Monday, March 1, 2010

Quest for 2000- Others

Here are some excellent backs who could run for 2,000 yards if not hampered by some major issue whether it be the system they play in, their own explosiveness, and/or sharing carries.

Alfred Morris, FAU- Powerful back in a defensively weak conference. Unfortunately, not very explosive so will not have the yards per carry to equal 2,000.

Montel Harris, Boston College- Thickly built back who can really grind a game out. Will get his carries but is not a breakaway threat so will not get a lot of yards for his carries. One thing to keep in mind is him running out of the Wildcat formation. Also plays in the defensively stout ACC.

Daniel Thomas, Kansas State- Tall, powerful back built a lot like John Clay. Unlike Clay, does not have much talent around him.

Robert Turbin- Before tearing his ACL, Turbin was one of my favorite backs going into 2010. He has a good build, can catch the ball, has good speed, and reminds me a bit of a poor man's Ryan Williams. Although he does have to split carries with his quarterback.

Evan Royster- Another tall, lean back who is as complete a back as you will find. However, he plays in a defensive tough conference, is breaking in a new quarterback, and does not receive the amount of carries necessary to reach 2,000 yards.

Jacquizz Rodgers- Rodgers really could break 2,000 yards but I am concerned about his size. I bite my tongue as I say it because of guys like Garrett Wolfe and Darren Sproles but he is taking a beating every year in the Pac-10. Also his team has a new quarterback.

Noel Devine- As explosive as they come, Devine is a homerun threat everytime he touches the pigskin. However, his carries are limited due in part to his size and his system. He will also be working with a new quarterback and will lose some carries to Ryan Clarke.

Vai Taua- Big back who is really explosive. Will share carries with Colin Kaepernick and Lampford Mark.

Kendall Hunter- Great year two years ago but now has a new OC and has some size/injury issues.

Ryan Williams- Powerful, fast, and complete back who could very well vie for 2,000 yards if not for Tyrod Taylor, Darren Evans, and David Wilson stealing carries.

Mark Ingram- Heisman winning back who has a dangerous skill set. Unfortunately has a new quarterback and will be sharing carries with Trent Richardson. Also plays in the tough SEC.

LaMichael James- Possibly the most explosive back in college football but due to the system he plays in, he will lose carries to his quarterback, Jeremiah Masoli. Also his eligibility is in question for 2010.

Quest for 2000- Shane Vereen

JJ Arrington, Marshawn Lynch, Justin Forsett, Jahvid Best, and now Shane Vereen. This has been the amazing succession of running backs to come out of Cal in the past 5 years. Now you may notice that only Arrington hit the 2,000 yard mark but I think Shane Vereen could be next.

Vereen was an amazing backup to Jahvid Best and filled in better than most would have imagined when Best went down last year. Vereen is not as fast as Best but I think he is a better all around back in that he can take more carries and runs inside better than Best.

With that said, here is a breakdown of the pros and cons on Shane Vereen becoming the next 2,000 yard rusher in college football:


Undisputed feature back

Returns 4 Offensive Line starters

Returns starting Quarterback and top receiver

Averaged 27 carries per game as the starter in the last 4 games of the season

1 42 carry game

100+ yard games- 4 20+ carry games- 3 Avg. yards per game- 73 Starter- 142

Analysis: So I know that I am basing a lot on Vereen's few games as a starter but they speak volumes. During his four games as a starter, he averaged 27 carries a game and 142 yards per game. Going into next year he has shown the ability to excel with all the carries and has lots of tread on his tires still.

He returns 4 offensive linemen, his starting quarterback and top receiver, and although Jeff Tedford likes to run two backs, Vereen should get plenty of touches.


Averaged 14 carries per game

Shared backfield with Jahvid Best; never been the feature back

Loses starting fullback

Analysis: Basically it is just a waiting game to see how Vereen handles full time duty. I think he will hold up admirably but after averaging just 14 carries a game on they year, one has to be cautious. Another thing against him is that he loses he starting fullback.

