Dawgs looking for consistency in their rushing attack
After nine weeks of the season, it’s still not clear which version of Georgia’s rushing attack will show up on a week-to-week basis.
Georgia (5-4, 3-4) comes into its matchup with Auburn (7-2, 5-1) with the 59th ranked rushing offense in college football at 178.3 yards per game. The Dawgs also rank 70th in the nation with 4.4 yards per attempt.
While those numbers on the surface are underwhelming, it’s probably the inconsistency that makes it all the more frustrating. Here’s a game-by-game breakdown of Georgia’s rushing performances in 2016 thus far:
North Carolina: 289
Without Sony Michel, the Dawgs gashed the Tar Heels’ run defense to the tune of 289 yards, averaging 5.6 yards per carry. Nick Chubb had 222 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries while Brian Herrien even added 59 yards and a touchdown on seven carries. North Carolina also ranks 104th in the nation in run defense, allowing 217.3 rushing yards per game, so maybe a little bit too much was made of that first performance.
Georgia got blown up at the line of scrimmage all day against the Colonels. They managed just 167 yards against the FCS opponent while averaging just 4.3 yards per carry. Chubb was even held to 80 yards on 20 carries, which to that point was the lowest total for any game he started (excluding Tennessee from 2015).
Missouri held Georgia to 101 rushing yards and a lousy 2.7 yards per carry. Chubb led the Dawgs with just 63 yards rushing, sensing a trend here? And the only rushing touchdown came on a jet sweep to Isaiah McKenzie. Missouri also ranks 112th in the nation in run defense, allowing 232.7 yards per game.
Ole Miss: 230
On paper, the Ole Miss game featured Georgia’s third best rushing performance of the season so far, but that doesn’t tell the story. The Dawgs were buried into a 45-0 hole with eight minutes left in the third quarter. On the final three drives, with the game out of reach, Georgia tallied 137 of those yards. They did average 5.2 yards per carry in this one, but the Rebels also have the nation’s 117th ranked run defense, at 240.2 yards per game, so the Dawgs’ 230 was par for the course for that defense.
The first half against Tennessee was one of Georgia’s best performances. They rode the running game in the first half for 149 yards on 28 carries, a 5.3 average. But in the second half the Vols held them to 32 yards on 18 carries, a 1.8 average. Michel lead Georgia with 91 yards on 16 carries while Herrien added 74 yards on 15 carries. Tennessee ranks 83rd in the nation, allowing 191.7 rushing yards per game.
South Carolina: 326
The game against the Gamecocks was by far the Dawgs’ most impressive rushing performance in what was Jacob Eason’s worst game of the season. They nearly had three guys rush for 100 yards in the game. Michel led the way with 133 yards on 21 carries, Chubb added 121 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries, while Herrien just missed the century mark with 82 yards on nine carries. South Carolina ranks 89th in the nation, allowing 197.4 rushing yards per game.
Georgia’s rushing attack was shut down against Vanderbilt. The Commodores held the Dawgs to 75 yards on 35 carries, a 2.1 average. Most notably, with the game on the line on 4th and 1 and the ball on Vandy’s 41-yard line, the Dawgs elected to call a toss sweep to McKenzie with Chubb lead-blocking. The play was stopped at the line of scrimmage, giving Vanderbilt their first win in Athens since 2006. The Commodores rank 69th in the nation, allowing 170.2 rushing yards per game.
The game against Florida was the perfect storm for ineptitude in the rushing game. The Gators are by far the best run defense Georgia has played all year, ranking 24th in the nation, allowing 120.3 rushing yards per game. Florida held Georgia to 21 yards on 19 carries, a minuscule 1.1 yards per carry. Eason recorded the Dawgs longest run of the game with a gain of 8. While the Gators do have a great defense, Michel and McKenzie were nowhere to be found in the game plan. Michel got just four touches in the game, while McKenzie got zero.
The Dawgs got what they wanted to see out of the running game in Lexington. They tallied 215 yards on the ground while averaging 5.1 per carry. Michel led the way with 127 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries while Chubb added 85 yards on 21 carries. The Wildcats post the nation’s 92nd ranked run defense at 198.6 yards per game, but at this point Dawgs fans will take any positives they can get.
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