I been up; I been down.

Two reactions to the Michel injury… first, from CFN, which has been high on the Dawgs all offseason:

What Does This Really Mean?

Alright, Brendan Douglas. The floor’s yours.

The 5-11, 215-pound senior only ran for 140 yards last season and is coming off an arm injury of his own, but he’ll be the first option. Fall camp will be used to try to find someone more dynamic.

If there’s one area Georgia couldn’t afford to get hit with a big injury, this was it. Chubb – from all indications – isn’t going to be ready to roll for a while, and the hope is to start out the season with true freshman Jacob Eason at quarterback. That’s a problem if there isn’t a reliable back to carry the load.

Depth was already an issue, and now the options are paper thin needing freshmen Elijah Holyfield – Evander’s extremely talented son – and 6-3, 220-pound thumper Tae Crowder to step up and shine.

Getting through North Carolina shouldn’t be too much of an issue, and getting Nicholls right after is a break, but the running game had better be working with road games at Missouri and Ole Miss to close out September.

Georgia’s top three backs will all be returning from injuries this season.  Nice.  And this is coming from someone who thinks “North Carolina shouldn’t be too much of an issue”.  Kirby’s got an interesting balancing act to weigh early on, that’s for sure.  Considering that Nicholls State is the second game, how much does Smart feel the need to risk the recovery of his stud backs in the opener?  And if he takes a chance on holding them out until the third week, what does that mean for Eason’s development?  Beats me.

Much more gloomy and doomy is Chip Towers.

The timing is rotten, for sure. The Bulldogs haven’t yet said what the timetable is for Michel’s actual return beyond he’s expected to make “a full recovery.” But the number that is being circulated among folks with some knowledge of the situation is six to eight weeks.

That just happens to be about exactly how much time the Bulldogs have to get ready for the start 2016 season.  They play North Carolina in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff on Sept. 3 in Atlanta at the Georgia Dome.

Leave it to Georgia to build a little preseason drama. I mean, they were already heading into the first game of coach Kirby Smart’s first season with a rather notable question mark next to Nick Chubb’s name. Chubb, the starter before Michel, is also negotiating a rehabilitation timeline that looks like it might end right about time to kickoff against the Tar Heels. When the Dogs visit the Dome, it will have been 316 days — or roughly 10 months — since Chubb’s surgery last October to repair three non-ACL ligaments in his left knee.

Generally, nobody has been sweating Chubb’s full return for the opener because, well, everybody was sure the Bulldogs had Michel to carry the load. Now they don’t, or at least they don’t know if they will.

That being said, as Towers goes on to note, this wouldn’t be Michel’s first rodeo with an arm problem.

All indications or that Michel likely could play in  that game. As one reader wrote to me in an email Monday, “it’s his arm, not his legs; he’ll be fine.” And I imagine there is something to that. It would seem that 60 days would be enough time for Michel to heal enough to play with a cast if the need be. He actually played most of the last third of the season last year with a removable cast on his right wrist, which he broke in the first quarter of the Florida game.

One other thing to factor into the equation, which Towers also points out, and which I’ve noted before, is the weakness of North Carolina’s run defense.  Perhaps that gives Chaney and Smart a greater margin of error to work with in deciding which backs get the ball in the opener.

Has anyone’s over/under on Chubb’s carries against NC changed in light of the news?

49 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

49 responses to “I been up; I been down.

  1. heyberto

    What college players are cleared to do vs. what pro players are allowed to do are two different things. But I do think about Thomas Davis playing the Super Bowl with a forearm injury. He was put in a cast and allowed to play two weeks after the injury. I’m sure there are plenty of differences here, but as it was said ‘It’s not his legs’. And He could (read that with a grain of salt, of course) be game ready if he can keep his conditioning up and the recovery goes well. Nothing any of us should bank on, of course.

  2. sUGArdaddy

    In my eyes, this solidly plants Eason as the guy from day one. I see it as kind of a counter-intuitive effect. Most people would seem to think a strong running game lends itself to Eason playing early so that we can lean on that. I believe the opposite is true. A healthy Chubb and Michel actually mean it’s easier to start Lambert or Ramsey and bring Eason along slowly, knowing we can grind out wins vs. UNC and Mizzou and have Eason ready to roll for Ole Miss.

