With so much focus on the arrival of Norm Chow and what that will mean to the success of the passing game let's take a moment to realize that the running game is in very good hands with an extremely deep and talented group of players, as deep as we have seen in years, who will be given the opportunity to shine.
We all know what kind of speed Sultan McCullough has and this fall we have seen him running with more confidence, a better sense of relying on his instincts. Sultan has much better hands than people realize and his teammates marvel at how naturally strong he is. One of the primary concerns of the coaches during the off season was the need to get Sultan to trust that the holes will be there between the tackles and not to immediately break a play outside, so far the results have been positive.
The injury to Malaefou MacKenzie will hopefully be nothing more than a temporary setback for one of the true leaders of the team. His all around skills fit so perfectly with this offense that we need to see him out there and there might not be a player on the team that Carson Palmer trusts more on the field. The forgotten man in many discussions is Charlie Landrigan but the coaches are fully aware of how valuable he can be. To have a fullback who is an excellent blocker, has good hands and can be effective when called upon to run with the football gives Chow the ability to put Charlie alone in a single back set without tipping off what the play will be. The lingering back injury to Chad Pierson is a concern, however, because of the multiple skills that Chad brings to the table and it would be very nice to see him return to action.
Two other backs who deserve mention are Chris Howard and Justin Fargas. Howard was the top TB recruit two years ago and a knee injury sidelined him last season and has hobbled him a little this year but Chris is a warrior with the ball in his hands and has impressed when given an opportunity. Trojan fans are going to like what they see but Howard is stuck behind some talented players on the depth chart and will have to wait his turn to be the featured performer. Another back playing the waiting game is Justin Fargas as he sits out his transfer year but Fargas is making the most of the time by playing for the scout team and causing nightmares for the starting defense. The athletic and acrobatic Fargas was in the wrong system at Michigan where they prefer bigger tailbacks who pound the ball but he seems reenergized now that he is with the Trojans and looks every bit the runner who was considered the best in the country coming out of high school.