and I’m curious if he shows that same toughness when blocking for Sony and Nick. If he and the other TEs are good in that dept from the beginning, then the porn just became sizzling.

    Every game will look like selected game film if all those cylinders could be meshed. Bobo sure knew how to build that O machine with these same players; let’s see if our new O Coach can put our Big Red Scoring Machine back together again. Now, that would be worth cheering!

    • Macallanlover

      I am afeared we will be longing for Bobo’s offense for years to come. It was explosive, and it seemed to pile the points up against all levels of teams. Bog down a couple of times? Sure, but we were the dangerous fast gun that could get in a rhythm and hit you with any number of weapons from many directions. And for the most part, we did it with very average OLs and usually with a few spare parts plugged in for some injured player that might have been last week’s star. Really hope he gets things going in Fort Collins and gets a first rate gig in the next 2-3 years (before the money runs out!)