This series continues to look at some of the positional questions we have for the various SEC teams. This will not be a look at positional battles per se, instead it will be focused on aspects of those positions from last year and question what we will see in 2017.
Last time out we looked at the running back position in the SEC West and asked three questions in that division. Today we move over to do the same thing in the SEC East:
Is this the year Ralph Webb is finally considered one of the leagues very best?
If you look at most running back rankings heading into the 2017 season you will find Ralph Webb of Vanderbilt somewhere in the eight to five range when it comes to SEC running backs. He is usually on the high end of that scale.
While this is better than a year ago – where Webb would have barely broken into the top 10 – it is still doing a disservice to a running back that every defensive coordinator in the SEC East knows he must stop when facing the ‘Dores. Webb was 93 yards as a freshman short of having run for over 1,000 yards in all three years at Vanderbilt so far and he is on track to become just the eighth player in league history to go for over 4,000 rushing yards in his career.
With Kyle Shurmur doing the job for Vanderbilt at the quarterback position, Webb has a legitimate shot at finishing his college career as the second leading rusher in SEC history. Maybe then he will get his due.
Is Nick Chubb finally fully recovered from his blown knee?
Nick Chubb is one of the best backs in college football when he is fully healthy. That he has rushed for 3,434 career yards while being hit in the middle of his college career by a devastating knee injury is nothing short of miraculous.
Chubb lost half of his sophomore season to a destroyed left knee, which encompassed three blown ligaments including his PCL. While he returned strongly as a junior, there were still signs in games – and entire games for that matter – when he clearly wasn’t yet back to his old self.
With any luck, Chubb comes out this season with the same fire he showed as a freshman when he set the conference alight. Knees are tricky things to heal and it could easily be that 18 months was the time Chubb needed to get back to pre-injury health. Georgia fans will certainly be hoping this is the case.
Where will the ground game come from for Tennessee?
Tennessee took a double hit to their backfield in the 2017 NFL Draft with both quarterback Joshua Dobbs and running back Alvin Kamara disappearing into the league.
The only returning back with any miles on his clock is John Kelly. Kelly finished with 630 yards and five touchdowns in 2016 while compiling those numbers at a promising 6.4 yards per rush. Behind Kelly, there are a lot of questions, with talented true freshman Ty Chandler looking like he will be hard to keep off of the field.
Last year Tennessee had a lot of answers but seemed to hit injury issues at the wrong time. In 2017 there are many more questions than answers with this squad and a running back will need to step up if the Vols are going to be any sort of threat in the East.