Thursday, February 10, 2011

Looking Ahead: Running Backs

Whereas the Horned Frogs are saying goodbye to a four-year starter and TCU legend at quarterback this year, they will have just about everyone back at running back in 2011. Ed Wesley will return for his junior season after rushing for 1,078 yards and 11 TDs this past fall, as will fellow junior-to-be Matthew Tucker (709 and 7), sophomore Waymon James (513 and 5) and junior Aundre Dean (223 and 1). So with all of the key ball carriers returning next year, we can expect a similiar breakdown of touches and yards, right?

Well, maybe.

The term I've used over and over again describing TCU depth at running back is "embarrassment of riches". Not only do they have the four guys mentioned above, who could all be stand-alone stars at just about any program- they also have two ridiculously talented redshirt freshmen who'll be pushing for playing time, too. We certainly don't want to sound like the Skiff in prematurely moving unproven freshmen past experienced vetereans, but at the same time it's hard to ignore the impressive pedigrees of Ethan Grant and Dwight "The Myth" Smith. Both are talented enough to have played as true freshmen in 2010, but Smith was obviously still coming off an injury and of course there was so much talent in front of them that burning a redshirt kind of seemed silly.

Luke Shivers, the Frogs' starting fullback, will surprisingly be a senior in 2011. Doesn't it seem like he just got here? He's been pretty reliable as a blocking back as well as the occasional option catching swing passes and carrying the ball in goal line situations, such as the winning touchdown against Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. Behind Shivers on the depth chart is...nobody. Tight end Logan Brock has played a little fullback in relief of Shivers, but with him poised to take over starting duties at his natural position it seems as though the coaching staff may want to find someone else to back up Shivers.

So how do you see the running back position developing in spring practice, this fall and beyond? How will the carries be divided amongst all of the talented backs? Will Wesley maintain his status as the #1 guy or will someone else challenge him for that spot? How will the redshirt freshmen figure into the mix? Will any of them change positions? Who will back up Shivers at fullback? I know you have an opinion, so let's hear it!


LT4heisman said...

I wish we could just load "Cannonball" James into a giant, three person water ballon slingshot.

shortnkerley's said...

Maybe not the best time to bring this team up, but I think we should get something working like Wisconsin does. 3 backs and a lot of running, and let them split carries and ride the hot hand.

I see it being Wesley (when healthy), James, and D Smith (if he can stay healthy). Matthew Tucker really regressed last year in my opinion, and I honestly don't know what to do with Ethan Grant. I'd like to see him get the ball, but I just don't know how. What a great thing to be concerned with though- how can we play all these talented backs? It's nice that we have a stable of backs to rely on with an inexperienced QB. Hopefully it makes the transition a little easier.

Hopefully we don't lose any of these guys to transfers, but who could blame them if they do?

Lyle Lanley said...

I don't know a whole lot about Ethan Grant's game, but at 5'11" 175 he's definitely got the build to play some slot WR if needed.

And Dwight Smith is apparently up to 235lbs...makes you wonder if, with an inexperienced QB, maybe the Frogs line up in more formations that require a FB?

Worth Hills Caddy said...

I hate to say it, but I don't think Dwight Smith is ever going to see the field for this team.

Not only is he buried on the depth chart, he has had injury issues, and off the field issues.

Hopefully, I am wrong, and GP and the staff can get his head right.

Ditka in your Butkus said...

James is going to be the man, write it down.

Michael said...

I know this may come of a bit harsh, but I feel with the quality we have in the backfield, every time Matthew Tucker gets the ball it is a waste of a potential great play by one of our other extremely talented backs. I cannot tell you how many times I cringed watching him tip-toe up to the line and fall down this year. I believe Ed is by far our best talent but would love to see Waymon get more carries. Dean also needs to find his way on the field, perhaps in a short distance capacity. I am not sure what the redshirts can do but we will find out.

Greg said...

I heard rumors that Ethan was going to take over for Kerley. I personally think Waymon is the most talented of them all.