Georgia offense stout without Gurley

The NCAA announced on Wednesday that Georgia running back Todd Gurley will miss two more games, keeping him off the field when Florida and Georgia face off in Jacksonville this Saturday.

The Bulldogs come to Jacksonville with the 15th best rushing attack in the country, averaging 265.86 yards per game. Taking out a Heisman Trophy candidate hasn’t seemed to slow them.

With Todd Gurley out against Missouri and Arkansas, freshman Nick Chubb stepped in and took over the load. Backups Sony Michel and Keith Marshall have also been out, forcing Chubb to total 68 carries in the Bulldogs’ last two games. The former four-star recruit has totaled 345 rushing yards and three touchdowns in his two starts.

Gurley was in contention for the Heisman Trophy before the suspension occurred, but Florida defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin sees similar talent in Chubb.

“He's a very physical runner,” Durkin said. “He finishes runs. He's got some good top end speed. He's hit some big runs, and they use him out of the backfield, too. Just like they did with Gurley. Like I said he's very talented. I see them doing the same things whether they have him or not."

The Georgia offense doesn’t change with Chubb in the game, either. It’s a pro-style, two-back offense that’s a more traditional attack like the ones Florida faced with Alabama or LSU. The Gators gave up 223 rushing yards to Alabama and 4.3 yards per carry. Against the Tigers, the Florida defense allowed 195 yards and 3.9 yards per carry.

The Georgia rushing attack is better than both of those on paper. Chubb will have to handle most of the carries. Brendan Douglas, who started the year fifth on the depth chart at running back, will serve as the team’s backup. He has 24 carries for 122 yards and one touchdown this season, averaging 5.1 yards per carry.

"They still run the same offense,” Durkin said. “Their scheme really hasn't changed with him being out. Obviously, we've had the benefit of seeing some games with him out. They've got some really good running backs besides him.

“He's a great player, but they have some other really talented running backs they can do a lot of the same things he does. They run the offense the same way."

The Georgia offense has only turned it over four times this season. Many of the Florida players and coaches credited veteran quarterback Hutson Mason for that. He has been behind Aaron Murray at the position in recent years, but he’s experienced in the offense and knows how to get them into better looks at the line of scrimmage.

That’s an important part of what makes the Georgia offense go.

“I think he handles their offense well,” Durkin said. “He has been involved in that offense, although not as the starter, for quite some time. You can tell he understands what they’re trying to get done. He has good command of what’s going on. He has been very accurate with his passes. He makes good decisions, they’ve protected the ball well. I think they’re comfortable, and you can see he’s comfortable in what they’re doing offensively in how he functions.”

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