This spring Kirby Smart made no bones about the fact that his running back depth was not where it needed to be. Well, things may have just gotten a little bit worse. University officials confirmed today that junior tailback Sony Michel fractured his forearm yesterday. UGA's statement was silent on the matter, but the AJC and various other internet rumors indicated the injury resulted from an ATV accident. Michel, also an acclaimed horseman, had what was termed "successful" surgery today, and a full recovery is expected.
The bigger question is whether that full recovery will take place in time to prevent Michel from missing time in 2016. The Bulldogs begin fall practice in four weeks and square off against North Carolina to open the season in eight. With Nick Chubb still not cleared following the witches' brew of ligament injuries he suffered last October, Michel and the 1161 rushing yards he amassed last year were the closest thing to a sure thing Smart had in the backfield. Fractures come in an infinite variety of sizes, shapes, and complexity. Michel could have one of the ones that can be cast and ready to go in three weeks.
But the fact that the fracture required surgery raises the possibility that this one doesn't fall into the simple, fast healing category. If for some reason Michel is not available in the early going and Chubb isn't cleared, Georgia's experienced depth drops to almost nil. Brendan Douglas can be counted on to run heedlessly over people, but he's not a homerun threat in the same zip code as Michel or Chubb. Former receiver Shaquery Wilson showed some moves on G Day, but that's a long way from game day. Tae Crowder is physically gifted but untested. Freshmen Elijah Holyfield and Brian Herrien are both promising, but again, unknown quantities.
In short, Georgia has the bodies. But while there's every reason to believe that some of those guys would make serviceable replacements right now, and that one day some of them might be superstars, there's just not a surefire stand-in for Michel and Chubb in the next few weeks. Even if Chubb is physically ready by September 3rd, only time will tell whether he's mentally ready to trust his reconstructed knee, and whether it will stand up to beating over the course of an SEC season. Michel was the safety net in case things go wrong with Chubb, so if he's not ready to go things get dicey in a hurry, as the rundown above shows.
So while this injury doesn't exactly rank as catastrophic, it's definitely not what Georgia needed headed into a nationally televised opener against a likely top twenty opponent to begin the Kirby Smart era. Remember kids, nothing good ever happens to college football players after midnight, at Talladega, in a strip club, or on an ATV. It's just science. Until later....