Georgia had arguably the best running back in college football in 2014. But here's the question: Was it Todd Gurley or Nick Chubb?
Gurley, a preseason Heisman Trophy favorite, played in just six games this year, missing four due to a NCAA investigation into memorabilia signings and three to a season-ending ACL tear.
He compiled 911 yards and nine touchdowns in his limited playing time and will likely be one of the first running backs taken in the 2015 NFL draft.
But because of the time missed by Gurley, Georgia ushered in the new face of its offense: Chubb. Looking ahead to 2015, it's fair to wonder how much the Bulldogs will really miss Gurley.
That would have been almost unfathomable to ask four months ago. However, the freshman Chubb finished the regular season with 1,550 yards—going over 100 yards in each of the last eight games—and 14 touchdowns.
CBSSports.com's Tom Fornelli noted that Chubb set a school postseason record with 269 yards in a 37-14 win over Louisville in the Belk Bowl on Tuesday. That number, according to Chip Towers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, is also the second-highest rushing total in Georgia history behind Herschel Walker's:
Some schools are quarterback factories, but Georgia has established itself as one for running backs. For a back of Gurley's caliber to be replaced by Chubb with zero drop-off in production is nothing short of impressive.
Indeed, head coach Mark Richt and this coaching staff have done a tremendous job of recruiting.
The future looks bright for Georgia's offense even though changes are coming. In addition to Gurley's departure, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo has left to become the head coach at Colorado State and quarterback Hutson Mason is graduating.
Still, if the play-calling in the Belk Bowl was any indication, the Bulldogs' identity should remain the same. Georgia called a running play roughly 68 percent of the time and put up 5.5 yards per rush against a Cardinals defense that is No. 2 in the nation against the run.
What's more is that Georgia should return most of its two-deep along the offensive line. With a new quarterback under center—freshman Brice Ramsey filled in Tuesday for an injured Mason—there should be a heavy lean on the run game.
It's what Georgia does best anyway. In fact, there's a case to be made that Georgia shouldn't attempt a pass under any circumstance. Ever.
Provided the Bulldogs can stay healthy, there's tremendous depth at the position as well. In addition to Chubb, Sony Michel, Brendan Douglas and a host of other backs are ready to carry the offense.
Make no mistake, though, this looks like "The Chubb Show" from here on out. No other back has emerged like he has. Be prepared for an offseason of Heisman and All-American hype as well.
None of this is meant to undermine what Gurley has done at Georgia or take away from the kind of special talent that he is. Rather, it's an acknowledgement that Georgia is fortunate enough to have another running back who's big...and fast...and can catch the ball...and can offer pass protection.
It's a luxury Georgia fans should, and will, appreciate for the next two years.
Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. Stats courtesy of cfbstats.com.