Overall Analysis:

Shane Vereen is the type of tailback that could have started almost anywhere else but at Cal he was behind the blazing Jahvid Best. I think that could help him though. He will enter the 2010 season without much wear and tear and therefore could really bust out.

He is not very big but has shown the ability to take some punishment as witnessed by his 42 carry game against Stanford. He has a thick build, can catch the ball out of the backfield, and has the wheels to take it to paydirt.

Shane Vereen is definitely capable of breaking out for 2,000 yards in 2010 so just snatch him up on draft day.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Quest for 2000- Dion Lewis

What is the term that Mr. Vitale uses to to describe a phenomenal freshman? Oh, that's right! Diaper Dandy. Well consider Dion Lewis of the Pitt Panthers to be just that. All this 'diaper dandy' did in the year after he graduated high school was lead the Big East in rushing, lead all freshman (redshirt or true) in rushing, and finish third in the country in rushing yards with 1,799 to go along with 17 touchdowns.

That is utterly amazing for anyone but even more impressive considering last year this guy was playing football in high school. What makes his performance even more spectacular is that he played in a major conference and stand 5'8 and weighs just 195 pounds!

Dion Lewis was expected to help Pitt with the sting of losing LeSean McCoy to the Philadelphia Eagles, along with the help of several other more highly recruited 'backs. At the end of the year, people were definitely not feeling any loss at all.

Lewis is just another example of this rash of scatback-sized tailbacks who are small, quick, and thickly built. They are small enough to hide behind their blockers, quick enough to burst through the smallest seams, and strong enough to shoulder some carries.

With that said, here is a breakdown of the pros and cons on Dion Lewis becoming the next 2000 yard rusher in college football:


Averaged 25 carries per game

Returns 3 Offensive Line starters

Returns former starting quarterback (P. Bostick) and top receiver

1 47 carry game

100+ yard games- 10 20+ carry games- 11 Avg. yards per game- 138

Returns top fullback

Good defense allows him to run deep into games

Analysis: Lewis is the true definition of a workhorse. One thing Lewis has to look forward to next year is that he returns 3 offensive lineman, returns a former starting quarterback in Pat Bostick, the team's top receiving target in Jonathan Baldwin, and even his bruising fullback, the Polish Plow, Henry Hynoski.

Lewis showed that he could handle the bulk of the carries by averaging 25 carries per game topping off at 47 carries against Cincinnati. He had ten 100+ yard games, 11 with 20+ carries, and averaged a monstrous 138 yards per game. Another point is that with a good defense, he should be getting carries deep into a game to eat up some clock instead of having his quarterback wing the ball around to get back in the game.


No 200 yard games

Loses starting quarterback

Loses top two TEs (Dickerson & Byham)

Analysis: Now not having a 200+ yard game will not mean the end to a possible 2,000 yard rushing season but it certainly helps to build a cushion. Lewis is a very quick back and had his fair share of long runs which helps him to keep a good YPC. Losing Bill Stull could end up hurting Dion more than anything else. Having the ability to throw on defenses to keep them honest definitely helped Lewis. Another possible setback is that Pitt loses their top two TEs in Dorin Dickerson and Nate Byham. Now Dickerson was more of a receiver but is still quite a loss with his ability to keep defenses from crowding the box. However, losing Byham could hurt more because of his excellent blocking.

Overall Analysis:

Overall I think that Lewis got the workload to show that he could make it to 2,000. His team will most likely go to a bowl game which helps his chances. Also his team likes to run the ball heavily. However, with a new quarterback in place, teams might be keying on him a bit more. I still think he has an excellent chance to break the 2,000 yard barrier in his second year.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Quest for 2000- John Clay

Last year the Big Ten turned in just two 1,000+ yard backs. For those in the know, this is kind of out of the ordinary as the Big Ten has had a history of ground-churning backs. From 2004-2008, the Big Ten had 5, 7, 6, 6, and 5 1,000 yard backs, respectively.

