Spring Practice- Running Report

Wednesday was a short yardage day for the University of Cincinnati football team. While the running game looked strong at times, head coach Brian Kelly was left asking for more from his players when it came to powering through for short, tough yardage.

"It's spring ball, you're trying to develop your team for 2009. It's like my family. We don't have great days everyday, but we're still a family," Kelly said after his team practiced Wednesday. "We're still a family, but today was a short yardage day and we've got to get guys that stop reading their press clippings on how good they are as running backs and get us short yardage runs. We've got to do a better job, we've got to be tougher offensively, we've got to be more physical and that's really been the theme all spring. Today's another one of those days where hopefully it's a good teaching moment."

While Kelly is still searching for an answer in the short yardage game, he's prepared to send his running game up against anyone out in the open field.

"We're great between the 20s. I'll line my guys up anywhere against anybody between the 20s," Kelly said. "It's short yardage and in the short field. That's really where we are, in terms of finding guys that can get us that tough, extra yard when there's an extra defender in there and he's got to be able to grind it out for you, or pick up tough yards in the red zone. Between the 20s I'm fine with where we are. We've got some talented guys. We've really got to focus in on those guys that are going to pick up those tough yards for us."

Injuries have allowed for running backs Isaiah Pead, Darrin Williams, and Scott Johnson to all earn reps with the first and second team offenses. While all three stand shorter than six feet, Kelly says that doesn't mean they can't be the ones to power through for that extra yard.

"[Their size] doesn't mean they can't play physical," Kelly said. "I think it's the maturation process of they all think that they're Barry Sanders, and sometimes you've got be just a grunt and lower your pads. They're all strong enough, they're all physical enough, they all bench 350 pounds. It's just a mindset, and we're teaching. They haven't been through this before, those guys that have never been in a spring, this is their first spring, so we're creating situations that you don't get a chance to create in the fall because you're preparing for Rutgers."

The Bearcat running game is sure to be a point of emphasis before the season kicks off against the Scarlet Knights Sept. 5. If coach Kelly can have his running backs performing as well in the short yardage game as they do in the open field by then, he should feel very good about his team's chances.

"I'm really good between the 20s right now. I like our team between the 20s," Kelly said. "I don't like us in short yardage and I don't like the way we play in the short field."

Bearcat Insider will keep a close eye on the UC running attack as well as have more from today's spring practice posted throughout the day.

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