With his combination of speed, quickness and power running, Alisa's potential is visibly noticeable. His catch and burst down the sideline against Ole Miss last season caused fans to think, ‘Where did this come from?' And it wasn't just Cougar fans that noticed it either.
The rapid rise of Alisa earned him more valuable playing time. He said that last year while in the huddle, he actually had to ask Riley Nelson at times what he was supposed to do on that play. But, Alisa now has more position I.Q. and playbook familiarity to go along with valuable added experience, which might shed some light on the reasons behind Joshua Quezada's departure. Alisa was even one of 52 preseason candidates nominated for the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation's top running back. Evidently for Quezada, the writing was on the wall.
So how is the departure of Quezada going to affect the dynamics of the running back corps? With his experience, Quezada was a stabilizing presence in the backfield, a transmitter of confidence to his teammates. Nelson has that affect as well, and Alisa has the potential to establish that through consistency and execution early on. He's already gaining the trust of his coaches, leading to a shift in his favor when it comes to number of carries.
Sure, most will argue that Adam Hine stands to gain the most from the departure of Quezada, as he will have an opportunity for more reps. While that might be the case to some degree, I'm not sure the offensive coaches would be willing to take away reps from a more established Alisa for the sake of getting a redshirt freshman running back's feet wet. I would suspect Hine's reps will be about the same as before. The running back that could benefit the most from the departure of Quezada is fullback/f-back Iona Pritchard.
Because Pritchard was absent last season while nursing a leg injury, he's been out of the collective fan consciousness for some time now, whereas fans have been waiting for Hine's entrance after a similarly long hiatus. Meanwhile, expect the more experienced David Foote to be the primary reliever - this would have more than likely been Quezada's main role this season - with Hine receiving some reps based on game situations and opponent as he gets his feet wet this season.
Pritchard could, however, be the ace in the back pocket for Coach DuPaix, a secret weapon that won't remain such for long if all goes accordingly. Coach DuPaix spent plenty of time with coaches from the Oakland Raiders and Atlanta Falcons over the summer. Both teams use a fullback/tailback type, such as the Falcons' Jason Snelling, who is a pounding change of pace from running back Michael Turner.
Pritchard is aggressive and strong, blocks and runs well for his 240-pound frame, and can catch the ball out of the backfield. His set of skills don't relegate him strictly to the fullback position.
While Pritchard is often thought of as a true fullback, he doesn't view himself as a fullback. He views himself as a tailback, or bigger-bodied f-back (which is similar to Snelling) with the size and strength of a fullback. With Alisa rising to become the primary running back, the one other back most likely to not leave the field during games is Pritchard.