The second of my 5 Things to Watch For from the game last week was ‘Who Gets the Carries at RB.’ The running back play was one of the bright spots of the game as the Jayhawks put together a 301 yard rushing effort on 55 attempts for a solid 5.5 yards per carry. This is exactly what Turner Gill wants from his offense. They were also able to get some big plays in the run game, including a 47 yard scamper by Tony Pierson, all which led to KU not dominating the time of possession as you would think with 301 yards on the ground.
Now, the running game as a whole was something we were all watching, but the biggest part about the running game was seeing who got the most carries. Was it going to be last year’s rushing leader James Sims or possibly newcomers Darian Miller or Tony Pierson? Well here’s how the breakdown of the rushing attempts went for the running backs:
James Sims – 19 carries, 104 yards, 5.5 ypc, 1 TD
Darian Miller – 13 carries, 63 yards, 4.8 ypc
Tony Pierson – 5 carries, 73 yards, 14.6 ypc, 1 TD
B. Bourbon – 3 carries, 19 yards, 6.3 ypc
From this we can see the obvious and it is what we expected, James Sims led the way in both carries and yards. However, the distribution between his and Darian Miller’s carries wasn’t as big as you would think. I was expecting more of a 20 to 10 ratio for those carries and it was a little bit closer than that. Also interesting to note was Pierson’s 5 carries that went for a great 73 yards. Even if you take away the 47 yard romp he still had, a 6.5 ypc. Pierson looked very sharp, he is a little small, but he hits the hole well, is decisive, and he is extremely fast.
Overall, all running backs looked very good. I think the best thing to come out of this is that all the running backs have something to offer this offense. If Gill can get a better running QB in there and the spread option attack starts to really get rolling, having the 3-headed monster of Sims-Miller-Pierson, being able to cycle in and out and stay fresh, could turn this into a truly dynamic offense.