Georgia running back Nick Chubb is among the most talented at his position, and among the top draft-eligible running backs entering the 2017 season. But his 2016 campaign was a bit of a disappointment, as he managed just 1,130 yards on 224 attempts.
His 5.0 yards per attempt average was easily the lowest of his career, and a steep dropoff from his 8.1 mark during his injury-shortened 2015 season.
The issue, however, wasn’t Chubb himself. It was an offensive line that struggled to create room for him to run, even against the likes of Nicholls State and UL-Lafayette.
To demonstrate just how porous the Bulldogs offensive line was a season ago, we used our new heat map tool to chart where Chubb was first contacted by the defense on each of his carries in 2016. These results certainly won’t come as a shock to Georgia fans, but seeing it in heat map form is still eye opening:
This heat map shows where Chubb was most frequently first contacted by the defense—red being the most frequent zones, then downgrading to yellow, green and finally blue.
As the map shows, opposing defenses regularly got to Chubb behind the line of scrimmage and only on a handful of occassions did he get more than five yards downfield before encountering contact.
For comparison, we’ll also provide Leonard Fournette’s first-contact heat map from the 2016 season. Like Chubb, Fournette is a runner who doesn’t shy away from contact. So you would expect, under similar conditions, for their contact heat maps to be similar.
The difference between the two heat maps is remarkable, as Fournette’s line clearly paved the way for him to at least reach the line of scrimmage on a regular basis.
It is also striking how much more scattered Fournette’s map is compared to Chubb’s. Because his offensive line gave him room to run, he encountered first contact in a wide range of places on the field, even getting beyond five yards with some regularity.
For Georgia’s offense to take the next step this season, the offensive line will need to elevate it’s play and create room for Nick Chubb to run.