Season in Review: Running Back

Looking back at the RB position for the Utes in 2014

The Stats
(Jr) Devontae Booker: 292 carries, 1512 yards, 5.2 ypc, 10 TDs, 43 Rec, 306 yards, 2 TDs
(Jr) Bubba Poole: 49 carries, 211 yards, 4.3 ypc, 3 TDs, 12 Rec, 93 yards
(Fr) Troy McCormick: 30 carries, 178 yards, 5.9 ypc, 1 TD, 2 Rec, 18 yards
(Fr) Dre'Vian Young: 4 carries, 14 yards, 3.5 ypc

The Breakdown
Let's be honest here; Devontae Booker was the best running back in the Pac 12 in 2014, at least during conference play. If it hadn't taken the coaches 3+ games to figure out that he was the team's best tailback, there's no reason to think he wouldn't have thrown another 150 yards onto his total. That would have put him past UCLA's Paul Perkins for the conference rushing title (Booker finished 60 yards behind) and into the top 10 in the country. Take Booker off of this team and Utah loses to UCLA and Oregon State, while victories over USC and Stanford are probably losses as well. The guy had 226 rushing yards by himself against the Beavers. The rest of the team combined for 89 yards of total offense. No Booker turns an 8 win regular season into 4 wins. He was that good and that valuable. Booker's receiving chops kicked in late in the season it allowed the Utes to counter the 8 and 9 man boxes he was seeing. I can't overstate just how good Booker was in 2014. Probably the best season out of a Utah running back EVER. Troy McCormick had a reverse-sandwich-season with all of his run coming in the first two games and the final three games. He was non-existent during the meat of the season. Still, the freshman showed flashes of potential and speed when he did get an opportunity. With another year of added weight and strength, he should be able to spell Booker more often next season. Poor Bubba Poole. Started the season as the feature back, struggled a bit, and had only 16 carries over the final 9 games and eventually fell to third behind Booker and McCormick.

Reason For Optimism in 2015
It appears as if Devontae Booker is leaning towards coming back for his senior season, which based on his age and the pounding he took last year is a bit of a surprise, but there's not a Utah fan or coach out there that is going to complain. If he returns, Utah will return arguably the best the back in the conference in the Pac 12 in 2015, along with four offensive line starters that improved quite a bit as the season went along. Throw in the depth of McCormick, Poole, and then a couple of youngsters and the Utes are looking good for next season.

Reason For Concern in 2015
What if Booker doesn't come back? It's still possible that he jumps as the senior-to-be hasn't officially announced either way. What then? The rest of the backs will be back, but is there anyone on the roster that comes close to Booker? If Booker does come back, will he be the same guy? We saw a less effective John White in his final season not looking like the same player as the year before after carrying the ball about a billion times. Will the pounding Booker took in 2014 hamper him at all in 2015? If the bowl game is any indication, he'll be fine with rest and an off season, but it' still a question mark.

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