Running Backs Enjoy Another Good Day

STILLWATER - The Cowboys got after it for just over two hours on Friday morning in full pads and then were scheduled for another helmet and shorts practice to complete two-a-days in camp before a scrimmage that will officially end camp on Saturday. The afternoon practice was scratched in favor of a trip to the Carmike Cinema and a 4:30 showing of "Lets Be Cops."

The Cowboys had some meetings afterwards, but it is fair to say that head coach Mike Gundy felt they deserved a little reward for their work in fall camp.

If you're looking for a position group that has had a strong fall camp for the Cowboys your first pick might be the defensive line. They are talented and deep. So are the wide receivers and both groups would be excellent answers.

They would be correct answers, but another answer just as good would be the running backs. Of course, when you add an athlete like Tyreek Hill to the mix then the level of play at that position is instantly going to elevate.

Desmond Roland doesn't get enough credit for being one of the top backs returning statistically in the Big 12. Rennie Childs, with his pointed elbows and knees running style, has experience and is set to build on his growing resume.

For the second day in a row in team period work all three of those running backs made key plays for the offense. There have been receptions out of the backfield, big runs up the middle, other runs on the perimeter, and a few breakaway runs that wound up in the end zone.

Ask running backs coach Jemal Singleton and he is not going to cut his guys any slack. As a coach you are always looking for more.

"I think our guys are feeling it a little bit, getting near the end of camp and maybe looking back to the barn a little bit, as opposed to coming out and pushing themselves as hard as they need to," Singleton said when asked about the morning practice. "We needed to pick it up a little bit today."

Roland, who finished with 811 rushig yard, 13 touchdowns, and a 4.6 yards average on 176 carries last season, is a guy that says he never takes a day of practice for granted. Roland has had a strong camp after coming back from off-season shoulder surgery that forced him to be a rehab player on the side throughout the spring.

"It really killed me to see my brothers and teammates practicing while I was just running gassers and working out," Roland said remembering the spring. "I just really missed the game.

"My first day back, I felt like I was really blessed to be back on the field. I really missed it. I'm just now getting back into the swing of things after a missing a whole spring of football. It feels different, but it has been good. I'm proud of the way the backs have practiced in camp."

Childs was out there in the spring, coming off of a late season concussion when he took a monster hit late in the 49-17 win over Baylor. Childs is running really tough and you have to think part of it is the increased competition with the speedster Hill at the position and Roland back.

"It's great competition. Me personally, I welcome that competition," Childs stated adding he has run inspired. "It makes you better. I'm feeling really good and I'm running through the hole and I'm running through defenders when they are in the hole."

All that said, good camp and everything, Singleton is not talking like the running backs are the finished product or any kind of given. Entitled, absolutely not. Promising and even a little established?

"A little bit. I wouldn’t say we’re established. Really, if you look at the amount of starts that we have as a position group, it’s not many," Singleton said providing evidence to back up his thoughts. "Five or six of them is about it, so we’ve still got some young guys.

" Rennie’s (Childs) still just a sophomore. Tyreek (Hill), this is his first year here. Obviously Desmond’s (Roland) been around the most, but he needs to step it up as well."

Singleton also said he is not looking at production goals for Roland and Childs.

"Not really," he answered. "Setting those personal goals I think distracts you from what’s really important. I think it’s about the team and this is exactly what we have to be this year is a team that plays for each other – plays for the man next to him.

Hopefully they just continue to do that and realize their goal is to win the football game. If they’ve got to rush for 150 or they’ve got to rush for six, it doesn’t matter as long as we’re doing things to help the team win."

No goals for Hill either, but also no doubt that Hill needs to stay healthy. He needs to provides the big-play home run threat that helps any offense. You need to do all you can to make him more effective, because that in turn will make every other player in the offense more effective.

"Definitely. You’ve got a guy that can do multiple things," Singleton added. "He can line up as a receiver. He can line up in the backfield, and really causes some problems for some defensive coordinators to determine exactly what personnel package we’re in. Are we in two-back? Are we in one-back? Those type of things. He allows us to do multiple things out of the same personnel packages."

Yes, and most of all he is really fast. That can always come in handy. Just ask those boys in the movie the team saw. Seems to me in the trailer there were a few suspects they couldn't keep up with. Hill would have them all rounded up in record time.

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