The Best of Him?

Junior running back Tarean Folston has inarguably been good to date. He can be great, so says his head coach.

Why does Tarean Folston’s head coach want more?

Is it because any running back that can rip off 120 yards in Tallahassee should be able to hold up enough in pass protection to stay on the field for more than a half in the Desert?

Or is it because a sophomore that can fight and scratch for a combined 240 yards in dispiriting defeats at the hands of Northwestern and Louisville should have enough left in his mental tank to earn more than four carries at arch-rival USC?

Folston started slow, produced more often than not thereafter, and looked the part of future feature ‘back for most of the 2014 season.

But the future will no longer suffice. His time is now, and his head coach knows it.

Does the player?

Kelly channeled his inner Foo Fighter Tuesday, voicing the opinion at his weekly press conference that neither he nor Irish fans were consistently getting the best of Tarean Folston.

“I'm cautiously optimistic that we are going to see a little bit more than maybe we saw at times last year,” said Kelly. “And don't get me wrong, we were pleased with a lot of the things that he did last year for us. I'm a big fan of Tarean Folston.

“I have higher -- maybe I have a higher expectation of him at times than he does of himself, and that's where we continue to communicate on a day-to-day basis that I think there's so much more out there for him.”

Kelly thinks Folston can be great. Folston wants to be. So far, he’s been good, but merely more often than not.

In other words: consistently inconsistent.

To wit:

Game 1: 12 carries, 71 yards, 0 TD
Games 2-5: 30 carries, 94 yards, 0 TD – a paltry 3.03 yards per rush
Games 6, 7, 8, 10, and 11
: 97 carries, 607 rushing yards, 109 receiving yards, 6 total TD – a whopping 6.25 yards per rush
Games 9 (ASU) and 12 (USC): 15 combined carries for 44 yards
Game 13 (LSU): 21 carries, 73 yards, TD

When Kelly states, “I think he’s a terrific ‘back, and I think there’s much more for him to achieve,” the head coach is referencing the Folston who showed up against North Carolina (Game 6 above), Florida State, Navy, Northwestern, Louisville, and LSU, not the runner’s disengaged alter-ego that muddled through matchups in September, and more important, when the chips were down against the Sun Devils and pride was at stake vs. the Trojans.

“I can’t see through his eyes,” said Folston, “But I’m going to go out and play the game how I know how. At a fast level, compete at a high level.

Folston noted that it was at first surprising, but in the end flattering to hear his coach expects greatness, even though only hints of such lofty status have presented.

“Definitely, (but) I have to be consistent, that’s what I’m working on, being a consistent ‘back. You can expect more out of me this season.”

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