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How Georgia's revised running game can make Nick Chubb even deadlier

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No worries at all about half of the Dawgs' offense. Here's how UGA will feature its Heisman contender this time, though.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The predominant feature of the Mark Richt era in Athens: running backs. From Knowshon Moreno to Todd Gurley to Nick Chubb and next to Sony Michel, the Dawgs have been stacked in the backfield and keyed by their running game. Kirby Smart will undoubtedly want to make the most of this.

Two years in a row, Chubb has ran for an average of 119 or more yards per game, with Michel, Gurley, and Keith Marshall all getting plenty of carries, as well.

Chubb ran for 146 yards on 20 carries against Smart's 2015 Alabama defense, good for 7.3 yards per carry. Alabama won 38-10, but it made Georgia the only team to break 3.9 yards per carry on the Tide D (5.1, in fact). They did this largely thanks to an 83-yard romp by Chubb when the outcome was no longer in question, but the explosive power of feature backs was one of the few consistent bright spots in Georgia's season.

In 2016, the Dawgs return three starting OL, their tight end, and most of their skill talent. Chubb returns from injury as a top Heisman contender and one of the country's biggest reasons this season is a year of running backs. The QB role could go to five-star freshman Jacob Eason, who impressed fans in the spring game.

With former Arkansas and Pittsburgh OC Jim Chaney coordinating the offense, it seems obvious that Georgia will make running the ball with Chubb a key strategy.

Here's how Chaney will look to make the most of Chubb's talents.

Chubb is a classic back, at 5'10, 220. He's thick-set and low to the ground, making him difficult to tackle and well-suited to SEC pounding. He's plenty fast and ran a 4.47 40-yard and 4.12 shuttle, back when he was a high schooler. He's usually the best athlete on the field and absolutely someone an OC wants touching the ball 20 times every game.

Between his jump step, acceleration, and knack for fitting into creases before exploding out the other side, he's not limited to any particular scheme or style, though it'd be a shame to waste him by only running him between the tackles.

His big run against Alabama is a nice example of what he offers on the inside:


There's a definite assignment bust by second-round linebacker Reggie Ragland, but there's also Chubb getting downhill in an instant and blowing through the hole far too quickly for Alabama's safeties.

The play call here is inside zone, the foundational concept of Alabama's own offense. The Dawgs run it to the weak side (the side with fewer blockers and the right side on the diagram below), which allows them to block the Alabama DE with young TE Jeb Blazevich and get double teams on both Tide defensive tackles:

Georgia IZ vs Bama

Because Blazevich is on the backside, he just has to screen the DE. He doesn't have to drive the big man off the ball. Alabama tried to drop its free safety down to get a numbers advantage near the line while also using nickel Minkah Fitzpatrick on the weak side to free up the LBs to flow to the ball, but Ragland missed the memo. The Dawg double teams combined with Chubb's burst left the Tide no margin for error.

In fact, the line didn't even block either linebacker, but they prevented any penetration and were able to turn DT Dalvin Tomlinson's shoulder and pry open an A-gap for Chubb to blast through.

There's a lot of upside for a Georgia run game that sets up Chubb to make quick cuts off double teams between the tackles.

Simply pounding opponents every other down with inside zone would suit Chubb. But that's Saban-ball, not how Chaney likes to do things.

At Arkansas, Chaney got a reputation for having so much diversity in his running game that it made the Hogs very difficult to prepare for.

Arkansas also had a reputation for fielding one of the most massive and intimidating lines in the entire country. Last year, it averaged more than 320 pounds per player.

That will not be the case for Georgia in 2016. Its best lineman is junior Isaiah Wynn; he might move out to left tackle if this spring lineup stays consistent:

Left tackle Isaiah Wynn 6'2, 278 Junior
Left guard Dyshon Sims 6'4, 293 Junior
Center Brandon Kublanow 6'3, 282 Senior
Right guard Lamon Gaillard 6'2, 298 RS Sophomore
Right tackle Greg Pyke 6'6, 313 Senior

Also in the mix is Rhode Island transfer Tyler Catalina, a 6'6, 295-pounder.

Richt tended to recruit guys more like Wynn than say, Arkansas' 344-pound Denver Kirkland. UGA has fielded lines that were more about mobility and versatility. But that might fit Chaney's desire for a varied run game.

In the spring game, Chaney ran a version of inside zone that would suit a small line:

This is more of a veer-inspired take, with the difference somewhat blurred. This play aims for the gap between the kick-out block (B on the diagram below) and the double teams. Running this to Wynn's side would take advantage of the fact that he is excellent at getting under a defenders' pads before putting a lick on the linebacker, as well.

Georgia weak zone

Chaney also looked to drive the ball between the tackles on power, which had pretty mixed results against the Georgia defense, and to attack the perimeter with stretch runs such as this:

Georgia stretch T

This also makes the most of Wynn's athleticism, this time as a lead blocker in space, and sets up Chubb to cut upfield through DBs. A play like this requires mobile OL who can find targets and a back who can find his way through the mess. That's a better bet for this small, quick Georgia OL than trying to maul people would be.

The marriage of Chaney's run game to Georgia's stable should be a good one with his wide variety of run schemes allowing the Dawgs to rotate backs and pound every part of the line of scrimmage. Now if they can get their passing game going ...