Shotgun Spratling | USCfootball.com

Texas twosome ready to run now

By this last week of spring practice, the Texas duo of Ronald Jones, on the right, and Aca'Cedric Ware are finally ready to run the way they hoped they would be to start -- and say they're back in plenty of time.

The Texas twosome haven't exactly gotten their running games going this spring thanks to one turf toe and a foot sprain.

But not to fear. "We're ready to go," Aca'Cedric Ware says as Ronald Jones nods in agreement.

That's pretty much the way it works with the juniors who call McKinney and DeSoto, Tex., respectively, home.

"We," is the word they say as Week 5 of spring practice winds down to its Saturday Spring Game finish now that they're back together and talking some football.

How is it, they're asked, that they do seem to speak with one voice so naturally.

"Telekenesis," Ronald says with an impish grin as Ced giggles just a bit at the word signifying the mind over matter ability to move things without touching them.

Telepathy seems more like it for two guys who seem to think and answer as one although maybe the extra element of movement is appropriate for a pair of running backs who play the same position but can only do so one at a time.

Although this spring, it's more often than not neither.

When it comes to driving the run game, that's been the task for redshirt freshman Vavae Malepeai, who has gotten his chance and made a place for himself.

That's not the way Ced planned it before spraining his foot. "I wanted to establish my role," Ced says despite just a couple of carries that came in last Saturday's scrimmage. "I think I still can. It's possible."

Having Vavae show up the way he has makes it better for all the running backs. "We're competing against our brothers," Ronald says. And that's a very good thing for all of them including Dominic Davis and James Toland, also now back from academic issues and an injury, respectively, and Reuben Peters, who have also gotten carries in recent days.

And it's not like they haven't been doing anything. There have been the position drills they have been able to take part in as they get to know new running backs coach Deland McCullough, their third in three years.

"He's more detailed," Ced says of the approach to basic things like the steps each play requires.

"It's been great the way he breaks down our run reads," Ronald says.

Ced takes that a step further. "He teaches us how to read at level by level, not just the backers."

It's not just reading, it's repetition. Like the one they do with a seven-pound water-filled football, "Once you get the regular football, it's like carrying a feather," Ronald says.

"He works on our steps, on ball security and pass protection," Ced says.

"Ball security is No. 1," Ronald says of McCullough's approach. "I like that aspect of what we're doing. He has his new drills, his personality and the energy he brings.

"He's a very educated man," Ronald says of the former high school principal with a pair of master's degrees. "But he doesn't talk over our heads."    

But there's more than what's happening on the field going on. "We watch a lot of film," Ced says in a line we're hearing from players in all position groups.

There's a difference in simply encouraging them to watch film this year, Ronald says. "They keep track of our time in the film room."

For Ced, who ran the ball for 397 yards on 78 carries (a 5.1 average) and two touchdowns, "the two weeks off had me in kind of a slump. It feels good being back out there."

And now that he's back, even behind a backup group of offensive linemen that's been cobbled together in a spring dominated by injuries at that position, "I'm pretty sure everybody knows we can run the ball. We have nothing to prove."

With 2,069 yards on 330 career carries (a 6.3 average) in his two seasons, Ronald has even less to prove. So much less that at hearing the question to Ced, he starts moving on. No need to answer that one.

Actually you could say, he already has.

SPRING GAME INFO 

*** There will be a number of on-field presentations during the scrimmage: the 2016 seniors will be awarded their Rose Bowl rings, then the 2017 early-entry freshmen football players will be introduced and finally, the 2016-2017 USC men’s basketball team will be honored after winning a school-record 26 games including two in the NCAA tournament. Several fans will be selected to participate in a punt catching contest.

*** Pac-12 Network and Pac-12 Los Angeles will broadcast the scrimmage live from noon to 2 p.m. PT and it also will air live on ESPNLA 710 Radio.

*** Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the gate (or online on USCTrojans.com).  Children ages 12 and under are free.  Gates open to the public at 11 a.m. PT. Parking is $15 in Lots 4 and 6 on the south side of the Coliseum.  Fan information is available at USCTrojans.com/springgame

You can follow me on Twitter at @dweber3440 or email me at weber@uscfootball.com.


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