At the start of camp, particularly after the second Saturday, I didn’t really know what to expect from Nick Chubb. I talked a few times with a former letterman who had the ability to watch some practices. He had no doubt that Chubb was going to be his former self.
“What about the running backs? What about Nick?” I asked.
“Man, I got so bored watching Nick,” he responded. “He looked the same as he always has. It’s amazing.”
I spoke with another person - perhaps the person whose opinion I value the most heading into things - who was quite skeptical of Chubb’s return because of the damage done, not because of the person that he is.
“Either I don’t know a single thing about the human body,” he said. “Or that guy is a total freak. I don’t see it. Its hard to imagine him being the same as he was. There was too much torn up in there. I know the type of kid he is - I get it - but we are talking about every single ligament in his knee except his ACL. He would have to be a TOTAL FREAKAZOID… something like we’ve never seen. Maybe he’s not human, and he will kill them.”
And so he is something we’ve never seen before.
Nick Chubb’s return to the football field, which 220 yards and 2 TDs no less, is proof that he’s not like normal people. But, too, it shows just how much work he did along the way. He didn’t arrive at that 55-yard TD game enter by accident - there was a plan.
It was a little surprising when notoriously hard working Thomas Brown returned from an ACL injury in fewer than 12 months. Brown was one of the highest-character players to ever slip on Silver Britches. That he could return from that injury was one thing; that Chubb could return from what he suffered from is quite another.
Also, the narrative about “doubting Nick Chubb” is so stupid. The guy had a catastrophic knee injury. There were a slew of things that could have gone wrong along the way. The “doubting” narrative is a stupid throw away line - like the “doubters” motivated Nick more. He doesn’t need more motivation than he already has. All of that takes away from the reality of hard work that Chubb had to do over the last ten months in order to get things were they were heading into that game. On top of that, I’m not aware of anyone who had met Chubb who would “doubt” him. He’s an amazing individual that has something different about him than normal people. No one ever doubted that he would come back. What’s amazing was that he did so in such spectacular fashion.
Kirby Smart was euphoric on the field after the Bulldogs’ victory on Saturday. He talked with a slew of his players, including Jacob Eason and Greyson Lambert, making sure they knew how important they were to the win. In the post-game press conference Kirby was as happy as I have seen since he took the job.
He seemed relatively relaxed for the first time in the job. I’m not sure how a person could be more active on the sideline. It was an amazing display of a middle-aged person often moving faster than the 20-somethings on the sideline - certainly with more quick-twitch than one might expect from someone nearly two decades past his playing days. His energy is infectious. It felt like he was scoring the touchdown when Aaron Davis scooped up an apparent fumble and ran into the end zone.
If you watched Kirby play in the 1990s, you know that he was a player he rarely made game-changing plays. I feel like he pictures the interception that banged off his shoulder pads in the 1997 game with the Gators every time someone on defense is trying to make a play.
“This time I’m going to grab it!” he must be thinking as he jumps along with his players on the field.
I’ve never seen a head football coach with as much energy as Kirby. Basketball coaches? Yes, but Kirby’s activities on the sideline put the old Vince Dooley Shuffle to shame.