Running back game redone

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Sep 162010
 
Authors: Cris Tiller

The days of the one back running game in football are going by the wayside.

Both college and professional football have shifted to plugging in multiple running backs, a sort of running by committee philosophy.

Colorado State coach Steve Fairchild, like his contemporaries, has changed from using one guy in 2008 ––graduate Gartrell Johnson III –– to four, and sometimes even five, running backs a game.

“I think that’s who we are right now,” Fairchild said.

Maybe this is because Fairchild has five talented players in his backfield, each bringing their unique set of skills.

Seniors John Mosure and Leonard Mason bring experience, junior Raymond Carter and redshirt freshman Chris Nwoke are a balance of size and speed, then there is electric true-freshman Tony Drake with mind-blowing speed.

Carter is slated as the No. 1 player on the depth chart but does not mind sharing carries.

“All of us can get the job done,” Carter said. “Whoever is in, we are right behind them to cheer them on to make the big play.”

Running backs coach Anthony Hill is pleased with how they have responded to sacrificing individual statistics for the sake of trying to win games.

“We’ve got a great group. I haven’t heard any (complaints),” Hill said. “We break on family all the time. I think that’s what it is. Guys want to see the other guy do well.”

Success has been in short supply for all the running backs thus far in a season that’s still young. Yet this “family” sticks together pushing their brothers to get better.

“Me and (Mason) right now, were just goofing around talking about the safeties trying to get him. So the next play he just ran over the other guy, and next play I was trying to run people over,” Nwoke said. “It just makes competition throughout practice to who’s going to make a play.”

The fact remains that each game has limited carries and some players have to suffer from Fairchild’s new approach to running.

Mosure went from being the starter a season ago, to kick returner with only two carries in as many games in 2010.

Mason led the team in both carries and yards last year but has dropped to fourth on the depth chart.

Then there is Drake.

He only has two carries but with an average of 16 yards. As Drake matures in the offense, more touches may go his way to utilize the game-breaking ability he offers.

“I don’t push the coaches,” Drake said. “I let them make that decision and let my play tell it all.”

However, the running backs accept the coaching staff’s new viewpoint on rushing 100 percent.

“It is what it is, so we’re just going to keep competing,” Nwoke said. “Everybody’s legs will be fresh with that, so I don’t see any disadvantages. We’ll keep going hard and win some games.”

In the end, only time will tell if a running back committee will work for the Rams.

Football beat reporter Cris Tiller can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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