    A shakier than we’d like running game means all signs point to Eason. Coaches care about winning games, and we just might have to put it in the air a little to win that first one, and it’s crystal clear who gives us the best chance to do that. There’s no playing it safe now. We gotta go win the game, and #10 gives us the best shot at this point.

    • If Eason doesn’t start before Ole Mi$$, he isn’t going to make his first start on the road in Oxford. I don’t remember who LSU played on the road when the Mad Hatter threw Brandon Harris into the deep end of the pool (maybe @ Auburn in 2014) for his 1st start and practically watched the kid drown on national TV. He absolutely crushed the kid’s confidence (I believe also a 5* recruit) for the remainder of the year.

      I don’t want to see that with Eason until Chaney believes he’s truly ready to play and lead.

      • Jared S.

        Yeah, but define “truly ready.” I’m guessing you don’t mean “perfect” (because that’s silly) and I know you don’t mean “not perfect” (because that’s even more silly). So I assume you mean somewhere in between the two and that’s the whole crux of the matter, isn’t it? At what point in time and at what point on some talent continuum should Eason be judged “truly ready.”

        Obviously no one is waiting for him to look like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning in their prime – that might take 12 years. But we’re also not waiting for him to look like an Aaron Murray or Matthew Stafford during their best college days…. that might take three or more years. And no one thinks we should have to wait that long to start him.

        There’s a “whole lot” that he isn’t going to learn until he plays in actual SEC games. Some SEC matchup has to be his first. So…..

        When you say Chaney needs to wait until Eason is “truly ready” do you mean that Chaney needs to wait until Eason logs “pretty competent and confident”? Because that’s all I think Chaney should be looking for….. as soon as he can check off those two boxes I think Eason’s getting his start, regardless of the competition.

        Plus, this is a building year. (Whether anyone believes it is or not.) Might as well spend it giving the kid as much playing time as possible….. if Chaney thinks he’s ready, as you say.

        • Jared S.

          *looks pretty competent…. not logs….Sheesh.

        • I agree with everything you stated. “Truly ready” means the coaches trust him to run the offense and take control of the huddle. As I’m sure you know, playing QB is a lot more than arm strength and athletic ability. It’s about knowing who is the hot receiver, communication to get into the right play, adjusting blocking/pass protection, and making the right throw on the route tree based on the same read as the receiver and a ton of other things that don’t show up in the QB’s stat line.

          Just as important as all of the items listed is gaining the trust and respect of the other 10 guys in the huddle as the leader. There’s never going to be a perfect time to start Eason as a freshman. I trust Chaney is going to make the right call on that.

          I think it really comes down to Kirby’s decision on who gives us the best chance to win. When the season’s goals aren’t attainable, that’s the time to decide to forgo wins in the interest of getting the QB ready.

  3. Dr. H. Spradlin

    Are these guys getting enough Vitamin D?

  4. Dawg in Austin

    I think the only concern is that Michel likely won’t be taking full contact until the game. Cast or no cast, that makes ball protection a potential issue. Otherwise he can run, keep up his conditioning, continue to learn the system and plays at practice. Nothing should change. Chubb still gets a few carries to get his game legs stronger.

    • Macallanlover

      Pretty much where I am, Michel will get his legs in shape, run plays against little, to no, contact until late August, wear a protective cast and be pretty solid against UNC. Will mean Douglas and Holyfield may get a few extra carries, but that isn’t all bad to me. Still comes down to whether our OL will be strong enough to allow this offense to pick up the pace in 2016. If the OL is not successful against UNC, regardless of who is running the ball, it will be a very tough road all year. UGA’s backup backs are more talented than what most ACC teams throw at the Heels every week, our run game will not be the problem in the opener, stopping their run game is a much bigger issue to me.

      • 69Dawg

        Spot on. I believe the offensive line is the key to most of the questions. If Pittman can get them to perform then Douglas and the other Rb’s can handle it. Eason can play sooner if the coaches aren’t in fear of his life. If the offensive line is just mediocre then we are in for a long season.

