There has been a lot of talk about Rawleigh

not being explosive, not being a feature back, etc. Those posters are strangely silent these days.

I said it before the year and throughout that Rawleigh is a lot better than some our fans credit him for being.

As we sit here, today, I think he leads the SEC in rushing behind a patchwork offensive line with one game left against a bad defense.

I think Rawleigh’s story is one that has been undertold and undersold this season. To be a little over a year removed from a broken neck to a legit shot (with the bowl game) at 1400-1500 yards for a team that will win 7-9 in the toughest league and division in America is remarkable.

If you can’t love Rawleigh, that’s a YOU problem.

Last Wednesday, he talked at length about how he puts pressure on himself and was disappointed with some of his missed cuts against LSU. While he did miss a few, there wasn’t much space on many of the plays. I tried to express that in the story I wrote.

I thought it was revealing that he stepped up took responsibility. From being around the players, he’s one of the more thoughtful, conscientious guys on the team.

Glad his comeback has worked out so well for him. The pace he plays at and the way he sets up blocks keeps getting better. Collins and Williams spoiled a lot of people. I don’t think Rawleigh is quite on their level as far as pure talent, but he’s a really good running back. So is Whaley and obviously Hammonds is explosive. I expect Hammonds to catch some passes and fill that role that Korliss Marshall was supposed to a few years back before his career went off the tracks. Good group.

I thought last week was Rawleigh’s worst game. He missed some big holes and was just generally off.

Then, he followed it tonight with a phenomenal game against a defense that, although not great, came into the game with the 6th best rushing defense in the 14-team SEC.

And, while my post wasn’t aimed at you and I think you’re a very solid reporter and writer, your post sort of backs up my point.

You wrote a lot about RW in your film room and basically say that Rawleigh is a great story and great kid and that he’s solid, but not on the level of Collins and JWill.

You then mention young players that had promising performances and list Whaley and Hammonds. Rawleigh is a sophomore who has played maybe 5 more games than them. And, he put up 200 yards and 5 TDs and isn’t named as a young guy who had a promising performance.

But, if you strip away our preconceived ideas about Rawleigh and his talent and offers and recruiting stars, is there a better argument for him not being on their level or for being on their level?

If you look at it objectively, he appears to be on their level. He’s not as flashy as AC or JWill. The knock on him was that he couldn’t make chunk plays.

But if you run the numbers he has been more explosive than those 2. He certainly hasn’t had any problems housing runs against some name teams.

Last year, AC got a ton more carries and TD opportunities and if Rawleigh stays healthy he is going to end up with similar yards, a few less TDs and a much better yards per carry average with more explosive plays–behind a much worse offensive line.

And, he’s doing it as a Sophomore who only played half a season of football before this year.

He’s deceptively good. Rawleigh doesn’t wow us but maybe he should and maybe we should rethink the idea that he’s a lesser RB than AC and JWill.

If justice is served he will be one of the 1st-team All SEC running backs. That puts him in some very good company.

I totally agree and have totally agreed with everything here, except (you knew there had to be an except) the patchwork offensive line. I think we saw tonight that the line of the future is finally taking shape.
I hate that we are losing Skipper, the personification of CBB football, and I pray Ragnow returns, but I think the Dane, Gibson and Wallace are establishing themselves and will be 3/5s of the line for the next two years. I would like to see them stop the endless off season moving around of players and let these three stay in these spots instead of starting over once again this Winter. Then you find a left tackle and move ahead. Please stay Frank!!!
All that being said I do think they will need to find a place for Jake Heinrich because I think he is going to be a stud and the star of the line starting as early as perhaps 2018 and starting to play in 2017.

We actually don’t disagree on this, much. The OL wasn’t patchwork, tonight. It was dominant, tonight.

But on the year, it has been patchwork–a lot of new starters or old starters in new positions–with almost all of them struggling mightily at times this season.

Having said that, I think their patience may bear fruit. There are 2 guys on the line–Froholdt and Wallace–who haven’t figured it out, yet, but when they know who they’re blocking they just absolutely annihilate them. Ragnow is very good. You have to think one of the JUCOs will emerge next year.

So, the pieces are there for it to be much more of a CBB-type OL next year. But this year, it has been a patchwork group most of the year.

Admittedly, I’m talking about physical gifts/abilities and going off the eye test when I say that. I don’t think Rawleigh has J-Will’s ability to break tackles and make YAC or Collins’ quick feet/cutting ability. But obviously there’s more that goes into playing RB than physical tools (Emmitt Smith). But that’s just kind of been how I’ve viewed the three. The flash comment you made makes perfect sense and is how I’ve typically judged them.

