A Q&A With MSU RB Coach Rockey Felker

Mississippi State running backs coach Rockey Felker talks about his players and where they fit in in the halfback and fullback depth charts.

What are your expectations from your running backs now that you've seen them all during the spring?
"We have a lot of experience coming back in the backfield. We expect a lot out of (returning starter) Anthony Dixon, obviously. We gave the football to him about 275 times last year. He's a guy who is there every week. He's been pretty consistent in terms of staying healthy. I'm not sure we have another back that can do that. And we have a lot of confidence in him. But we are looking for improvement out of him in terms of being a tougher runner and a more consistent runner in reading the holes and finding the creases.

"We also have a good situation with (backup) Christian Ducre. He seems like he feels more comfortable in being in a backup role. He gives us a guy who can come in and give Anthony some rest, and he also gives us a guy who is a good receiver out of the backfield. His running style is a little different than Anthony's style. He's also a physical guy at 220 pounds who can make the big plays.

"We've got a really good situation with those two veterans at tailback.

"Then you add (redshirt freshmen) Robert Elliott and Wade Bonner, both of whom are young guys that are learning the position. They still have a lot of work to do on things such as steps, blocking assignments ... just learning the entire running back position. The running back has to be able to run, catch, block and he's involved in faking on the play. They'll give us some speed and quickness at the position that we don't quite have right now. We'll just need to find ways to utilize them in certain parts of our offense to give us a little more firepower than we had last year. Those two guys have a really good future."

So, you are definitely going to use them next year?
"They are definitely going to be in the mix. We'll utilize a halfback and a fullback at the same time sometimes. And there are going to be times when we use two halfbacks at the same time. That'll be how we get them in the game. But the main thing is to utilize the things that they do well.

"Right now, I anticipate all four of our halfbacks being on the field. We just have to use their abilities so that they blend into the offense."

Fullback will be a key position for you. And one, Eric Hoskins, is battling a nerve problem.
"We have two senior fullbacks that we are excited about. We are keeping our fingers crossed that Eric will be healthy and be ready to go. He had a big year for us last year. Brandon Hart is a guy who has been up and down. But he finished the year strong in the Ole Miss game and the bowl game.

"Those two guys will be battling it out. We also plan on looking at Arnil Stallworth at fullback. He's a little small for that position, but he's a tough, physical guy.

"Those are our three fullbacks right now."

What happens if Hoskins doesn't come back from his injury. What are your options then?
"We will count on Brandon even more. And Arnil will figure in. And we have some other young guys that we can look at."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by email at swindoll@genespage.com.

Gene's Page Top Stories