  5. Chance for Holyfield to be the next Walker.

  6. I’ll admit I have no interest in seeing Brendan Douglas as the starter at tailback against UNC if it’s not going to be Sony or Nick. He’s tough as nails and runs hard, but he is not a home run threat. If I’m going to take a chance with a freshman, it’s either Crowder or Holyfield. I would also consider getting Shaquery Wilson ready to start at tailback. He looked good at 93k Day after only getting about a week of preparation.

    • Jared S.

      Agreed. Douglas seems like a great guy (like so many of these kids), but he’s just not in the same league as Chubb and Michel. That being said, running him in tandem with one of the other dudes might be all that’s needed against UNC.

      • Griff

        All that being said, I’m glad we have Douglas!

      • Agree, Jared. Last year Douglas got stuffed a lot in short yardage after Nick’s injury. Defenses knew what was coming when he came into the game, and teams just run blitzed between the tackles to clog up the inside. He doesn’t have the vision or the speed to cut to a different gap or bounce it to the corner. Good guy and his trucking of the USCe and UF guys as a freshman is still fun to watch.

        • Derek

          I knew he wasn’t an outside threat but when that UF LB stood him up in the hole twice in short yardage, I knew he wasn’t a guy we can go with until trash time. It really shouldn’t be too much to ask for a scholarship TB to pick a shoulder and power through for a yard. To hit the guy in the face mask twice and get stuffed? That just wont do.

          • In both of those cases, I believe the LB filled the hole untouched by an offensive lineman. Douglas never had a chance to make a play, but your point is taken. Once you don’t have an outside threat, you can run blitz the gaps tackle to tackle and take your chances. Similar plays to that are the ones Chubb took to the house against Bama last year and Florida in ’14. He either cut to the unfilled hole or bounced to the edge and then outran the defense to the end zone.

            • Derek

              That’s actually the design of the third down play. Because its short yardage and more DL are along the LOS, the OL makes sure there’s a hole cleared out. Defeating the unblocked LB is the back’s job. The hole was there. Pyke pulled around and cleared a wide hole.

              This is no different than run plays on standard downs where the TE’s and OL take care of LB’s and DL’s but the play is designed for the back to defeat an unblocked safety.

              You could have the FB lead into the hole but its tough for FB to clear out a big ILB coming downhill and it just clogs the whole. Its much easier for the TB to give the LB a glancing blow and get the yard.

              On 3rd down they zone block it and Kublanow does his job. All Douglas has to do is cut off his ass and he’s home free. Instead he takes on a blocked LB face up.

              Both plays are just not the kind you see legit TB’s make.

              • Derek

                Sorry the second play was 4th down, not 3rd.

              • I agree. I always thought Douglas would become a Brannan Southerland type of fullback that would stick his nose in there and do the dirty work. When he committed, I never envisioned that he would dot the Georgia I. The guy is a DGD because he has been asked multiple times to play in place of All-American / Heisman candidate running backs in an absolute pinch.

  7. South FL Dawg

    It’s not like we’ve never trotted a freshman RB out there. Welcome to college, freshmen running backs.

  8. lakedawg

    We could run Trent Thompson against that Carolina D and still gain 300 USA rushing.

  9. Lrgk9

    Example:

  10. HVL Dawg

    Nobody’s taking about the running back as a pass protector. Sure, put Eason back there. NC wouldn’t blitz a true freshman QB with a true freshman pass pro, would they?

  11. Otto

    This is big for UGA even if he can play against UNC in a cast. The spring game looked like a shift to more of a mix of pro style and spread sort of what Bama did last year, running out of the shotgun. Sony gives the OC greater freedom to move a RB from the backfield to the slot maybe TEish position. Yes Chubb can catch the ball, but Sony is likely the better route runner. Crowder and Holyfield maybe talented rushers but can they pick up blocks, and run routes at the college level. It will be interesting to see what the new staff does.

    I still think UGA can beat UNC but remember UNC did give #2 Clemson everything they could handle. Yes they lost to a terrible SC team but that was a team that still had SOS on the sideline that really tanked down the stretch, and that was their 1st game with a new DC. In an ordinary year I would take a loss to UNC more harshly than any SEC game but with a new staff, possible true Fr QB, Chubb out, and now Sony possibly playing in a cast, a loss is a real possibility and not the end of the world. I don’t want to see Eason thrown into the spot light if he isn’t ready. The goal of next season especially now is to finish strong and build the discipline/toughness to compete at the highest level.

