The opening week of the football season has been called one of the best of all time and I have no problem with calling it that. There were some really good match ups, and some great teams going against each other. There were also a lot of great players going against each other.
In Atlanta at the Georgia Dome, North Carolina and it’s Running Back Elijah Hood came in to do battle with nearby Georgia and their Running Back Nick Chubb.
Hood is one of the more under publicized players from the fantastic 2014 recruiting class of Running Backs which included Georgia’s Chubb, LSU’s Fournette, Florida State’s Dalvin Cook, Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey, Oregon’s Royce Freeman, Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine, Tennessee’s Jalen Hurd and several others.
Hood was not as well known and he was the least successful of that bunch as a true freshman when
he only ran for 259 yards.
Last year, Hood showed why recruiters were so high on him before when he exploded for 1,463 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Hood was back for his junior season with plenty of help on the Tar Heel team. The biggest factor was the Offensive Line which returned 4 out of 5 starters. But, their Wide Receivers could be considered among the best in the country led by Mack Hollins, Bug Howard, Ryan Switzer and Austin Proehl.
The biggest problem for the Tar Heels was replacing 3 year starter Marquis Williams at Quarterback and they couldn’t stop the run for the past few seasons. Junior Mitch Trubisky seems like a more than capable replacement at Quarterback.
Samaje Perine actually had more yards rushing than any of the 2014 freshmen Running Backs, but Georgia’s Nick Chubb was probably the most celebrated that season.
However, against Tennessee during his sophomore season, Chubb was lost for the season on his very first carry of the game. In his first 5 games, Chubb was well on his way to another super season with about 740 yards rushing.
Nobody outside of Athens, Georgia really knew if Nick Chubb would be back to his old and talented self in 2016.
The North Carolina Tar Heels may have lost their Quarterback and they may have had problems
stopping the run in 2015. But, Georgia has had problems of it’s own.
The Bulldogs fired long time head coach Mark Richt after last season and they hired Alabama’s Defensive Coordinator Kirby Smart.
Richt’s biggest problem at Georgia recently was keeping his best players out of the operating rooms of local hospitals.
Georgia also hasn’t had really consistent Quarterback play since Aaron Murray graduated after the 2013 season. Hutson Mason was pretty good in 2014, but they played conservatively that season and when he left, the Quarterback position wasn’t good at all.
They signed the solution to their problem in the 2016 recruiting class with Jacob Eason, the son of former NFL Quarterback Tony Eason.
Last Saturday was his first college game and he hit 8 out of 12 passes for a modest 131 yards and a Touchdown.
Eason was an early enrollee and he looked spectacular in the Spring Game. Eason was expected to be named the starter by coach Smart, but apparently Smart is not as smart as the armchair Quarterbacks. Last year’s starter, senior Greyson Lambert, was named the starter for their opening game.
But, Georgia is all about the running game and Nick Chubb is their latest star.
This game was a battle to the very end with Georgia pulling away for a 33-24 win.
Chubb ran wild proving that he had not lost anything when he suffered such a serious injury last
October. When all the smoke had cleared, Chubb also proved that North Carolina still has work to do on their defense against the run. With 32 carries, Nick Chubb ran for 222 yards and 2 Touchdowns averaging just under 7 yards per carry.
Elijah Hood did not fare as well, but it was no fault of his. When your star Running Back averages over 7 yards per carry and your other Running Back averages 13 yards per carry and you give them 10 carries and 6 carries respectively, then something else is wrong. Hood carried the ball 10 times for 72 yards and super speedster TJ Logan ran 6 times for 80 yards.
One has to wonder if moving the ball so well on the ground why not keep doing what works.
New Quarterback Mitch Trubisky only threw for 156 yards.
There were several questionable calls late in the game as the SEC tried to save face from a very bad weekend.
But, none of that is on Nick Chubb who had a really spectacular day after working so hard to come back from such a devastating injury.
What could have happened for Elijah Hood had he carried the ball 22 more times to match Chubb? Hood averaged more yards per carry than Chubb, but didn’t get the ball nearly enough.
Georgia is off to a good start and could compete for the SEC East title.
North Carolina lost last season’s opener against a different SEC team before ripping off 11 straight wins. They are still very much in the ACC title race.