Georgia beat North Carolina on Saturday, 33-24. Bulldogs running back Nick Chubb played his first game since a grisly knee injury cut short his 2015. It couldn't have gone a lot better.
Chubb's 55-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter put the game basically out of North Carolina's reach. It was a prominent part of what turned out to be a gorgeous stat line in Chubb's first game since Oct. 10 last year: 32 carries for 222 yards and two touchdowns. That'll do, pretty much every time.
Beyond Chubb, the game was still a good deal of fun and went back and forth a lot. Georgia scored first, North Carolina eventually took a 24-14 lead, and then the Dawgs powered back with the help of some woeful game management by the Heels' coaching staff and a 51-yard completion from Jacob Eason to Isaiah McKenzie.
Georgia's longest completion last season was 48 yards, and that figure's in the rear-view mirror already. The Eason bomb to McKenzie set up a field goal that gave the Dawgs a 26-24 lead, setting the stage for a competitive closing act.
Georgia started Greyson Lambert instead of Eason, a five-star true freshman, but Kirby Smart moved to the rookie by the team's first full drive of the second quarter. Eason comported himself well, but Lambert returned late in the fourth quarter, essentially to give the ball to Chubb and kneel down. Who knows how Smart will manage this going forward? Maybe not even him.
That's sort of secondary, though, because Chubb looks a lot like Chubb. And if Chubb is Chubb, the pressure on whoever's handing him the ball 30 times per game becomes significantly less.
The Dawgs have a new offensive staff in place this year, and it isn't a new take that Chubb should be able to thrive in a scheme like this one or any other. But his Saturday return was a smashing success, and that should bring Smart's program all different kinds of encouragement – no matter where everything else stands.