Photo courtesy of www.crimsonquarry.com
In today’s day and age, a team rarely has just one ball carrier on their team. The wear and tear of 60 minutes of football is just too much for one to handle over the course of the season.
After the Indiana Hoosiers 24-17 win over Indiana State, it’s clear that they’ll be going by that same approach.
Four different players had at least seven carries on the night. Sophomore D’Angelo Roberts got the bulk of them, running for 67 yards on 22 attempts. The two others who helped carry the load were Stephen Houston and Tevin Coleman. Quarterback Tre Roberson also carried it seven times, including a one-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
All three played a big role in the victory, combing for 39 carries, 148 yards, and a touchdown. The three-headed monster allowed Indiana to mix and match over the course of the night, depending on the package they were employing.
“We have a good, balanced backfield,” Roberts said. “ We have a lot of speed with Tevin, and then a lot of balance with me and Stephen.”
The freshman, Coleman showed a quick burst on his carries, giving us a glimpse as to why so many teams were interested in him during the recruiting process.
Last years leading rusher, Stephen Houston, was the only running back who got into the end zone, getting the majority of his yards on the 15-yard scamper.
Getting Roberson involved in the run game is also something to look for as the season progresses. Head coach Kevin Wilson discussed that they didn’t want Roberson running as much, as they attempt to get him more comfortable in the pocket.
While the three may not have been the best backs on the field on this night, it was clear that the coaching staff will never have to worry about their backs being winded, and needing a rest on the sidelines.
Each back carried out their role tonight, and didn’t let running in and out get in their head, nor do they plan on it.
“We all do what we got to do,” Roberts noted. “We run the ball.”
The unselfish attitude will pay dividends as the team continues to trust and master the system their in.
A lot will be discussed week to week on who receives the most carries, but coach Wilson pointed out that he felt all three could have played better. There’s also a missing link to this committee, as Isiah Roundtree is still recovering from a concussion he suffered during summer practices.
Performing well on the scout team and impressing during last year’s spring game, Roundtree, the transfer from Morehead State, looks to factor in the coaches decision when handing out carries in the weeks to come.
More reason to buy into this philosophy was actually demonstrated by Indiana State’s star running back, Shakir Bell. After tearing the Hoosier defense up with 145 yards in the first half, Bell finished with only, and I use only lightly, 192 yards.
That’s only 47 yards in the second half, proving that it’s difficult for one guy to carry the workload consistently for 60 minutes.
“When you got one guy, you wear him down,” coach Wilson said, commenting on how Bell had to come out a couple times in the third quarter to regroup.
Knowing he may not have the most talented running backs doesn’t make coach Wilson lose any sleep. In order for this team to be successful, he knows that he needs the three to continue to develop and pick up their production each week.
Also, from a game planning aspect, Wilson likes the multiple running back approach; it keeps the defense off balance, as they always have to account for how each running back goes about his business.
There’s a little bit more depth on the offensive side of the ball this year, and the Hoosiers are going to do their best to take full advantage of that. Spreading the ball around the field allows the team to create a more balanced game plan, and that’s exactly what the coaching staff wants.
“I think you’ll see several wide receivers playing, several running backs playing,“ Wilson said concerning his depth. “I’d like to see them all play better, and I think the more we play the more they will.”
With the confidence from the coaching staff, each running back knows that they’re going to have every opportunity to show what they have to offer. It will be up to the individual to continue to show steady progression.
As long as that progression continues, look for the Hoosiers to continue employing, at minimum, two to three backs.
Week 1 is in the books. Although the Hoosiers enjoyed a 24-17 victory, it’s clear that more is expected from this offense. We’ll just have to wait and see how much.