VAUGHT: Caragher balances two running backs

Ron Caragher hopes Kentucky is going to have one of those problems next season that football coaches love to have -- how to best use two talented running backs.

Ron Caragher hopes Kentucky is going to have one of those problems next season that football coaches love to have -- how to best use two talented running backs.

Rafael Little had an incredible 2005 season when he emerged not only as one of the Southeastern Conference's top running backs, but also as one of the nation's best all-purpose players in his sophomore year after he was slowed for part of his freshman year by off-season surgery.

Then there is Tony Dixon. He came to Kentucky from Alabama projected as a defensive back before moving to running back before the start of the 2004 season. He established himself as an elusive, game-changing player. However, he missed last season because of an injury.

With both Little and Dixon healthy, Kentucky should have two running backs capable of making big plays. The only problem is finding a way to get the ball to them both.

"Those are two really good running backs and we have already talked about getting them both on the field at the same time," said Caragher, UK's running backs coach. "That's something we have to work through in spring practice."

While Caragher also hopes UK has some other "young backs" that will push Little and Dixon, he know he has two proven backs he wants to use together at times. "If you want to run some conventional type players, you do need a fullback who can clear the path, particularly in short yardage situations where you have to move some people," Caragher said. "But as a coach, I am always thinking about getting the best playmakers on the field at the same time and these two guys are both playmakers."

Little likes being on the field and insists the more he touches the ball whether it is on a run, pass reception or kick return, the better he is. "It's hard not to have him on the field. I'll admit that," Caragher said. "He is such a complete player. I'm not making excuses for him, but I think some of those fumbles he had last year came at a point where he was just fatigued. He was getting most of the work in practice as well as games and may have just worn down. But he does also seem to get stronger as the game goes on and there's no doubt he is a special, special talent."

Little was used occasionally at receiver last year and could play there some this season to get Dixon into the backfield. Caragher would also like to take kickoff return duties away from Little because of the risk of injury on those plays.

"The problem is he's so good, he could play anywhere you want and then Tony is right there with him," Caragher said. "But what a good problem it is to have trying to figure out what to do with two playmakers like that. As a coach, I like that."


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