Three games into the season, the running game appeared to have shed the memory of last year’s inconsistencies.
In those three games the Rams rushed for 429 yards, nearly half of their 12-game total from last year. Kyle Bell, lost to a knee injury for 2006’s horrific season, was back and running with a passion the team desperately needed. One quarter of the way into the season, Bell’s 310 yards were already more than any back last year (305), and he was halfway to eclipsing the touchdown watermark (3) of all the running backs combined (6) in 2006.
Last Saturday’s conference opener was a different story. The nationally-renowned Texas Christian defense was the immovable object to the seemingly unstoppable Bell, who finished the game with just 9 yards on 7 carries. To compound the matter, Bell was benched in the second half in favor of freshman John Mosure.
“It was very frustrating,” Bell said. “You run into teams like that who are going to be better and are going to be able to shut you down. Now we just have to get ready for the next opponent.”
Coach Sonny Lubick said that the second half adjustment was just to give the team “a spark,” and reiterated that Bell would be the starting back come Saturday. He did hint, however, at more platoon approach to the running game with Bell taking the hard contact carries and Mosure playing the quick-hitting, speed back’s role.
“Kyle’s a different style of runner. He’s got pretty decent speed. It might take him a step or two more to get there at first, and that’s the reason for the other guy (John Mosure) in there – he’ll give us a little ‘boom’. He’ll hit the line a little bit quicker,” Lubick said.
Lubick went on to say that his ideal game plan would be to have Bell take 20 to 25 carries every game, with Mosure and the rest of the backs handling 10 to 15.
The revamped running game will have a good opportunity to shine this Homecoming, as San Diego State has struggled this thus far against the run. Opponents have averaged 182.2 rushing yards per game and 5.1 yards per rush against the Aztecs this season, landing them at 118th in the nation against the run.
Bell said that getting the running game back on track is just a matter of putting all the pieces together: play calling, blocking, and hard running.
“We’ve known all along, since day one, that we have it. We just haven’t been able to go out and put four quarters together and show people we have it. That’s been the frustrating part,” Bell said. “We’re on the verge of breaking out as a team.”