About our running backs this year

As usual, when I posted my feelings about our RB last year, many disagreed and toted the party line. I wasn’t nasty, didn’t insult anyone - just expressed my thoughts about the position. Never mind that what I posted was essentially borne out to be true as the season went along. That’s the way it always is - people are quick to criticize any opinion (and, stated as such . . . not “a FACT” as so many do) - well thought out or otherwise - that doesn’t line up with “conventional wisdom”. However, curiously (not), those same folks are nowhere to be seen when it comes to backtracking and admitting that it was THEY who were wrong, once the facts are in.

I’m talking about this thread (see link below). To summarize, I said I had misgivings that Devwah was going to be the “next” in the line of “great” running backs in the tradition of DMac/Felix/Knile Davis/Alex Collins/Jonathan Williams/Rawleigh Williams. I went on to say that I wasn’t “down” on him, just didn’t see him being a standout like those others who worked their way into our record book. I also said I DID expect him to be a solid back, who made a positive contribution during his time here, as part of a running back rotation. You can look for yourself to see the responses I got. However, by the midway point of the season there were many threads - here and other places - much more CRITICAL of DW than my post ever was. As I said - par for the course for anyone who dares to have an original thought and simply expresses it. I’ve grown used to it.

viewtopic.php?f=4&t=9539&p=63337&hilit=devwah#p63337

Well, I’m going to say that this season, I think that our running game will be somewhat improved - it will go as far as our OL and defense (we won’t run as much if we’re far behind because our defense can’t keep the opposition from scoring) will allow it to go. But any failure we have in the run game will not be because of talent at RB. Again - i do think Devwah will be an important part of the rotation, but I would be surprised if he or anyone passed 1,000 yards.

One guy who’s not getting a lot of attention that I think will end up being an important back for us is Maleek Williams. I posted last year that I thought he might eclipse Devwah during their respective careers, but we didn’t see Maleek on the field with David Williams coming in late and being a senior. He ended up taking snaps that I thought MW might get. The benefit of that is that MW red-shirted and has four more years to play for us.

Now, I’m not predicting an All-Star season for Maleek, nor am I saying he’s going to be our lead guy. But I do think he will be more involved in our RB rotation by the year’s end than most are thinking at this point in July. Right now, he’s an afterthought; the last guy anyone mentions (if he gets mentioned at all) when our running game is talked about.

He’s just a good, all around RB who isn’t our best at any one phase, but is good or better at just about ALL phases of the RB game. I can see him getting snaps during our short-yardage situations and sometimes surprising by catching passes out of the backfield as well. There’s value in having a guy like that in the game, once he’s learned and contributed on all levels, because his presence doesn’t tip your hand to the opposition as to what kind of play you might be calling.

Another one that I like is Chase Hayden. He should contribute this year too.

I am interested in how Whaley does now that he’s shed a bit of weight. Hopefully Chase will be ready to go because he showed a lot of ability to make big things happen in limited duty with a poor OL.

It seems like they are moving towards having a couple of thunder and a couple of lightning guys. One intriguing thing they did at times in the spring was let the big fullback have some carries in the single back set, and M. Williams can do that big back thing, too. Whaley is probably the guy who is the closest to an all-around back who can break a big play and still take a lot of pounding inside.

The biggest thing is to have enough backs to keep fresh guys in the rotation and to show different running styles. I think we’ve got that, so I am think these backs can be a very productive group. How productive will depend on the OLs ability to execute the new scheme and the passing game being good enough to keep the defenses honest.

Key point is that the run game will go just as far as the OLine allows.

I always am a bit skeptical when backs gain weight and think they will be better. Almost every time they get more injuries and do less with more weight. There are exceptions.

John McDonnell, the expert on speed, always shook his head in a defiant “no” when I’d ask if he wanted heavier athletes or lighter athletes. He said lighter is better in all sports. When he saw basketball players bulk up, he said they would not fare well. When he saw cornerbacks, wide receivers and running backs gain weight, he said they would not do better, but poorer. He cited Batman Carroll and Lawrence Richardson as examples. He said they were better when they were lighter. They made more plays when they were lighter. He said the same thing when Cedric Cobbs gained weight. Get him off the lifts, he said. Well, that’s an opinion that I respect.

I believe that Chad Morris believes lighter is better as far as the skill positions. You do not want anything that takes away from speed. So I applaud the move by the running backs to drop a few pounds. Same thing in the secondary.

I’m sure you would admit that there are exceptions to this rule. The first I think about is Benintendi. I also really think Daniel Gafford would benefit from another 15-20 pounds of muscle.

There seems to be a difference between natural maturity and the “packing on” of muscle.

I think Maleek Williams has a chance to be another David Williams before his time at Arkansas is over.

Maleek Williams will hurt yo feelings!!tough runner!

We have too many good RB’s and really NO proven QB. In my opinion, we could see a lot of wildcat-like packages. Can you imagine Hayden or TJ Hammonds at Wildcat? I think Hayden took a few snaps last year. Hayden, Whaley and Boyd or Hammonds in the same backfield…wow.

I’m not sure baseball is a good comparison, at least as far as hitting is concerned. Benny’s increased weight & strength seemed to help him in the batter’s box. (And as Marty points out, his seemed to be more a result of natural growth than special emphasis on gaining weight.) But one can add strength without necessarily gaining much weight.

Quote from Chad Morris after Sat Aug 4th practice:
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“Maleek Williams is a guy no one is talking about”, Morris said. “He knows one speed and it’s wide open.”[/color]

The Coaches’ comments about Boyd’s performance in practice so far are also encouraging - that kid looked very good on Last Chance U

I did agree with Wiz about Whaley in that thread because adding 12/15 pounds on a running back never seems to work out and it didn’t. CBB loved big and bigger and I think it had a lot to do with our second half meltdowns. Finally, I was on the winning side of a debate.

I believe we have a phenomenal group of RBs. Exciting games coming with this group.
IF our OL is even decent, we will be a shock to a lot of teams.

I disagree with it last year, because I didn’t realize the impact the added weight was going to have on Devwah. He was still good but he lacked the explosiveness he showed as a freshman. I disagree with wizard again this year, the weight loss is going to show the freshman explosiveness return along with 2 years of experience, barring injury I believe Devwah goes over a 1000 and it will be the final year we see him play in a Hog uniform.