After having three straight seasons of 1,300+ yards out of the feature B-back, the departures of Jon Dwyer and Anthony Allen to the NFL left an open competition to be the successor in 2011. That competition, as we know, was won by former QB David Sims, who catapulted from last to first on the depth chart over the course of Fall practice last year. Unfortunately, the results didn't measure up to previous years. For the first time ever in CPJ's tenure, a B-back did not lead the team in rushing. The state of B-backs continues after the jump...
Sims finished with 697 yards, and a 5.2 YPC...both well below the standards set by his predecessors. In fact, the entire B-back group managed only 1,163 yards TOTAL on that same 5.2 YPC. Plus, it appeared that B-backs lacked the explosive plays that had been a trademark of previous years. B-back carries fell from 265 in 2010 to 223 in 2011, and were far more distributed because of injury to Sims and a more rotational approach that saw Preston Lyons and Charles Perkins get more carries.
But what caused this reduction in B-back carries? Well, the short answer is, those fewer B-back carries went to the QB and the A-backs. As we know, The first 4 games (WCU, MTSU, Kansas, UNC) of 2011 saw repeated offensive explosions, albeit against weaker competition, that saw our opponents try to take away the middle. As a result, our A-backs feasted on pitches and jet sweeps on the perimeter. The next 4 games (NCSU, Maryland, Miami, UVA) saw defenses not only take away the B-back, but limit the A-back's opportunities as well. It was in this group of games that Tevin seemed to run the ball a disproportionate amount of times (almost 24 carries PER GAME). On average, the QB gives up about 1.0 - 1.5 YPC versus a B-back, so that's certainly not the direction the offense should go.
You might have heard CPJ make mention of the opposing defenses giving us more "cloudy" reads or "slow-playing" the QB. Basically, what that means is that both keys that a QB might read on a TO play (the dive read on the inside, and the pitch read on the outside) do not immediately commit, causing our QBs to hesitate or keep the ball. In essence, teams made the decision to make the QB beat them on running plays. In past seasons, we ran a fair amount of Midline or Speed option plays which tweaked the blocking schemes, brought another blocker into the middle, and gave the defense another look. We will see how much of the playbook CPJ opens up for B-backs to get them involved and productive.
David Sims, a junior, will most likely be the feature B-back again. While 2011's YPC of 5.2 is not terrible, he did not show the breakout ability his predecessors were known for. He did protect the ball...which has always been the obstacle for his likely backup, sophomore Charles Perkins, who recorded 3 fumbles lost in his 28 carries in 2011. Perkins, from Collins Hill HS (for Nate!), has the quickness and athleticism to excel in the TO at B-back. He has shown glimpses in Spring, and his success will hinge on his ability to hold onto the rock. Sophmore Zach Laskey, after a year's sabbatical on defense, figures into the B-back rotation as well. In the Spring, Laskey showed his ability to break tackles and get tough yards up the middle. Finally, we will likely have a very talented true freshman, Marcus Allen (what a name for a RB!), rounding out the rotation and most likely vying for carries.
So, what do you think about the B-backs?