Spring Game Run Analysis

With Justice Hill sitting out the spring the competition for second and third on the running back depth chart was everyday and it continued right on through the spring game with answers likely still left to be decided in August.

Before you start to panic because the total run production in the Orange-Black Spring Game was 136-yards on 51 carries, here are some things that you should know and remember. Just as Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy said there were players on the offensive line playing that will play very little, if at all next season. There were others that will play some, but hadn't played much to this point, there were players that had not played next to each other, and there were players playing positions that they had not played before, at least during the spring. When you have 11 healthy offensive linemen you have to make adjustments. Those adjustments on both sides of the ball favored the Orange and minus a couple of reverses that may or may not have been in there for future opponents to soak up, the Orange rushed 29 times for 120-yards. Not bad, an average of 4.0-yards a carry. 

La'Darren Brown led the way with 10 carries for 49-yards including a 14-yard carry and Brown, who has as much wiggle and ability to make defenders miss as any of the Oklahoma State backs, also caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Rudolph. Brown can't do interviews, but I bet if he could he would talk about how happy he was with his ball security. Throughout the spring Brown has shown up, daily and in scrimmages as he can make defenders miss and has a burst of speed. He is flat our fast. He scored a touchdown in the second scrimmage running between the tackles from a couple of yards out showing his 5-9, 195 pound frame has some power when needed. 

It was truly good to see Brown perform well and have the ball security that coaching staff always demands. If you fumble as a back at Oklahoma State then you may not carry the ball for quite some time. 

The first touchdown was scored by Jeff Carr and Carr has had a productive spring. He is good about ball security, but you get the feeling throughout the practices and the scrimmages the coaches wanted to see more, more production. In the spring game he had 14 carries for 30-yards. One carry amounted to 21-yards and the touchdown was from the two, so that leaves 12 carries for 9-yards. Carr was productive in scrimmages and is still competing for the role at the position that will go along with last season's leading rusher and Freshman All-American and Offensive Freshman of the Year in the Big 12 in Justice Hill. 

"I feel like the O-line blocked good and I could have run better," Carr said after the Orange-Black spring game. "I need to keep working this summer and keep improving. There are things I can improve on."

Carr is being very kind as on the first series of the spring game he had to fight hard to get a one-yard gain when a defensive tackle was let loose in the backfield and he did do a good job to avoid the loss. The next play there was too much edge penetration that kept an off tackle run from even getting back to the line of scrimmage. Given a fair shot Carr, Brown, and Wilson all played okay. The exceptional running back does what Carr did on the first play and that is find something when there is nothing. That is what Justice Hill did last season on many carries and what Chris Carson did in an increasing role when he returned from injury.

“Every practice I wanted to be out there and today I did too,” Hill said after the spring game as he informed us he is back in the weight room and lifting after shoulder surgery to correct several shoulder sprains from high school that he played through last season. “You have to wait your turn, wait your time. I was taking mental reps every practice. Coach tells you to use those things to get better. I was doing that and I will take those to the fall.”

If you look at the practices and the scrimmages along with the spring game then Ja’Ron Wilson may have come out of the spring with a slight advantage but there is no doubt that Jeff Carr and La’Darren Brown also did some good things throughout the spring. In the spring game Brown’s performance coupled with good ball security was a huge plus.

In the fall you will add freshmen J.D. King and Chuba Hubbard to the mix and you know from experience that Gundy always likes to throw young running backs in the “deep end of the pool” during fall camp to see if they swim. In the past backs like Kendall Hunter and Keith Toston have done so well that they earned significant playing time. We’ll likely see that coupled with Wilson, Brown, and Carr all battling for reps as well. 

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