ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Georgia has to replace some important pieces from the highest-scoring offense in school history.
Tuesday’s opening day of spring practice provided the reminder some key players return, including tailback Nick Chubb.
Georgia lost quarterback Hutson Mason, tailback Todd Gurley, center David Andrews and its top two wide receivers, Michael Bennett and Chris Conley. The Bulldogs also lost longtime offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, now Colorado State’s coach.
Brice Ramsey, Faton Bauta and Jacob Park began their competition to replace Mason at quarterback. The winner of the quarterback competition likely will do a lot of handing off to Chubb, who ran for more than 1,547 yards and 14 touchdowns as a freshman in 2014 as Gurley was lost to a suspension and knee injury.
Chubb, starting his first spring practice, insists that rushing for more yards than any Georgia freshman except Herschel Walker doesn’t change the way he approaches his second season.
“I don’t feel any pressure,” he said. “I know we have guys behind me. The team has got my back and I have four other great backs with me so there’s no pressure at all.”
Junior Keith Marshall, who was slowed by injuries the past two seasons after rushing for 759 yards and eight touchdowns as a freshman in 2012, looked quick in Tuesday’s drills.
“He’s back. Keith Marshall is back and I’m excited about that,” Chubb said. “I look forward to Keith having a great year.”
Coach Mark Richt said Marshall “has no limitations whatsoever.”
Sophomore Sony Michel and junior Brendan Douglas also return at tailback.
Also returning are four starters on the offensive line, wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell and tight ends Jeb Blazevich and Jay Rome.
Chubb spent spring break working with his former Cedartown (Georgia) High School teammates.
“I’ve never had spring break and gone to the beach,” Chubb said. “In high school I always ran track, so it’s nothing new to me. ... I’ve just done what I’ve always done, continue to work hard and stay focused. Don’t get side-tracked.”
Gurley, who will be among the players who work out for scouts at Georgia’s pro day on Wednesday, watched Tuesday’s practice from the sideline.
Chubb replaced Gurley on the field last season. Chubb said he and others now must replace Gurley’s leadership.
“We’ve all got to step up as leaders on the team,” Chubb said. “I miss Todd. He’s a character and he keeps us laughing when we’re not practicing.”
Georgia set school records with its 537 points and 41.3 points per game while posting a 10-3 record last season.
Brian Schottenheimer, the former St. Louis Rams and New York Jets offensive coordinator, replaced Bobo and is bringing some new terminology in Georgia’s pro-style offense.
“It’s different,” Richt said. “Obviously Mike has been here the whole time I’ve been here, 14 seasons. But I like the way the offensive staff is working. I like the way the offensive unit is responding. There’s enough difference where you’re not going at the same tempo you’re used to going at. That’s understandable.”
Follow Charles Odum on Twitter at www.twitter.com/CharlesOdum