Running back Tyrone Moss was having a career year and coming off a stellar 195-yard and four touchdown performance against North Carolina when his season came to an end at Virginia Tech with an ACL tear. Not only is Moss's knee a question mark heading into the 2006 season, he also continues to struggle with his weight.
In the five games following Moss's injury, Jones ran for five touchdowns and averaged 75 yards per game. During the few spring practices the media could attend, Jones looked quicker through the hole and he said that he has better vision and feel through the line of scrimmage and the game has slowed down for him.
The unit is made up of now veteran and experienced players that are ready to step in and contribute to a strong rushing attack. Each of the running backs has worked hard in the weight room, gaining more than ten pounds since last season.
30 Tyrone Moss (5-9, 232 Sr.)
34 Charlie Jones (5-10, 218 Jr.)
21 Derron Thomas (5-9, 200 So.)
32 Andrew Johnson (5-11, 218 Jr.)
37 George Timmons (5-10, 205 So.)
41 Jerrell Mabry (6-1, 266 R-Fr)
40 Mark Lisante (6-1, 235 Sr.)
Moss is still working his way back from the ACL injury that cut his 2005 season short. Expect him to get about 5-10 carries for the first few games so he can get the confidence in his knee up. Moss freely admits he lost his focus after the injury, but during the spring he said he was back on track and working hard to get ready for the 2006 season. Moss's weight will certainly be an issue early in the season as he gets back into shape. He is currently listed at 232 pounds after playing at 220 pounds last season.
Spring Quote: "I want to get back to where I was last year because I think I was getting to my peak to being great before I got hurt. So I just have to work hard to get back to that point."
Jones is a running back that is not flashy, but he will always pick up 4-6 yards per carry. He was solid at the end of the 2005 season filling in for the injured Moss. During the spring game, Jones looked quicker through the line and in making his cuts. Jones wanted to improve his speed during the summer and if he does, he will be a complete back for UM. Jones will most likely receive the bulk of the carries for Miami in the beginning of the season.
Spring Quote: "I feel like I am a lot quicker. I feel like the game is slowing down for me. I feel like I am getting better reads. I am just learning the blocking scheme now so I know where the rushers are coming from and how much help the quarterback needs."
Thomas had another successful spring practice in 2006. At both the mid-spring scrimmage and spring game, Thomas finished with the longest run of the day. Thomas is the quickest back on the roster and has home run ability, but he has received little playing time because of his poor pass blocking protection. Like all running backs, Thomas needs to find a rhythm during a game before he can break a long run.
Spring Quote: "I came into this spring with the mentality that i was going to do the same thing as last spring," Thomas said. "With two weeks left I want to keep making plays and keep trying to get playing time and move up on the depth chart as high as I can."
Johnson is a back with a lot of potential, but his development has been stunted by injuries and being buried on the depth chart. Coker continually praises his speed and home run hitting ability. Johnson will have to work his way up the depth to see significant playing time.
Spring Quote: "I feel a lot more comfortable out here. I just feel like I can do what I am capable of. I don't feel restricted right now and I am just excited to be back out here."
Mabry reported to spring practice weighing 290 pounds. He is currently listed at 266 pounds and said he would like to be at 255 pounds for the season. He put the weight on because he could not participate in morning runs due to an LCL sprain he suffered in his knee and quad tendonitis. The coaches have said that a healthy, fit Mabry has very quick feet for a man his size. It is unknown how extensive the role of the fullback will be in new offensive coordinator Rich Olson's offense will be, but Mabry has said that he thinks his role will be extensive if he is in shape.
Spring Quote: "I can catch the ball, I can block, and I can run between the tackles. On third down and goal I feel like that is me. I just have to get back in shape and prove it to the coaches."
Lisante figures to be a solid backup full back for UM. He is a strong run blocker and has a strong work ethic. If Mabry is not in top shape for the beginning of the season, Lisante could see the majority of the snaps as a blocking fullback.
Coker will probably redshirt one of the two freshmen, Javarris James and Kylan Robinson, and use the other freshman in a special teams capacity. Because UM has many veterans ahead of the freshmen, they will probably not see much time with the offense. James and Robinson will both be key figures for UM down the road.
David Lake can be reached at email@example.com
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