OSU Preview Running Backs

Thursday, May 26th 2011, 1:25 pm
By: News On 6

Originally Published: Aug 21, 2010 6:2 PM CDT

As part of the buildup to the season, I am previewing a different position for the Cowboys every day or so on my blog.

Does the Cowboys change to a more pass-oriented offense mean the beginning of the end for Tailback-U?
OSU has led the Big 12 in rushing each of the last four seasons and has had three straight all-Big 12 running backs.
You might think the offensive switch is bad news for running backs.  But new offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen has said numerous times, "we actually run the ball."
And upon further review hes right.  Under Holgorsens guidance at the University of Houston, running back Bryce Beall was Conference USA Freshman of the Year in 2008.  He ran for over 1,200 yards.
And last season the Cougars Charles Sims was voted Conference USA Freshman of the year after running for 698 yards and rolling up 759 yards receiving.
The fact of the matter is that just because the Cowboys dont hand the ball off to them doesnt mean the running backs wont touch the pigsking.  Many of their touches will come on passes out of the backfield.
Holgorsens offense doesnt necessarily emphasize the pass, it emphasizes being explosive, up-tempo and unpredictable.
Lets put it this way.  When you have a special back like Kendall Hunter, who was an All American in 2008 before suffering through a season-long foot injury in 2009, youre going to get him the ball.
He could roll up 18-hundred yards of total offense if he stays healthy.
And behind Hunter, the cupboard is far from bare.  In fact running back is probably the deepest position on the Cowboy club.
Jeremy Smith ran for 160 yards against Grambling State last year, but suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in practice the following week.  Hes back to 100 percent.
Travis Miller had a good spring and is one of the fastest guys on the roster. 
Wichita, Kansas true freshman Joseph Randle has created one of the biggest buzzes this preseason.  He will be hard to keep off the field.
Mike Gundy and Holgorsen know how valuable Hunter is, but they also know thats only the case when hes healthy.  They have the depth at running back to keep Hunter fresh and healthy while not losing that much when they send in a replacement.
And dont forget that fullbacks Bryant Ward and David Paulsen will also factor into short yardage situations and get a few touches out of the backfield.  Their position has been essentially eliminated and their roles redefined.
It may not look like the days of Thomas and Sanders, but the OSU running backs will play a huge role in the Cowboys new offense.
Up next:  Offensive Line