Putting history aside let us talk about the tailback who lead the select few (two) who surpassed the 1k mark. John Clay finished up a sensational sophomore season (take that Dr. Seuss!) with 1,517 yards and 18 touchdowns. John Clay had people in Madison forgetting PJ Hill and hailing him the second coming of Ron Dayne.

And why not? Like Dayne and his predecessor, PJ Hill, John Clay is a powerback true to form. He stands 6'2 and weighs a reported 247 pounds! Unlike Hill, however, Clay has much more of a second gear.

With that said, here is a breakdown of the pros and cons on John Clay becoming the next 2,000 yard rusher in college football:


Averaged 22 carries per game

Returns 5 Offensive Line starters

Returns starting Quarterback and receivers

100+ yard games- 9 20+ carry games- 10 Avg. yards per game- 117

Good defense allows him to run deep into games

Analysis: While at the beginning of the year there was a little bit of uncertainty as to who would be the workhorse back at Wisconsin but Clay quickly put that debate to rest. He really hit full stride in the second game of the season and averaged 22 carries a game over the rest of the season. Another incredibly important key to reaching 2,000 yards is having all 5 starting offensive linemen returning. It definitely does not hurt that Wisconsin returns their starting quarterback and top receivers. A good defense also allows Clay to continue to run the ball deep into games.

John Clay got a good amount of carries and was consistent with his production putting in 9 games of 100+ yards while averaging 117 yards per game. At 6'2 and nearly 250 pounds, there is no worries of him being able to take the punishment as well as give the punishment. He is a big, powerful back with some decent wheels and will be running behind a road grading line.


Loses Garrett Graham at TE

Carries are capped off and given to Montee Ball

No 200+ yard games

No great fullbacks

Analysis: While Wisconsin does return the incredibly athletic Lance Kendricks at TE, he is more of a receiver than a blocker. Unfortunately for Clay, Garrett Graham graduated. Graham was a prototypical blocking tight end and really helped clear the field for Clay. Another point is that it seemed like Bret Bielema would let Clay get his carries and about 100 yards rushing before pulling his workhorse and giving carries to Montee Ball. This could be a cause for concern if Clay is shooting towards 2,000. For all his production and consistency, Clay never really had huge breakout games as witnessed by his lack of a 200+ yard game. Lastly, there have not been any fullbacks of mention since Chris Pressley and Bill Rentmeester.

Overall Analysis:

Clearly John Clay has the physical ability and size to make it to 2,000 yards. He has enough of a passing attack on his team to keep opponents honest too. However, it seems as though the coach will continue to cap his carries and spread them to Montee Ball, thus limiting the possibility of reaching 2,000 yards. Although this is a possibility, I would say that Clay could still reach the coveted goal of 2,000 rushing yards in a season.

Quest for 2000- Jordan Todman

Last year everyone was wondering who would replace the 2,000 yard rushing effort of Donald Brown, who is now playing on Sundays. Well everyone pretty much thought that no one person could replace that kind of production, so Randy Edsall used two. Yes, the combined efforts of Andre Dixon (1,093 yards) and Jordan Todman (1,188 yards) did in fact replace Donald Brown's production and now that Dixon is gone, it is Todman's turn to break 2,000 yards individually.

From a fantasy perspective, the UConn backfield was quite frustrating. One week it would be Dixon blowing up and getting the bulk of the carries, then next week it was Todman, or it seemed that every week each shared a limited number of touches. However, nobody would frown upon two 1,000 yard backs or Todman's individual production of 1,188 yards and 14 touchdowns.

With that said, here is a breakdown of the pros and cons on Jordan Todman becoming the next 2,000 yard rusher in college football:


Returns 4 Offensive Line starters

Returns starting quarterback

100+ yard games- 5 20+ carry games- 6 Avg. yards per game- 91

Good defense allows him to run deep into games

Returns starting fullback

Analysis: Todman returns 4 of his starting offensive lineman, his starting quarterback, and even his head-busting fullback, Anthony Sherman. Another good thing is that UConn's good defense will keep Todman getting carries deep into games as they help to keep the score low so that Zach Frazer doesn't have to wing it to get back in games.

