Todman Presents Major Threat in UConn Attack

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Don't try to enlighten the Sooner defense about UConn All-American running back Jordan Todman.

They're already well informed.

Todman ranks fourth nationally in rushing yards with 1,574 on 302 attempts—that's good for an average of 5.2 yards per carry—and he has 14 touchdowns.

He is tied with five other running backs with the most 100-yard games (nine), a list that includes guys like Oregon's LaMichael James, Michigan's Denard Robinson and Oklahoma State's Kendall Hunter.

All of this the Sooners know and respect, citing one word that describes his style.

"Patience, I think all of those really good backs see holes and have patience to wait for their blocking to clear the hole," said OU head coach Bob Stoops. "You know, a lot of times it can be overlooked [that] backs hit up in there too soon, the space isn't there yet. You know, they haven't had time for the blocks to work the way they should, and to me, he has a great vision that way, good patience for it and then, of course, the ability to make people miss him like most backs do."

Defensive coordinator Brent Venables echoed that.

"He's very patient, a physical, downhill runner, plays behind his pads well, you know, picks and chooses his seams, just does a really nice job as a runner in a very patient way," Venables said.

Even defensive line coach Bobby Jack Wright broke out the P-word in his description of the 5-foot-9, 190 lb., back.

"I mean, he's a heck of a running back," Wright said. "He's got a little bit of everything. He's got good size. He's got good speed. He's very, very patient. He's a guy that understands the offense, understands the blocking schemes, understands what he's looking for on the other side of the ball on the defense before he hits holes and probably his patience setting up his blocks and then his acceleration when he goes through the hole."

Style wise, he might not be the shiftiest back, but he's a man with a mission of getting up the field and in a hurry.

"He's a north-south runner," said strong safety Jonathan Nelson. "He's a guy that gets what he can get, you know, without bouncing it out, without wasting time. He doesn't, he's not a guy that will try to get a 14-yard gain by running east and west, you know, for 50 yards like Reggie Bush or something. He's gonna get what he can get, and he runs through tackles.

"You know, he's not like a huge guy like a Toby Gerhart or something that will run, you know, through everybody, but what he does is he has the speed and the cuts to get north and south in a hurry, and that's how he gets all of his yards, and he runs through."

Todman's importance in this game has clearly been stressed and is a big factor in OU's preparation as evidenced in comments of praise by free safety Quinton Carter, who summed up everything that's been said so far.

"Yeah, I've addressed that a few times, [but] like I said, he's a great back, you know, All-American, put up huge numbers," Carter said. "He has a huge physical O-line in front of him. And he's really patient. He lets his plays develop, and he's a downhill runner. He doesn't waste any movement or get, you know, east and west. He gets down north and south and gets a lot of yards."

This makes it all the more crucial to fundamentally tackle.

"It's one of those things [where] you've got to bite down and actually wrap up," said defensive tackle Pryce Macon.

So did Wright.

"He's a heck of a really good back and a guy that you got to do a great job of tackling, wrapping up and getting to the ground," Wright said. "He's not a guy you're gonna knock down."

Instead, he's a tough guy that runs with a purpose of fighting for every yard he can get and not going down with lazy tackling.

"You know, he's a lot stronger than his size," Nelson said. "He runs through a whole bunch of arm tackles, and, you know, hopefully we can just try to slow him down because we know that he's gonna be going north and south."

And they know he presents one of the biggest challenges this year for the Sooner defense in the rushing attack, a challenge that the UConn running back humbly said isn't all created by him, either.

"I'm not going to put it all on my back in my hands because, you know, there's 22 guys on the field offensively and defensively," Todman said. "But, you know, personally I'm a competitor and I love to win. I actually hate to lose, so, you know, it's a challenge any time I'm on the field and my goal is when I touch the ball is to score, and, you know, move the chains, get first downs and that's my personal challenge."

OU's is to prevent that from happening as much as possible.

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