This week we’ve taken a look at a few players who we expect to have a big impact on the team this fall, and we conclude the week by looking at B-Back KirVonte Benson, who was named second team All-ACC in 2017. Benson ran for 1053 yards and 6 touchdowns on 204 carries, an average of 5.2 yards per carry.
In 2017, Benson came out of nowhere. When Dedrick Mills was dismissed from the team just 17 days before the first game, it seemed that Tech was severely lacking depth and experience at the B-Back position. Only Quade Weimerskirch had ever carried the ball in a game, and he had been used only sparingly. Benson had never carried the ball in a college game. With that in mind, I think it is fair to say that the Marietta, GA native’s sophomore season exceeded all of our expectations. In becoming the third B-Back to rush for 1,000 yards under Paul Johnson, and first since Anthony Allen in 2010, Benson established himself as a force in the Jackets’ backfield.
Even coming off a 1,000 yard year, Benson can be better. He had games where he seemingly disappeared (Jacksonville State and uga come to mind) and then games where it appeared nobody could tackle him. He must find some level of consistency week in and week out in order for Tech to be successful this season.
Looking ahead to his junior season this fall, a big year is expected. Benson figures to be the bell cow at B-Back for Tech, but with more support this year than last. The development of sophomore Jerry Howard will likely take carries away from Benson, but that isn’t necessarily a negative. After rushing for 100+ yards in five of Tech’s first seven games in 2017, Benson failed to reach triple digits in any of Tech’s final four games. In those four games, Benson averaged just 3.8 yards per carry, while he averaged 5.9 yards per carry over his first seven. This is likely a result of wear and tear from the massive workload that Benson took on, and I believe that he can be more productive this year if given 150-175 carries instead of another season of over 200.
Another factor that figures to lighten Benson’s workload is better play from the offensive tackle position. If some pairing of Andrew Marshall, Jahaziel Lee, Bailey Ivemeyer, and Ole Miss transfer Jack DeFoor can produce consistently at tackle, it will open up the outside run game for QB TaQuon Marshall and the A-Backs, and open up the passing game. In turn, Benson should find more running room inside behind the interior line.
Despite what will hopefully be a lighter workload, Benson will be called upon to have a weekly impact this fall, and he must have success for the team to win games.