Can Nick Chubb compete with Leonard Fournette?
With a majority of headlines going to LSU running back Leonard Fournette to start the season, Georgia’s Nick Chubb seems like a forgotten man in 2015.
Chubb burst onto the national spotlight during his sensational freshman campaign, following the injury that sidelined Todd Gurley in Week 6. Chubb went on to finish the year with over 1,500 yards, and graded as PFF’s 11th overall regular season running back (+14.8). Fellow-freshman Fournette did not have that type of season, grading as PFF’s 94th regular season running back (+1.4), and therefore did not get the headlines that Chubb received — despite the considerable hype that followed him as a star recruit.
So, while there was much talk about an even better 2015 season for Chubb (and a possible Heisman run), it’s been Fournette who has stolen the headlines this time around. Through the first three weeks of the season, Fournette led the PFF overall RB grades at +8.5.
Meanwhile, Chubb (+1.4 through three weeks) graded as the No. 70 RB in that span. So what gives? Well it’s rather simple, really. Not much.
Chubb actually compares to Fournette just fine; he actually led the LSU back in average yards per carry (8.4 to 8.2) through four games, and was close behind in forced missed tackles (14 to 10) and breakaway percentage. But Chubb hasn’t had as many opportunities to shine as Fournette, who received a stellar +6.7 grade for his work — that is an incredibly rare grade for a running back, and a testament to how dominant he was in that contest. He was also great last week versus Syracuse (we are still awaiting his grades for that game).
So, if there’s more of a perception gap between these two backs, it might have something to do with Georgia not having played a marquee game yet, compared to LSU and Fournette. But Chubb will finally get his chance for the national spotlight this Saturday in Tuscaloosa. If the Georgia RB can put together the type of performance similar to what we’ve seen so far from Fournette, then he could fall right back into place as the Heisman candidate we thought he would be. The oddsmakers out in the desert still like his chances, as he ranks behind only Fournette in the latest Heisman odds.