Tailback depth at issue for Bulldogs vs. Gators today

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Greetings from blustery EverBank Field for the annual Georgia-Florida game here on the banks of the St. Johns River.

When I say it’s windy here, that’s not strong enough a word. Winds are blowing steadily at 20 miles per hour and gusting from 25 to 30. There are reports that it could gust upward of that. Watching the fans tailgate around the stadium, I fully expected to see a tent get swept up and tossed across the parking lots.

Keith Marshall is down here in Jacksonville, but not exactly getting ready to play football. (Instagram photo)

Keith Marshall is down here in Jacksonville, but not exactly getting ready to play football. (Instagram photo)

Suffice it to say that having the wind with your team in the fourth quarter will be a big deal today, especially if it’s a close game, which I expect it to be. It’s also the kind of wind that could negatively impact a passing game.

To that end, I would expect both teams to run the football a lot today. It’s what both teams do primarily anyway, but I suspect the weather will dictate that even more.

Obviously, Georgia does that well. The Bulldogs lead the SEC in rushing at 265.9 yards per game. But the lack of depth at tailback is a more of a concern today, I’d say, than in the previous two in which they had to play without Todd Gurley.

As anybody who was on “Frat Beach” on St. Simons Island yesterday can tell you, Keith Marshall will not be available today. The junior tailback is here, but he’s attending the game as a fan. He was partying with buddies on the beach yesterday and was spotted tailgating in the parking lot outside the stadium this afternoon. Despite Mark Richt’s attempts to pretend Marshall might be able to play today, he continues to be sidelined with knee and ankle issues and seems closer to a medical redshirt than returning to the football field.

Likewise, freshman Sony Michel (shoulder) is not available. That means running the football will be left to freshman Nick Chubb, sophomore Brendan Douglas and, in a pinch, walkon Kyle Karempelis. Sophomore safety J.J. Green, who has cross-trained at tailback, practiced on defense this week but would available if needed, Richt said.

Obviously, Chubb has shown he’s up for the task. He has rushed for 345 yards and three touchdowns in the last two games. But that production came on 68 carries. And in a game with the street-fight nature of this one, Chubb can expect his carries to take even more of a physical toll today.

Other developments today: Georgia’s Jonathon Rumph has finally made a road-trip with the Bulldogs. That said, I wouldn’t expect much out of the senior wide receiver today. Why would we at this point? And, again, wouldn’t be looking for a whole bunch of throwing and catching here today.

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