Thursday, May 25, 2006

Position Analysis: Running Backs

Like last year, this offseason I will roll out a series of position reports to give you my analysis, expectations and hopefully point out something you did not know. This installment covers the running backs. (Read Part I: WRs and TEs here).


Projected Starters


TB -- Andre Callender, JR. 5’11, 204lbs or
TB -- L.V. Whitworth, JR, 6’0, 220lbs
FB -- Mark Palmer, SR, 6’3, 245 lbs


Other guys who should see time


TB -- A.J. Brooks, SO, 6’0, 199 lbs
FB -- Survival Ross, SR, 6’0, 207 lbs
LB -- Brian Toal, JR, 6’1, 238 lbs



TOB always favored a featured running back. Two years ago, injuries and inexperience forced him to split carries among three Freshman. As you can see from the chart below, production fell. Last year, I assumed that he would eventually settle on someone and return to form. He didn’t. Brooks was out of the picture as a red-shirt, but Whitworth and Callender split carries. The total rushing numbers improved but running back by committee still proved less effective than TOB’s prior days using a featured back. This year will be a challenge. Splitting the carries three ways really doesn’t seem to help this offense (splitting between two RBs is questionable). I would like to see one guy become the featured back, but I don’t think it will happen.


YearYards RushingAttemptsAvg per carryRushing TDs
2005 1,740 449 3.9 21
2004 1,681 449 3.7 12
2003 2,367 557 4.2 23
2002 2,064 492 4.2 25



Last season the more we saw of 'Dre and L.V., the more each runner's Achilles heal became more noticeable. Whitworth has never shown true game breaking talent or the ability to allude tacklers. 'Dre’s effort seems lacking at times resulting in the occasional fumble and more than one trip to TOB’s doghouse. Based on his limited play, Brooks might be the most well rounded of the three.


As for the Fullbacks, Mark Palmer returns for his final season. A good pass catcher, Palmer improved as a blocker during last season's injury plagued campaign. Survival Ross also moves to Fullback in order to get more playing time.


Upside



Depth is a good thing. While I think Callender is our best option, I am pretty confident that all three will produce similar results in this offense.


Final Prediction

I think Brooks will get the short shrift. I also think parity and coaching preferences will have Callender and Whitworth splitting the carries. I would love to see one of them step up and think Callender is the one who can. He showed how tough he can be last year. He has the better skill. I hope his attitude/outlook improved this offseason.


One other note: Brian Toal was the most successful short yardage back we had last year. If he cannot play this season, BC will desperately need one of these guys to step up in goal line situations.

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