Despite splitting carries, Todman finished with five 100 yard games, 6 games of 20+ carries, and averaged a very respectable 91 yards per game. One might wonder if the 195 pound Todman can handle the carries of a workhorse back, and while that remains to be truly seen, he showed he could handle the ball 25 times a game which is commendable.

Also Todman has the explosion that is necessary of a 2,000 yard back and he can catch which should help to keep him fresh.


Only averaged 18 carries per game

Shared time with Andre Dixon; has not been workhorse back

Top receiving threat graduated

Spotty quarterback play

Joe Moorhead

Analysis: Todman obviously did not carry the ball many times a game and it seemed that whenever he did have a 20+ carry game, it was followed by one of considerably fewer carries. The big question for Todman in 2010 is if he can take all of the carries for this team.

Other factors that may hinder his rise to 2,000 are spotty quarterback play and a lack of a go-to receiving target. Zach Frazer is not going to win games with his arm and walk-on sensation, Marcus Easley, has graduated.

Another thing to just keep an eye on is Offensive Coordinator, Joe Moorhead. He was brought in to install this no-huddle, spread attack. Well as any smart coach should do, Moorhead and Edsall changed the system to fit the players and not the other way around (see Rich Rodriquez's first year at Michigan). I doubt they will go pass-heavy anytime soon but it is something to consider.

Overall Analysis:

Ultimately, I think Todman has a great chance of being a 2,000 yard back. Edsall has shown an affinity to funneling the offense through his backs and with the lack of receiving targets, strong offensive line, and poor quarterback play, it's safe to say he stays that course.

Physically, I think Todman can take the punishment as he is an elusive runner who is deceptively strong. He has a great line and is returning most of the players around him.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Quest for 2000- Donald Buckram

So from a fantasy perspective no school has been as frustrating at UTEP. They have a good quarterback, great receivers, and now a stellar running back. However, it is anyone's guess as to which facet of this fantasy diamond will shine brightest from year to year or even game to game.

One thing I think we can all count on is that the UTEP Miners will look to feed the ball steadily to their game breaking 'back, Donald Buckram. Buckram took the 2009 season by storm, finishing 6th in rushing yards with 1,594 and 4th in rushing yards per game with 132.8. He also finished 3rd on his own team in receiving with 453 yards. What's next for a running back that just finished the year with over 2,000 yards from scrimmage? Well possible it is 2,000 yards rushing...

With that said, here is a breakdown of the pros and cons on Donald Buckram becoming the next 2000 yard rusher in college football:


Averaged 21 carries per game, but got hot late in the season

Returns 3 Offensive Line starters

3 200+ yard games

Returns starting quarterback and some receivers

100+ yard games- 8 20+ carry games- 6 Avg. Yards per game- 133

High YPC (6.2)

Analysis: For a relatively diminutive 'back (standing at 5'10 and weighing 195 pounds) Buckram toted the ball for an average of 21 times per game which is slightly skewed because he didn't really hit his stride until about 5th game of the season.

He has 3 of his starting offensive lineman returning with an Oklahoma transfer possibly replacing one of the graduated tackles.

Some promising statistics are that Buckram rattled off 3 200+ yard games, 8 100+ yard games, and averaged 133 per game. It is those kind of numbers and production that lead one to rushing for 2,000 yards. Buckram has proven to handle the carries, can take any carry to the house due to his explosiveness, and keeps himself fresh by mixing in with the passing game.


