Wildcat Express? Or Maybe The Triumverate?

No doubt about it, freshman running back Tyrell Sutton has grabbed the position of Northwestern's primary back and has demonstrated why he's considered the present and future of the NU running offense. But when you listen to Sutton, and his head coach RAndy Walker, you also hear suggestions of a rushing offense that involves two more players...

Everyone is impressed and excited with the play of NU Running Back Tyrell Sutton,
The Big 10's Offensive Player of the Week has put up some pretty impressive numbers in two games, and seems to have locked up the position of "the guy" behind NU's QB Brett Basanez.

But all we hear from Coach Randy Walker and Sutton himself is how much better the NU offense will be once the injured RB Brandon Roberson "gets going."
Its great that Tyrell stepped up, but going into the season we really believed that Brandon Roberson was going to be our guy. I still think Brandon is going to make a statement before this is all said and done.
Its one of the basic tenets of Randy Walker/NU Football, you try not to rely on Freshmen to make your team a success,
I've never gone into a season thinking, "This freshman's really going to have to step up and carry us," because sometimes I think you let yourself down if you think that way.
And you have to be prepared in case a player gets injured...
Its great that Tyrell stepped up, and had a couple great weeks

[But] We also know that we're going to need more than one running back, probably, and we're probably going to play more than one running back as the season unfolds, but we thought when we recruited Tyrell he was a very good football player, he has obviously displayed a maturity level that's going to let him play, make a big contribution as a freshman, and we're excited about where he's at.
Does Sutton see NU heading towards a "tandem backfield?"
I do see it, you know Brandon Roberson is a great guy and a phenominal back. Unfortunately he's been hit with some nagging injures, but actually I see...

We have a 3 member rotation with myself, Roberson, and Gerard Hamlett and we all have different styles but also we're similar and if all three of us can get in the rotation, it will be a sight to see for the running game at Northwestern.
College football is full of teams that have used tandem backs successfully. One of the more famous is the Southern Methodist University "Pony Express" backfield of Eric Dickerson and Craig James in the 1979-82. Together they combined for 8,192 yards and 70 TDs on 1,573 rushing carries over 4 years. [They also had a 4 TDs on Passes.]

Those Pony Express numbers show just how good multiple backs can in a decent offense.

Last year, Wisconsin actually had a 3 headed monster with Anthony Davis, Stanley Booker and Matt Bernstein. Between those 3, the Badgers rolled up 1673 yards on 399 carries.

While its probably too early to predict greatness for a Wildcat tandem, Sutton is averaging 6.8 yards per carry and 159 yards per game. Hamlett has far fewer carries but averages just over 20 ypg and last Saturday Roberson averaged 7.1 yards per carry before he had to step out of the rotation.

In any case, both Coach Walker, and Sutton keep talking about a tandem backfield for NU, and Sutton hints that it will be good once everyone gets on track because of the O-Line, guys up front...
Streif led the way, actually Joe [Tripodi] and all of them, they open up some really huge holes.

All I have to do is just follow them to the promised land.
Amen.

[Thanks to Tod Meisner at SMU for the SMU Pony Express Stats and the Wisconsin Web Site for last year's numbers]

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