Keep on running
Fan of the running game? Get used to it: Texas returns some big-time production at the running back spot.
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Who says that running the ball in college football is dead?
OK, so maybe it’s not the first choice of most college football teams like it once was. Passing has taken over the football world, as teams are doing it more and more. In fact, only 41.8% of the yards accumulated by all teams in 2012 came on the ground. So, perhaps it’s dying, but not quite dead.
It’s part of the reinvention of football, becoming much more of a vertical game than a horizontal one. But teams still run the ball in Texas.
Overall, the 12 FBS teams in Texas racked up 25,888 yards on the ground in 2012, meaning that teams averaged 2,157 yards over the course of the season.
Put another way, the 12 FBS teams in Texas averaged 171.4 rushing yards per game. That average would rank 54th in the nation, in the 43rd percentile. Not too shabby for a state that harbors pass-happy teams like Baylor, Texas Tech and Houston.
And judging by what the teams across Texas are bringing back, well, expect 2013 to be an even bigger year on the ground in the Lone Star State.
Why? Because the vast, vast majority of those rushing yards were earned by underclassmen, meaning we’ll be seeing them next season.
I was interested in seeing what type of returning rushing leaders the state of Texas would feature in 2013, and what ended up becoming apparent was something very interesting: the youth movement in Texas did most of the heavy lifting in the rushing game in 2013.
How much? Take a look for yourself.
|2012 Rush Yards||Rush Yards By Seniors||% Lost|
Overall, just 25.5% of the rushing yards across Texas in 2012 came from players who are graduating. That means that almost 3/4ths of the rushing production from this past season is coming back in 2013. That’s pretty astonishing.
Some other notes from the data above:
-Poor SMU. With star running back Zach Line (perpetually underrated, in my humble opinion) graduating, the Ponies are basically losing their entire rushing attack. Line ran for 1,278 yards, the most among FBS running backs in Texas. The Mustangs’ next-best rusher? QB Garrett Gilbert, with 346 yards. Line will be missed.
-Even though they’re losing a lot of their rushing production – 64.8% -- I don’t think Texas State is going to be affected as much as teams like SMU. Sure, you never want to lose a guy like Marcus Curry, but remember that 597 of those yards came from QB Shaun Rutherford. Beyond that, I think Tim Gay and Terrance Franks are more than capable of filling the void.
-I’m sort of surprised that TCU is losing so much of its rushing attack, considering how many injuries the Frogs suffered. But Matthew Tucker does graduate, and he was one of the Frogs’ top rushing options.
-Don’t worry about Baylor. Lache Seastrunk is back. Don’t worry about Baylor.
-Looking for a team to make a leap in 2013 on the ground? Try Rice. Their top eight rushers – Charles Ross, Taylor McHargue, Turner Petersen, Jeremy Eddington, Luke Turner, Brandon Hamilton , Driphus Jackson and Jordan Taylor, all return. They lose 36 yards of rushing from WR Vance McDonald and RB Sam McGuffie. The Owls rushing attack suddenly looks loaded.
-Life is good for Larry Coker and UTSA, as they went 8-4 in their inaugural season at the FBS level and return every player responsible for every yard of total offense.
Greg Tepper is the associate editor of Dave Campbell's Texas Football and TexasFootball.com.