Fall Camp, Day #7: Who will carry the burden of carrying the ball?
Aug. 13, 2012
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Rushing the ball effectively is one of the primary focuses of fall camp according to head coach Mike Riley and determining who totes the rock when and how often is the dilemma facing the triumvirate of Riley, offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf and running backs coach Chris Brasfield.
So far the answers to those questions remain a mystery to those paying attention.
Thus far during fall camp Coach Riley has maintained that as long as the Beavers find a way to gain 1,700 yards on the ground this season he’s not too concerned with how or who gets them to that goal. In 2011, the Beavers gained 1,043 yards, an average of 86.4 yards per game. For the most part, the same cast of characters returns with the intent of upping that number to Riley’s goal – 141.7 ypg.
The onus falls largely on a group of backs that were in the system last year. Malcolm Agnew (five starts in 2011), burst onto the scene with a 223-yard rushing performance in his first college game, but a hamstring injury interrupted his season prior to the second game and he gained only 200 yards the rest of the way. Terron Ward (three starts) finished the season as the starter, but while he showed glimpses of star tailback ability consistent success eluded him. Senior Jordan Jenkins (two starts) returns and is likely to assume a similar role to the one he grew into in 2011, that of a third-down back. Jenkins registered 31 catches last year as a check down option and backline blocker.
Entering the fray in 2012 is Storm Woods, a redshirt freshman, who displayed all kinds of potential during the spring and had Coach Riley gushing about his ability to run routes and catch the ball in addition to his rushing ability. In addition, true freshman Chris Brown has arrived on campus and passes the eyeball test but needs to continue to digest the playbook in order to remain in the mix.
The coaching staff is satisfied that the rushing production can be found from that group of five tailbacks, certain enough to move last year’s second-leading rusher, Jovan Stevenson (two starts), to cornerback before fall camp started.
The official depth chart is muddled with This Guy OR That Guy OR That Other Guy, but things could begin to crystalize as early as the end of the week. Coach Riley has indicated that the coaching staff will begin to make decisions regarding who will redshirt in 2012 by the end of the week and while Brown may be the most logical candidate, there is the option of using redshirt seasons for Ward or Agnew, both of whom played as true freshmen in 2011.
One thing is sure, while the depth chart indicates a plethora of bodies in the mix for playing time there is also an abundance of talent ready to take the field.
The other position in the backfield is more settled with senior Clayton York the established starter at fullback. Despite the fullback position sharing snaps with the H-back and slot back, York earned three starts in 2011 and began to earn opportunities as an offensive option scoring a touchdown on a swing pass. Sophomore reserve Tyler Anderson is a former high school tailback and is a more dynamic weapon offensively, but lacks York’s experience. Both are key players on special teams. Redshirt freshman Michael Balfour also joins the mix this year after sitting out last season.
The OSU video team was back on the field in full force and today had Coach Brasfield mic’d up for the focus of the day – running backs. Tuesday is scheduled to feature the cornerbacks with coach Rod Perry.
The Hit of the Day was delivered during the final period of the first practice: redshirt freshman linebacker Kyle Gardner came clean off the line and laid out Brown on a run up the middle resulting in whoops and hollers along the defense’s sideline. It was hard to tell what Coach Riley’s thoughts were on the physicality but the black shirts certainly appreciated the effort.
Monday is the second of six double-day practices. The first practice was at 11 a.m. with full pads, while the evening drills began at 6:30 with the team in shells.
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