A Running Back Battle But Which Back for NU?

Who will be behind Brett Basanez when the Cats line up Saturday? Northwestern Head Coach Randy Walker has been pretty clear, Brandon Roberson didn't necessarily lose his starting job last Saturday because he was injured. So what is everyone [who is talking] saying about all this, remembering the "other" back, the guy who rushes for Northern Illinois...

There are 2 potential Running Back Battles this Saturday...
The first one is between NIU Tailback Garrett Wolfe, who only rushed for 152 yards on 17 carries, including a 76 yard scamper for a TD, and whichever back winds up starting for Northwestern.

Wolfe is small, elusive, and very fast. He makes defenders miss and as you can see from the stats above, he capable of taking it to the house. According to Walker -
There's a word we use around here and I think it applies to Garrett, Football Speed. You know, there's track speed and there's football speed and some guys, I don't know what they run a 40 in and I don't know what they run a 100 meter dash in but you put them on a football field with a ball in their arms and they're real fast. Garrett is certainly one of those guys.
So we have Wolfe's Football Speed against potentially 4 different Wildcat running backs. Brandon Roberson is still listed as the starter, but when he went down last Saturday, the #2 guy, Tyrell Sutton stepped up big time.
This is what we thought would happen, we started off with Brandon Roberson, and as I said, I still feel very good about Roberson and the kind of football player he is, but ... turned his ankle early in the game and ... I had no hesitation about going to the next back [Sutton], or the next back [Hamlett or Conteh] after that...

Tyrell got the call and again I thought he was productive at times, I thought he played solid and mature for the first time out of the blocks, and that was good to see.

You never know what you're going to get out of a true freshman so it was good to see that, but I still think Brandon Roberson is a guy who is going to contribute a lot here and hopefully we're going to get him back this week ... and hopefully we keep things going in the right direction.

Tyrell had a good first outing, but I think he'd admit he has a long way to go to be a real special back and hopefully we can go there. [Walker on the Big 10 Teleconference]

What Coach Walker is saying here is that if he can come back and play, Brandon Roberson is still the #1 back - "the Guy" kinda - which leaves a lot of wiggle room in the NU offense. 

Right now, Tyrell Sutton is the "or" guy on the pregame 2 Deep. His stats for the Ohio game were very impressive - 2 TDs, 104 yards on 17 carries [6.1 ypc] and another 23 on 2 catches. His longest rush was 20 yards, no big break away run, but capped a 4 play 55 yard drive that essentially iced the game.

What did he have to say about his performance?
My vision was just to contribute to the Wildcats the best that I could, whether it was bing a backup to Roberson or returning kickoff returns, whatever I could do to contribute to the Wildcats today. [Sutton on WGN Post Game]
He was a solid #2 behind Roberson - both had good camps, but 100 yards for his first outing was impressive
Well, like I said, I wanted to do what I had to do contribute to the Wildcats as much as I can.

It was unfortunate that Roberson went down but as soon as he gets back we're going to be a running back tandem.
What does he think is his best asset as a back?
I Think that's one of my best assets, being able to see things even when they're not there. Being low to the ground, a low center of gravity, and great balance, but I think my vision is what pulled it out today.
On a side note, You might consider the youth of the NU Running Backs
Our eldest running back is Nathan Shanks who is a junior, but I think we went out there and impressed a lot of people here tonight, even with our youth. I think it was pretty good the way we displayed ourselves tonight.
Sutton also is excited about playing with Brett Basanez
He's a great guy, he picks everyone up even when they're not down, he keeps everybody motivated - he's just a great QB.
In the final analysis, you'd have to say that the jury is still out in Randy Walker's mind about which - Roberson or Sutton - becoming the starter, but in the back of every Wildcat Running Back's mind is the knowledge that if they get hurt, or are having a bad day, there's another back who can come in and pick up the load.

Northwestern hasn't had that kind of luxury in a long, long time.

You can send your direct comments or "back door" information
directly to Coach Roy
[or comment on the Purple Boards]

CoachRoy74 on AIM

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