Running backs looking to do it all in 2010

In the Brian Kelly era, the Cincinnati Bearcats gained an identity as a primarily passing offense. This season, however, new head coach Butch Jones and his staff are looking diversify this potent passing offense with more running plays and running backs who can do it all.

"They are involved in every single aspect of our offense," running backs coach Mark Elder said. "There's the obvious things like running the football, but where we're ultimately critical in pass protection. We're also splitting our running backs out as wide receivers, we're running routes, so we have to understand the whole (offensive concept)."

Coach Elder said this group of running backs is more than willing to do all the different things this offense requires of them.

"They want to be as involved as possible," Elder said. "They always say to me ‘hey coach, give me some reps, I want to flexed out as receiver, throw me the football. Throw me some screens out of the backfield. I want to run the ball or I want to pass protect.'"

When it comes to handling the ball, obviously the most important thing is ball security, something this coaching staff has stressed all spring long. Players have to do extra running or extra work for spinning with the football or switching hands.

"When you're spinning, the tendency is for the ball to get away from your body which makes you more susceptible to get hit and fumble the ball. And obviously that's our No. 1 goal is to protect the football," Elder said. "We want to have good ball security by keeping the ball high and tight, tucked away and just leave it in whatever hand it's in."

Much like the previous three season, Cincinnati is using zone blocking and running scheme which for the running backs mean they need to make one cut and go forward. The No. 1 running back heading into the season should be Isaiah Pead, but Darrin Williams and John Goebel look to get plenty of time as well.

Williams has had a good spring showing his breakaway speed and homerun ability, but also has shown he has good hands out of the backfield and is solid in pass protection despite his size.

Goebel has missed the last couple of practices with a left foot injury but should return soon. Elder said he likes how hard Goebel runs the ball and how well the senior runs pass routes.


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