  12. Would everyone, especially Chip “Dr. Doom” Towers, please just take a deep breath and calm down just a tad. Surgery aside, Michel will be ready in six weeks unless he absolutely shattered both his radius and ulna in the accident. If he had, his prognosis for recovery would have been increased by a month or more, at least. It’s his left arm, not his right, and he has never would shown a tendency to rely heavily on use of a stiff arm tactic when running the ball. He will be fine. The Dawgs will be fine. UNC will be exposed for the pretenders they are no matter who is in our backfield.
    And…the so-called experts at CFN must have access to some pretty sweet inside information with regard to Chubb’s current recovery status, because they mandated that Nick “isn’t going to be ready to roll for a while”.
    Really?
    I’m wondering if they have ever met or, like, actually talked to Nick?
    Do they not know anything about this young man? Obviously not.

    Blatantly obvious, that is.

    Apparently, they are of the same mindset as “Mr. College Football”, who unabashedly stated every medical professional he’s spoken with said “it’s a calendar year”.
    Well, Nick… maybe you should just stay home and watch the Chick-Fil-A Classic on the tube since you can’t possibly be ready to play by then…and you can believe it’s true because Tony Barnhart and the guys at College Football News said so.
    Make the mistake of underestimating Nick if you dare, but you will be sorry you did. Oh, and by the way, you are also going to feel pretty foolish when Sony and Nick rack up 250+ on the ‘heels defense come September 3rd.

    • Cojones

      Sic’em, DawgZilla. You are right on by riding over the negative-minded writers looking deliberately for clicks. Who are these dicks who are trying to blow smoke up our ass? They don’t profess to studying the Dawgs anymore than we do and they appear wrong often. It appears there are confident fans at UGA with more medical acumen than the bozos can see topically that they write about.

      F’ing ATVs.

  13. Bright Idea

    Kirby won’t ever coach a more “there’s nothing to lose” game than the UNC game. I don’t see much sense in trying to be overly cautious and conservative. With both Sony and Chubb questionable why try to play not to lose especially with the concerns up front on defense? I hope he’ll go ahead and start Eason and as many young guys as possible and show them he has confidence in them.

    • Charles

      There is a very real chance that you rattle a true freshman QB permanently if their first action is at starter on national TV in a major OOC game to open the season. That’s not ‘nothing to lose.’

  14. Cojones

    This RB situation is not a call for Eason to start above all others. Ignoring and not visualizing Lambert running our O this year is a mistake that will only work you up negatively against him before the “stupid” coaches start him vs NC. It just increases frustration needlessly since the starter will be Lambert against NC. The following game provides time to incorporate all QBs into the rotation. Guaranteed, if needed, Jacob will be thrown into the mix before they let an “L” happen early, but let’s let the coaches do that, OK?

    • Fans like to chatter and outguess one another.

    • Ignoring and not visualizing Lambert running our O this year is a mistake that will only work you up negatively against him before the “stupid” coaches start him vs NC.

      If the 2015 offseason taught us anything, it’s that trying to predict which QB will start is a fool’s errand.

      • Cojones

        Agreed, but Lambert has already been so designated by Kirby as the one to beat out for the start against NC. I listen to the coaches whose jobs hang in the balance if they don’t put the best we have in there for each game situation.

        You and a few others have to get over this presentation and judging of only the negative parts of Lambert’s play that comes in fits and jerks here. If you presented only the positive parts, you would have him leaving for the NFL before August. You need to look at all the special 2015 plays condensed on film and note the # most often seen, #11. If Chubb had played all season, Lambert would be seen as second in production of the most special plays for TDs.

        Give the guy credit for what he does for us (you have no power to change his play or time on the field anyway) so why not give him those accolades he deserves before going 180 to his bad plays? It’s only fair since he plays for our school and needs to be lauded amongst the QBs for being chosen as the one with the best chance to win. If every player’s performance was ragged by us the way his performances are, we would have no team. Putting him under the microscope to satisfy your “early warning” when he came to us isn’t worthy of your other work here. We heard you the first time and many of us waited to see for ourselves. Like all QBs he ain’t perfect, but he goes out to perform the best he can to the team and coaches’ satisfaction. One of those times brought an NCAA record for completions that will probably remain for many years with Lambert’s and our school’s name on it. Let’s enjoy it.

