Penn State Football Preview Part 1–Running Backs
With Arts Fest in full swing it is getting closer and closer to the time Happy Valley turns into one of the most exciting places for College Football. Although the squad has lost many of the faces we’ve loved over the past 4 years, there are plenty of players left to help defend the Big Ten title. I’ve decided instead of doing one huge preview of the team, we’re going to break it down into 6 parts: Running backs, Quarterbacks, Offensive Line,Wideouts, Defensive Line, Linebackers/Secondary. After all of that we’ll take a look at the entire Big Ten and how that should shape out over the course of the season.
With a lot of the Off-season attention going to the loss of three of Penn State’s best wideouts in school history, how well Evan Royster and Stephfon Green played last season has been overlooked by many people. Although they weren’t the featured aspect of the HD Offense that made every snap exciting, they have the ability and skill to be the best running back tandem in the country. There are some interesting stats to look at when it comes to comparing these two backs to some of the better known running backs in the nation in order to better “defend” this claim. First things first though–stats
“Team Pct” is the player’s stat as a percentage of the team total.
|Stat||Value||Team Pct||Nat’l Rank||Conf Rank|
|Rushing 100 Plus||5||83.3||27||5|
Javon Ringer accounted for 96.7% of MSU’s rushing yards last season, its safe to say he had a few carries. 390 carries/1,637 yards, 22 touchdowns
Now what makes Ringers stats so interesting is the number of carries, 390 carries is a whole lot of touches of the ball. For those of you who are quick at math, you’ll have figured out that its 4.2 YPC. Or if you’re like me you just looked it up on espn.com. Either way, why we care about Ringers number of carries is simple. Evan Royster carried the ball 191 times almost 200 times less than Ringer. On top of that Royster’s YPG was more than 2 yards better than Ringer’s (4.2 vs. 6.5), and he was only about 400 yards shy of Ringers total (1,637 vs. 1,236.) If Royster had carried the ball as many times as Ringer he would have rushed for 2535 yards. Now somebody out there is going to say that Royster had 3 big wideouts catching the ball, so he carried it when the defense wasn’t expecting it, or that Penn State’s offensive line was just that much better than everybody else’s so it was easy to run that well. Although both points are true, there is once again an interesting stat in regards to our friends in East Lansing.
MSU had three great wideouts last year. In fact Blair White (659), B.J Cunningham(528), and Mark Dell(679) caught 1866 yards passing, less than 100 yards from Williams and Co who totaled 1932 yards last year. The point being, our wideouts weren’t the reason that Royster and Green ran well, they were just that good.
As far as the Offensive line, it’s true that Penn State’s line dominated most teams, but Javon Ringer didn’t run for 22 touchdowns by himself, he had some help too.
It boils down to this: Evan Royster is a heisman quality running back if he gets enough carries, although he doesn’t have game-breaking speed, his moves and vision-back from his Lacrosse playing days-are some of best out there. Stephfon Green is fast as lightning and is a great second punch to a defense. If Joe uses these two running backs the right way, and the Penn State wideouts might not even need to catch balls.
“Evan is a truly great running back,” said Penn State coach Joe Paterno. “I mean, he is really something special. I personally think he’s going to be the best Penn State running back to come out of here since Blair Thomas. That’s right, better than Curtis Enis and Ki-Jana Carter. Yeah, I said it.”
These two videos are great examples of the playmaking ability of these players. The first is Stephon Green showing off his speed, although it is a catch not a rush, he till shows off his speed….who says the SEC is the only fast conference?
This second video is a great way to see how good Royster’s vision and moves really are. His ability to keep his legs moving is key to how well he plays.
And someone else out there will want to see them run against a team other than UM. So here you go, actually this video is a great example of how many players are coming back this season. **Some plays do involve the “Fab 3” but 95% of them do not**