Loses the entire left side of offensive line

Bad defense doesn’t allow him to run sometimes

Inconsistent at times

Analysis: While it can be viewed as a plus that Buckram returns 3/5 of his line, it is somewhat disheartening that the entire left side has graduated. Also UTEP's defense is so porous that if the Miners do not jump ahead on the scoreboard, they often find themselves passing heavily to get back in the game thus decreasing Buckram's carries. Lastly, while extremely effective when he is on, Buckram sometimes does not get the carries to perform as witnessed by three games in which he logged single digit carries. Now one could say that it was because they were being blown out in the cases of Kansas and Texas but a 'back must still get his carries if he is going to hit the 2,000 yard summit.

Overall Analysis:

If UTEP realizes the talent they have in Buckram by continuing to feed him the ball steadily, he could definitely reach 2,000 rushing yards. He plays in a defensively weak conference, has good players around him, is explosive enough to really get the most out of his carries, and Mike Price is not afraid to put the game on Donald's shoulders. All of this makes the case that Donald Buckram of the UTEP Miners could very well be college football's next 2,000 yard rusher.

Quest for 2000- Brynn Harvey

Brynn Harvey is a hard-charging running back from Largo, Florida who, a couple of years ago, had the daunting task of filling the big shoes of his predecessor. You see, he followed the great Kevin Smith of UCF. His freshman year he showed some flashes of being able to be the next 'back for the Golden Knights if not the next incarnation of Kevin Smith.

Last year, Harvey made strides going from 519 yards and 1 touchdown all the way to 1109 yards and 14 touchdowns. Quite a progression in one year and hopefully his third year will yield even more production! With that said, here is a breakdown of the pros and cons on Brynn Harvey becoming the next 2000 yard rusher in college football:


Averaged 22 carries per game not including the game against Texas when he was rested

Returns 4 Offensive Line starters

1 game of 200+ yards

1 game of 40+ carries

Returns former starting quarterback (R. Calabrese) and top receivers

100+ yard games- 5 20+ carry games- 6 Avg. Yards per game- 92

Good defense allows him to run deep into games

Returns starting fullback

Analysis: Harvey plays in a workhorse back system under George O'Leary. It is no surprise that the coach loves his 'backs to tote the ball and tote it a lot. Harvey received a fair amount of carries as witnessed by his 22 carry average. He returns a former starting quarterback in Rob Calabrese but more importantly some very talented receivers in Kamar Aiken and A.J. Guyton. He also returns 4 offensive line starters.

Other little things that could be helpful to Harvey reaching the coveted 2000 yard plateau are that his team plays pretty good defense in the offensive minded Conference USA. This means that he will continue to run the ball deep into games. Also UCF returns their top fullback which is pivotal in blasting open holes for Harvey to scoot through.


Low YPC- Getting carries but not doing much with them

Inflated stats against bad competition

Offensive Coordinator

Analysis: Harvey did indeed get his carries but for the most part did very little with them. His average YPC (Yard Per Carry) were a meager 4.2 yards. Also Harvey only produced against weak competition. Note that in the five games that Harvey surpassed 100 yards they were against Samford (111 yards), Memphis (219 yards), Houston (139 yards), Tulsa (129 yards), and UAB (130 yards). Statistically, those teams had some of the softest defenses in the country. Against respectable defensive teams such as Southern Miss, East Carolina, Miami, and Rutgers, Harvey ran for 37, 71, 25, and 32 yards, respectively. Even against Marshall, whose defense was terrible, he only gained 47 yards. Not to mention he didn't even play against Texas. Lastly, UCF just got a new offensive coordinator which could spell doom for Harvey's chances for 2000 yards. The OC is Charlie Taaffe who comes from the Canadian Football League's Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Aside from the fact that a Tiger-Cat is a made up animal, the CFL is known for its passing and not for workhorse running backs. However, much like the situation at UConn, bringing in a new OC did not really seem to affect Harvey's carries.

Overall Analysis:

If UCF sticks to its run-first game plan, Brynn Harvey could make a jump in production and will need to perform much more consistently to make it to 2000 yards. Harvey is a hard runner who has the build to take the carries. He is not overly elusive which hurts his yards per carry but he does wear down defenses. Harvey is still someone to consider on draft day although you may have to wait to see how he performs.