ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia junior Sony Michel often gets texts from Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, wishing him luck in the tailback spot they used to occupy.
“It’s great to be part of that fraternity,” Michel said.
Sunday’s win over South Carolina showed what’s possible with a healthy Michel and Nick Chubb. Both tallied more than 100 rushing yards – Michel had 135 on 21 carries and Chubb had 124 yards and two touchdowns on 16. Freshman Brian Herrien wasn’t far behind. He finished with 82 yards on nine carries.
It was the first time this season a Georgia tailback passed 100 rushing yards since Chubb tallied 227 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries against North Carolina in the season opener.
“It’s comforting to have both guys,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “You’ve got two really good football players and not only are they great players, but they’re really good leaders on our team.”
But it comes down to more than numbers for Georgia. The way Chubb and Michel run, like picking up yards after contact, is a motivator.
“It inspires the offensive line to block harder,” Smart said. “It inspires the receivers to block harder. The guys sitting over there on defense that’s resting, they play with more energy and passion when they see their back churning for extra yardage, so we take a lot of pride in that.”
“It fires up the whole team,” wide receiver Reggie Davis said. “It just gives us that juice and everybody starts playing harder.”
And the early emergence of Herrien helps, too.
“They’ve got three good backs,” said Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason, whose Commodores visit Georgia at noon Saturday. “Everyone talks about the top two, but you look at what the young guys are doing and he’s done a really good job of being able to get out there in place of Nick Chubb and putting up numbers.”
Herrien hasn’t hit the 100-yard mark in a game yet. But realizing how close he was offers an incentive for Georgia, Michel said.
“Knowing that we were that close, it kind of gives us a challenge,” Michel said. “Maybe this week, we’ll try to get more.”