Chris Ash Transition at Rutgers: The Running Backs

In the move to the Chris Ash era, Scarlet Report looks at each position in the 2015 season and the upcoming transition under a new coaching staff. Today, we continue with one of the strongest units in the Rutgers running backs.

The Facts – Sophomore Robert Martin led all rushers with 763 yards and six touchdowns. Classmate Josh Hicks ran for 674 yards on 5.2 per carry. Fifth-year senior Paul James finished his career with 554 yards and five touchdowns in his final season. The 2014 season’s leading rusher – Desmon Peoples– sat out the year for injury reasons.

What Went Right – Give former running backs coach Norries Wilson a ton of credit for the development and consistencies for his guys. Fumbles decreased. Pass protection improved. Rutgers got the most out of an injury-weakened James. Rutgers has an exciting future with Martin and Hicks as a potential elite Big Ten combination. Justin Goodwin performed solidly in his role, and provided depth as needed.

What Went Wrong – Rutgers performed well but for the second straight year, it took too long to turn to the younger and more dynamic players. James earned first dibs but when the younger Hicks and Martin hit their stride, they needed more carries.

Something to Fix – Is there still a place for the traditional fullback role at Rutgers? When you have a perfect athlete for the position like Michael Burton or a seasoned veteran like Sam Bergen, it works, but Rutgers no longer has the personnel.

The Ash EraChris Ash knows the Rutgers running backs well after he coached against them three years in a row. Hicks and Martin can be the centerpiece of any offensive scheme, including what Drew Mehringer has in store for the Scarlet Knights in 2016. If Rutgers wants a power spread, then it is time for opposition to feel the power of the new day under Ash with Hicks and Martin.

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