SPRING PREVIEW: Increased competition at RB

THERE WERE TIMES last fall where the light was still on in Todd Sturdy's office at 3 a.m., the Cougs' offensive coordinator pouring over film and data trying to map out how to get four yards in the running game. It's a different feel this spring as one of the top position battles figures to be at the running back spot -- no fewer than six on the Wazzu roster have Pac-10 playing experience.

Two of the six, Chris Ivory (hamstring) and Chantz Staden (knee), will miss the spring but that still leaves four running backs, all of whom have Pac-10 experience.

"The running back position is going to be really competitive, I think," said Sturdy.

The quartet who figure to compete in spirited fashion over the 15 days of spring ball that begin today out on the Palouse -- Dwight Tardy, Logwone Mitz, Marcus Richmond and James Montgomery.

Tardy is the most experienced of the group, with 26 career starts including eight last season. He rushed for 481 yards on 131 carries in 2008. He figures to be pushed by Mitz who on 90 touches gained 441 hashes, a 4.9 yard average, last season.

Marcus Richmond was one of five singled out by Paul Wulff yesterday for his offseason work ethic. Richmond, listed on the fall 2008 roster at 205 pounds, now checks in at 220 pounds spread over his 6-1 pound frame.

And the guy who might be generating the biggest buzz among fans headed into spring ball, for the work he did in practice last season while sitting out a transfer year from Cal, is James Montgomery.

"Montgomery will bring some competition to that spot," said Sturdy.

While Sturdy said in a perfect world he'd like to have everyone 100 percent coming into spring, injuries also open other doors.

"We have a lot of question marks as you always do this time of year. We're going to be short some guys but I always take the positive approach -- when you're missing guys it's going to provide some opportunities for other guys. And that will allow us to build some depth," said Sturdy.

Last season saw some tough sledding indeed out on the Palouse, at running back and at every other position for the Cougs. And so Sturdy and the other Cougar coaches were burning the late night oil during game weeks, just trying to figure a way to get four yards, make a stop, win a ballgame.

But Sturdy says the Cougar coaches' mindset has been and remains to simply go grab the lunch pail and go to work. He also said the Cougar Nation is, down the road, going to be pleased with the results.

"We've got a good plan. We just need to keep working our butts off. And we're going to get this thing going. The (fans and alumni) are all going to be happy," said Sturdy.

Cougfan Top Stories