Who gets the majority of carries in the USF backfield in 2013?

Posted: June 11, 2013 in Football
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Who will be the workhorse of the USF running game in 2013? (Picture credit: http://www.tampabay.com)

While the quarterback situation is one of the biggest topics in the offseason for the Bulls, a question just a large is looming for the USF offense.  Who is going to carry the bulk of the carries for the running game?  In the past, the USF quarterbacks have been some of the top rushers on the team (Matt Grothe and BJ Daniels) and veteran running backs like Mo Plancher have been the second leading rusher.  However, that will change in 2013 and beyond with a run heavy offense that will put the spotlight back on the running backs.   While this all sounds great, the question remains, who will step up in the Bulls’ backfield?

The Bulls have had a quarterback over the past few years carry the load of the running game.  You have to look back to the days of Andre Hall before you can see a feature running back being the workhorse of the running game.  In Coach Taggart’s offense, which will still allow the quarterback to move and scramble, it will feature a running back to carry the bulk of the carries.

At the moment, the Bulls have four running backs on the roster: Marcus Shaw, Willie Davis, Michael Pierre, and Kyle Peck.  Marcus Shaw, the only senior running back measures in at 5’9″ and 178 lbs., not the ideal size for a feature back.  However, he has the most experience of any of the running backs.  In his career, he has 83 carries for 391 yards and 3 touchdowns (51 for 248 last season).  He is known for his speed and quick cutting ability, all great features, but not a lot of power to carry the ball up the middle 20 times a game.  Redshirt sophomore Willie Davis, 5’9″ 213 lbs., has more size and bulk than Shaw, but has less experience.  He carried the ball twice last season for just 7 yards.  Davis has good speed and size to carry the load for the running game, but he is unproven.  Junior Mike Pierre (5’10” 210 lbs.) is very similar to Davis in the size comparison, but sat out all of last season (took a redshirt).  He has good speed and saw a lot of carries in the spring, but like Davis, he is an unknown heading into the season.  Senior Kyle Peck, 5’8″ 183 lbs., is a walk-on that isn’t really in the discussion to get carries this year.

USF has two incoming freshmen that will be given a chance to shine.  Sta’fon McCray (5’11 196 lbs.) and Darius Tice (5’10” 200 lbs.) are both expected to get a chance to carry the load in the fall.  McCray is a little faster than Tice, who is the more powerful runner of the two.

So who gets the job coming out of the fall?  At this point, it is up in the air.  I don’t see Shaw being the feature back, however, he will get a lot of carries.  I see either Pierre of Davis getting the starting job in the backfield.  Both are capable backs, but from the brief times I’ve seen Davis and the highlight tapes of Pierre, Pierre seems to have a little more speed and agility in the backfield.  The two freshmen, Tice and McCray, will certainly get their chance to shine in the fall and I think either could get on the field as a true freshman.

Coach Taggart has said it will be a running back by committee approach this year, but at some point, someone has to step up and take the bulk of the carries for the offense. With that said, I believe it will be Pierre in the end to get the majority of the carries this season.

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