ATHENS, Ga. — Thanks to Nick Chubb, concerns about Georgia's running game have subsided even as Todd Gurley's status remains uncertain.
Chubb has proved with his tough running that No. 9 Georgia's ground game is in good shape without Gurley.
Chubb delivered impressive performances the last two weeks while Gurley was suspended for allegations he broke NCAA rules by receiving improper benefits. There has been no update on his status since Georgia filed a request Wednesday for his reinstatement.
Georgia, off this week, hopes to have Gurley back for next week's game against Florida in Jacksonville. Georgia's emphasis on the run won't change even if Gurley remains suspended.
Chubb was a one-man running attack in impressive wins over Missouri and Arkansas as Georgia also was without injured tailbacks Keith Marshall and Sony Michel.
"I had to step up," Chubb said Wednesday. "I had the rest of my teammates behind me, helping me out and pushing me. It's a big role, the Georgia running back. Not only that, but coming in after Todd. I feel like everyone was happy we did it without Todd, but if he comes back it's even better."
Against Missouri, Chubb ran for 143 yards and a touchdown on 38 carries, the most for any Georgia player since 2001.
In last week's 45-32 win at Arkansas, Chubb had 30 carries for 202 yards and two touchdowns.
The 38-carry game put Chubb, a freshman, in rare company in Georgia history. Verron Haynes had 39 carries against Georgia Tech in 2001. The only other Georgia player to have more than 38 carries in a game was Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker, who had 39 or more four times.
Many saw Chubb's workhorse performance as a sign of his durability and toughness. He said the bigger physical test came when he did not miss a game after having surgery to repair his broken left thumb early in the season.
Chubb had a big cast on his hand but still had had four carries for 10 yards in 66-0 rout of Troy on Sept. 20, only a few days after the surgery. He said he didn't dare miss a game for fear he might fall behind in the competition for carries.
"I was determined," Chubb said. "During that time there were still a lot of running backs. We were still competing. You can't take days off when you've got a backfield as good as we have. I was just trying to maintain myself."
In an era when most teams take a committee approach at running back, it's common to see players tap their helmets as a signal to send a replacement from the sideline.
Georgia coach Mark Richt said he has never seen Chubb "tap out" — even in the 38-carry game.
"I'd be shocked," Richt said. "I mean, I wouldn't look down on him but I've never seen it. He's young in his career but that game he carried 38 he could have tapped out a couple times but he never did."
Richt said Chubb (5-10, 228) never shows any sign of fatigue.
"He is a tough kid," Richt said. "You just can't tell if he's tired, if he's hurting, you just can't tell. His body won't tell you that. He just goes hard and he hustles back and he goes hard again. That's Nick Chubb."
Richt said coaches look for signs a player needs a break even if the player wants to remain in the game.
"You don't want a guy to be vulnerable because he's fatigued," he said. "But if you watch him, you just don't see any signs of that. I really don't know what he feels on the inside but he's just a very physically and mentally tough kid."
Chubb seemed surprised so much attention was paid to his consecutive games with at least 30 carries. He said he became accustomed to heavy workloads as a standout at Cedartown (Georgia) High.
"I just always work hard," Chubb said. "People are surprised by 38 carries but in high school I got about 30 carries and played defense. That wasn't new to me. I felt the same after the game. That's what I've always done."