Your post got me to thinking, so I went and looked it up.

Through 11 games (so including tonight) Rawleigh has 31 10+ runs, 13 20+, 7 30+, 5 40+, 3 50+, 1 60+, 1 70+.

He’s averaging a run of 10 or more yards every 6.7 carries, one of 20+ every 16, one of 30+ every 29.7 and one of 40+ every 41.6.

Alex in 2015: 10+ every 6.6 carries, 20+ every 16.9, 30+ every 67.8, 40+ every 90.3
Alex in 2014: 10+ every 7.6 carries, 20+ every 20.4, 30+ every 51, 40+ every 68.
Alex in 2013: 10+ every 5.9 carries, 20+ every 23.8, 30+ every 63.3, 40+ 1 time

J-Will in 2014: 10+ every 5.9 carries, 20+ every 26.4, 30+ every 52.8, 40+ every 70.3
J-Will in 2013: 10+ every 6.3 carries, 20+ every 21.4, 30+ every 37.5, 40+ every 37.5

So his 10+ is comparable or a bit lower but he produces runs of 20 or more at markedly better rates. That’s pretty interesting, especially given the OL issues. This thread may have spawned a story haha

Great stuff. Thanks for doing the leg work. It sort of backs up my thinking. Because of Alex’ quickness in tight spaces, he was viewed as electric but, he wasn’t any more explosive than RW3. In fact, he was more likely to be caught from behind than RW3.

Rawleigh just doesn’t look fast. He’s not gonna make many runs that wow you.

But when he’s right–and he’s mostly right–he’s going to hit the hole and get what’s there and sometimes (a lot) more.

And, it has been against some teams with guys that according to our eye tests he shouldn’t be running away from.

He ran away from Fla’s 4 and 5 stars for the clincher and had 146 yards on 26 carries for a 5.7 avg with the 41 yard long.

By way of comparison, the much more talented LSU duo- Guice and a dinged Fournette- between the 2 of them had 31 carries and 123 yards on Fla with a long of 20 yards.

Rawleigh torched the land sharks and their star-studded recruits for 180 with a 53-yard long.

TCU has been bad, overall, but their run defense has been good. RW3 had 137 on the road on them.

Heck, as silly as it sounds his 46 yards on 12 carries was pretty solid against Bama.

That seems silly until you realize their defense has been historically dominant and only a few RBs have (barely) had more on them in mostly mop up. Bama allows 2 yards per rush on the year.

So, what I’m saying and I think the #s back up is that while, like almost everyone Rw3 has had some down games, if we really take away some of our preconceived ideas and look at what has actually happened on the field, RW3s season is stacking up very favorably with other supposedly superior backs.

With 1 game left and Pettway having to face Bama, it’s likely Rawleigh will be the SEC rushing champ behind a subpar OL.

Factor in that he’s a sophomore and that he has at times had a bad OL and it’s hard to argue that Rawleigh isn’t an elite RB, already, and we are comparing him against AC and JWill as upperclassmen.

I loved RWIII when we got him. When you do what he did in Texas HS, any division, you are special and he is. AC made those quick cuts and got a lot of yards with them. Loved to see the ball in his hands. How could you not love JWill? The guy was special and you got all he had on every carry. RWIII is a little different, but the guy somehow gets it done. He may not be Dmac fast, but it sure seems he gets big gains and is hard to run down. DW is also a very, very good SEC type back. I love having them both. Hammonds is lighting in a bottle as he showed on his run yesterday, but again, I just knew they were going to knock the ball away and I noticed it was the first thing coach talked with him about. When he learns to potect the ball, he can give us some very big gains. He did not get back in the game probably because of that.

All in all, I see our running back situation to be very strong.

RW3 has a 103 yard lead on Pettway for the SEC rushing title. Considering Pettway will be running against the Bama defense – if he even plays (missed yesterday’s game) – I think that’s safe. Crockett is 147 yards behind RW3. I guess one of the other 1000 yard backs could catch RW3 if he does nothing and they have a monster game (like the two UK backs against Tennessee, which gave up 700+ to Misery yesterday).

A lot would have to happen, starting with Missouri playing a lot better defense. They gave up 60+ to Tennessee and are ranked dead last (14th) in the SEC in rushing defense at 239 rushing yards per game. By comparison, our porous defense is 10th.

Also, UK plays Louisville at Louisville. Petrino still has a pretty good defense because he inherited some players from Strong.