        Lambert is a Dawg in every way and his struggles are our struggles, just as Aaron’s were. Denigrating a Dawg’s play just because you can pick him apart is unseemly and anyone trying to do that before the season starts is nonsense. Yep, it’s just fans trying to repeat a potential starter’s name often to influence others and to pump their chest and say “I told you so”, but failure to include Lambert in that discussion is growing old. We are proud of all QBs here and any one person’s recognition above others is unwarranted now and certainly shouldn’t be done at the expense of another contributing player who deserves loyalty of Dawg fans.

        • Agreed, but Lambert has already been so designated by Kirby as the one to beat out for the start against NC.

          I must have missed that. When did Smart announce that?

          • Cojones

            Before and after G-Day he has stated the Lambert was their starter until proven differently in preseason competition, but my reply was not concerning the accuracy of that statement, rather the needless insulting curve you have thrown into perception of his ability to lead us. Starter QB has always been an open competition. Shall be begin an argument as to how often he has been selected?

            • Again, I’ve never seen a quote from Smart saying Lambert was the presumed starter.

              As far as “Starter QB has always been an open competition” goes, given that this is the staff’s first season, that’s kind of obvious, ain’t it?

    • Derek

      I can visualize Lambert running the offense without Chubb or Sony. It just makes me ill. For Gene Chizik, its pornographic.

  15. W Cobb Dawg

    I’m with some of the others. Put Eason out there and let him do his ‘mad bomber’ routine a la Daryle Lamonica. For years, no decades, I’ve read about how fast our WRs are. The UNC game is the chance to prove it. Seems to me even if we don’t catch the long ball the WRs can usually count on a few pass interference calls to advance us downfield.

    • Otto

      I don’t see UGA winning a track meet with UNC especially with a 1st time starter at QB. I can see UGA going to the I and pounding UNC’s questionable front 7 taking the load off of the QB and letting the young RBs do what they know.

  16. JasonC

    I remember a while back you discussed a theory that Smart had some silent commits that he was able to have go public to change the media cycle as needed, welp, right on the heels of the Michel announcement, UGA just got a verbal commitment from a 5-star DE that is now their highest rated recruit for 2017.
    Of course, that doesn’t help with UNC and the running game, but like was speculated, you now have a positive bit of news to water down the bad news.

  17. 69Dawg

    What I’m concerned about is this attitude that we are going to roll UNC. I know they lost their QB to graduation but they have a pretty good group on O returning. There defense will be a year into Gene C and for all his faults as a HC he is a very good DC. I think they will be a good test for us and to think that a true freshman QB can just waltz in and start against a P5 team and win is slightly delusional. If Eason starts it means that not only Lambert sucks but so does Ramsey. He looked good in the G-day game so he needs to start, well UNC won’t be playing touch football and they certainly aren’t going to start their 2nd string. The speed he will see will be nothing like he has ever seen on the field.

    • Cojones

      Hear, hear. It also doesn’t mean that he can’t get used to some of that in upcoming scrimmages where he will be up against greater potential for speeds than what NC can furnish. That will all be up to Jacob and what he can accomplish before Atl.

  18. Mr. T

    Kirby probably hit the Maalox when he got the news and then prayed for the rest of the roster to be spared from the accidental injury demon. That said, you play who you have & prepare them as best you can. The importance of the OL (as noted above) performing well now becomes a larger factor than most previously considered and with Douglas ready makes the use of the noobs more of a matter of who gets it the best first.
    The roller coaster ride this Fall just became a bit more daunting at the start.

  19. Hillbilly

    lamberts last outing vs UNC wasn’t ….grand.

    “But for all the yardage, Virginia managed just one field goal in the second half, and when Greyson Lambert threw a dump pass into the arms of 280-pound defensive tackle Nazair Jones, and he returned it 20 yards to the Cavaliers’ 38, it proved to be one request too many of the Cavaliers’ defense.”