Vincent Smith could tell you a few things about running back. And as soon as he stops weeping tears of a Clowney and rocking himself in the corner, I am sure he’ll be happy to. In the meantime, you’ve got Bayou Irish in all of my flu-addled glory. Great way to start a new year, folks, I gotta tell ya. Coughing up phlegm into a Kleenex before passing out in a Nyquil induced-haze at 7:00 p.m. ROCKS! But seriously, let’s talk some football, y’all. Six days out from the National Championship Game, let’s push the growing meme, ”Know Thyself, Know Thy Enemy,” a little further. Let’s talk running back.
Before we go further, check out Biscuit’s preseason take on the position
In 2012, in getting to 12-0, Coach Kelly rolled out a multi-faceted offense that featured Theo Riddick, Cierre Wood, George Atkinson, III and Cam McDaniel at RB. The workhorses in that stable, though, were the seniors, Theo and Cierre. Theo ran for 880 yards and 5 TD’s while Cierre put up 740 and 4. Theo, another Jersey phenom, found success in the backfield after playing receiver, fly half and striker. Cierre is leaning towards a move to the NFL after this year, and with a 14 month old daughter to support, who can blame him. The two each had signature games, BYU for Theo and Oklahoma for Cierre, whose stunning sixty yard run announced that the Irish had come to Norman not just to play, but to win. If the Irish are going to do the same to ‘Bama, both will need to turn in huge games.
And it’s going to be tough. Alabama comes into Miami with the best rush defense in the country, giving up just under 80 yards per game. ND has the nation’s fourth-best rush defense, so this game has all the potential of being a “slobber-knocker.” And, just as an FYI, Stanford and BYU have the other “top four” rush defenses, so it’s not like The Irish haven’t tangled with the top before.
The Enemy:If ND if going to win the crystal football, they’re going to have to handle the two thousand-yarders in ‘Bama’s backfield: T.J. Yeldon and Eddie Lacey. As you can see in the video below, that’s going to be very, very hard:
The scary thing is that Yeldon’s a freshman, and while that may put his chances of graduating from Alabama at between slim and none, he’s just going to get better. Having put up 1,000 yards this year, that’s very bad for defenses around the country. His junior stable-mate, Eddie Lacey, broke off 1,182.
This is not to say The Irish haven’t faced and defeated better backs: Le’Veon Bell, Stepfan Taylor, Denard Robinson and Ray Graham come to mind. But it’s rare to have two in the same game, much less on the field at the same time. Looks like Manti and the Boys will have their work cut out for them on the 7th.
Putting football aside, I want to wish all of you and yours the best in 2013. Obviously, I want that to start with a National Championship, but in every way, I hope that the New Year is one of health, tranquility and prosperity in all its forms for you.