Thursday, September 13, 2012

Tailback who?

Ok, so Todd Gurley is the starter at tailback against FAU. Through the first two games the freshman leads the team in rushing yards, yards per carry* and touchdowns. He added one bonus in each game as well: a 100 yard kickoff return for touchdown against Buffalo and then 40+ yard scamper to flip the field position late against Missouri. So you can definitely say he's earned the start.

But what exactly has he earned? Gurley takes over the top of the rotation from Ken Malcome, a guy that carried the football six times against Buffalo and seven times against the Tigers. Meanwhile fellow freshman Keith Marshall leads the team in rushing attempts, presumably from near the bottom of the depth chart. 

Nowadays there's no guarantee that any starter is going to get even 60% of the carries. Mark Ingram got 45% of the rushing attempts for Alabama during his Heisman season. Back in Knowshon's heyday he averaged around 53% of the workload. During our 2002 run towards Atlanta Musa Smith shared the rushing attempts with Tony Milton, DJ Shockley and to a lesser extent Tyson Browning. As a result Smith ended with 48% of the carries.

All of that to say, I'm a little torn. I tend to shun the idea of a tailback by committee. I've always wanted that one tailback heads and shoulders above a couple more competing to get the scraps. This three-headed-threat of Gurley-Malcome-Marshall is different though. No one has a ton of experience and they all appear to have their own set of skills to bring to Bobo's playchart. Boo really moved moves a pile when it counts. Gurley ain't going down with just a shoulder bump. And Marshall's shiftiness is just waiting to breakaway. I get the sense that the coaching staff is getting a feel for who to use when and where. During arguably our best drive the other night, our top rusher waited on the sideline. 

And you know the best part of that last sentence...he didn't tap his helmet to get there.

*taking away LeMay's 12 ypc in garbage time against Buffalo