They are 2nd in the ACC in rush defense at 99 ypg. And, Lou figures to blow their doors off, which should lead to less rushing attempts.

As you point out, Pettway would have to come back from injury and outrush Rawleigh’s output against MO against a Bama defense that is allowing a silly 62 yards rushing per game.

Barring an injury it looks good for Rawleigh. And, even with one, he has a decent chance.

Again, I think it’s one of the best stories in CFB and it’s mostly flying under the radar.

You’re correct, Adam. Louisville has its defensive liabilities but they’re unlikely to give up a 250-yard game. Don’t know why I was thinking UK plays Tennessee, especially since they already played :oops:

This is an awesome thread. I love Rawleigh, and love his moxy. His ability to make yards after contact. That said, I was one who questioned his explosiveness earlier this year. But, he is seeing things better now, and his jump-cut ability has improved each week. I do think Whaley has better raw tools. But Whaley does not yet see things develop like Rawleigh does. Will he ever? Probably. But that’s not a certainty. Waiting for things to develop was and probably continues to be Dmac’s Achilles heel. (That and his health).

As for Rawleigh having more long runs than Alex and JWill, I think part of that is a product of our WR core…both in their blocking ability and the fact that defensive secondaries are worried about them at least as much and probably more than they are Rawleigh.

All that said I am thrilled at Rawleigh’s success. I remember the tears in my eyes watching him on the ground versus Auburn. What a great story.

[quote]Through 11 games (so including tonight) Rawleigh has 31 10+ runs, 13 20+, 7 30+, 5 40+, 3 50+, 1 60+, 1 70+.


Your numbers confused me at first. I was thinking that RW had only had two runs of 10-19 yards, which didn’t make sense.

So as to relieve my own confusion, here’s how they break down:
10-19 yards – 18 runs
20-29 – 6
30-39 – 2
40-49 – 2
50-59 – 1
60-69 – 1
70+ – 1

Amen to that. I think too many people put a premium on top end speed. RW can get to top speed very quickly but he won’t break any stop watches with his 40 time. He sure sees that opening and gets through it though. If he stays four years, he may well leave as our all time leading rusher.

RW3 has 1463 career yards with two games left this year. If he maintains current season average of 110 ypg, that would put him around 1680 after this year.

DMac finished his UA career with 4590 yards. So RW3 would need 2910 to tie him with that projection. Remember that we have Whaley and Hammonds on the roster to divide up the carries, plus Hayden and any future recruits. And also remember that if he has a big 2017 season, he is more likely to enter the draft afterward.

But even if he stays the full four, he would need to average nearly 1500 yards a year to get there.

Your numbers confused me at first. I was thinking that RW had only had two runs of 10-19 yards, which didn’t make sense.

So as to relieve my own confusion, here’s how they break down:
10-19 yards – 18 runs
20-29 – 6
30-39 – 2
40-49 – 2
50-59 – 1
60-69 – 1
70+ – 1

Where are you getting those numbers from?

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Where are you getting those numbers from?

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I’m doing the math. Runs of 10+ include all runs of 10+, whether 11 yards or 71 yards.

So if there are 31 of 10+, and 13 of 20+, that means 18 of 10-19. Continue the process from there…

I do see one error I made. The only run of more than 60 yards RW2 has made was the 71-yarder last night. So it should be 60-69 – 0, but 50-59 would be 2.

If he had 31 runs of 10-19, 13 of 20-29, etc., he would have a heckuva lot more than 1209 yards for the season.

This is a great thread. One thing I would add is that RWIII has never had 12 consecutive months of being a healthy Razorback running back. Just think what he will be next year, when he will be able to take advantage of Herb’s complete off-season training regimen as well as going through all of spring ball.

Just think how good he and Whaley will be next year. Whaley will get his first 12 months as a healthy Razorback running back also. If they both stay healthy, I believe they have a great chance of being more productive than JWill and AC were as a Jr. and a Soph. They could be the best tandem since DMac and Felix.

Good read. Now we’re on the second page. Few will read this BUT

I think Clay had a thread awhile back asking who had the MOST Surprised Player of the year. (something like that)

I could be wrong but nobody or very few went with RW.
AA had most of that thread.

I didn’t I went with RW. Why? Because when anyone, Clay, a TV announcer you name it AND I still see as it as if it was yesterday RW on the ground. Amazing story IMO…

Oh, I see what you did. I was just saying 31 of his runs had gone for 10 or more. But what you did was an interesting breakdown.