With Nick Chubb still dealing with an injury, it was up to Sony Michel and Brian Herrien to carry the load for the Bulldogs. Chubb did have a carry early in the ballgame for a minimal gain, and did not come back in the game. Michel and Herrien picked up the load as both looked impressive today, especially in the first half.
It looked good early in the running game as Georgia found nice holes early to run through. Michel ran hard all night and picked up 37 yards in the first quarter alone. He also ran to the outside well and made some nice cuts to gain extra yards. Michel blocked well when he needed too, but the Bulldogs only threw 10 passes in the first half. Sony caught two of those passes with another target that fell incomplete. At the half, Sony had 10 carries for 72 yards and a touchdown. The second half was a different story unfortunately. Sony only had three carries for 11 yards in the 3rd quarter, and then only three carries for 8 yards in the 4th quarter. Michel finished the game with 16 carries for 91 yards and 1 touchdown. He did fumble the ball at the goal-line, but it was recovered by quarterback Jacob Eason in the endzone.
Freshman Brian Herrien played very well in my eyes. He's not the biggest guy, but he ran hard today and picked up some tough yards that I didn't think he could. Herrien rushed 5 times for 32 yards in the first quarter, and was the second guy off the bench after Michel. It's clear the coaches have confidence in the young freshman to put him in some serious situations during the game. In the 2nd quarter, Herrien rushed it 4 times for 33 yards. He showed good quickness in space and toughness to finish runs. It was a similar story for Herrien in the second half though. The freshman carried it only twice for 7 carries in the 3rd quarter. In the 4th though, Herrien carried it 4 times for only 5 yards. On the day, Herrien carried the ball 15 times for 77 yards.
Overall I was pleased with the run game. Going into the game I was hoping for Georgia to be more creative in the run game, and get the backs out in space. What I noticed is that they ran out of the shotgun most of the game. That could be becuase the coaches thought that was best, or because Jacob Eason is still uncomfortable under center. Either way, I didn't see Georgia run out of the I much at all. They ran a couple sweeps out of the I, but they ran out of the shotgun most of the time. McKenzie got some carries as well on some reverse calls, with mixed results. He didn't break a long one, but there were a couple times were he got the edge and picked up the first down. There were also times where he lost yardage, which is a total drive killer. McKenzie carried the ball 5 times today for 24 yards.
Overall, it was a great first half for the Bulldogs rushing attack. They gashed the Vols defense at times, leading them to a 10-point lead at the half. The Bulldogs went away from the run as the game got closer, and put the ball in Eason's hands. The game got away from Georgia when the running game left. That wasn't the reason Georgia lost today, but I would expect to see the running game continue to pick up the rest of the season. As a team, Georgia rushed the ball 46 times for 209 yards (3.9 average) and two touchdown.