Over/Under: Running backs with starts

The Spartan enter fall camp with a No. 1 of Riley Bullough, but will a freshman unseat him as the competition unfolds?

Michigan State has been fortunate to run out a consistent starting running back the past few years since going by committee for part of 2009.

Between Edwin Baker and Le'Veon Bell, the Spartans had little concern about having a reliable option lined up in the backfield.

This season, things look a little bit different and not quite as clear. Spring ball did little to give a clear picture of a viable starting running back, as Nick Hill, Nick Tompkins and Jeremy Langford didn't do anything to separate themselves. Riley Bullough, moved over from linebacker, showed that he is a tough runner who could have a say this fall when it comes to getting snaps.

The incoming freshman trio of Gerald Holmes, R.J. Shelton and Delton Williams also join the mix now, bringing the number to seven in the backfield fighting to start.

How many different running backs will start this year for MSU? The bar is set at three.

The case for over:

The problems from spring ball continue with the returning players and no one distinguishes themselves as a clear starter.

The freshmen thrown into the mix don't pick up the playbook quickly enough to contribute immediately. The first few games feature different starters and different combinations to try and jumble some semblance of a running game together. Holmes, Shelton, Hill and Bullough all get starts as no one proves to be the best option.

The case for under:

Bullough cements himself as the No. 1 back again in fall camp and plays like Iowa's Mark Weisman and uses his size and strength to beat up opposing defenses and takes the starting job.

Holmes, Shelton or Williams come in and prove that one of them is fit to be the starter. With Holmes or Williams, the Spartans use Hill or Langford as a complementary speed back in a flashback to Baker/Bell in 2010/11.

My prediction: Under. Barring injury, I think MSU finds its option in fall camp and a player like Holmes or Bullough takes the majority of the starts. Obviously, this will be something MSU fans will pay close attention to during the fall as camp opens and everyone scrambles to understand what the team will look like this year and who will step up on offense.


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