Speaking to the media after practice Saturday, Coach Koetter was asked if he still believes in having a strong, viable run game, and of course, he agreed. Talking statistically about last season, he pointed out that shooting for 2,000 yards rushing for a season can be averaged to about a 10 win season based on the teams who did it last year.
That 2,000-yard mark divided by a 16 game schedule for an average of 125 yards per game is right where coach Koetter would like to be and that’s what they are shooting for this coming season.
Getting to that 2,000-yard mark relies on a lot of explosive plays, and if you have followed the team under this Koetter regime, he lives and dies by that belief. In 2015, the team was top 10 in explosive plays and then last year we were in the bottom two for explosive run plays. Coach also mentioned the lack of explosive touchdown runs and with that problem came the possible answer of Ronald Jones II.
Jones was a home run hitter at USC and his top-notch speed along with a high football IQ will make a nice addition to this running back group. As training camp continues on, look for an exciting battle to make this deep running back group. Familiar veterans along with fresh new rookies will make this competition worth watching.
With Charles Sims, Jacquizz Rodgers, and Peyton Barber all returning from last year, plus the addition of USC’s Ronald Jones and Duke specialist Shaun Wilson, the team will face some difficult decisions moving forward. Shaun Wilson, a small running back and special teams return man, offers some upside that could possibly get him to see the 53 man roster. Regardless of what happens, healthy competition is how players improve and this running back group offers many different scenarios for the coaches to game plan with week to week.
As long as the offensive line continues to improve and operate like a well-orchestrated group, I don’t believe our coach’s goal of 125 rushing yards per game is that far fetched. We have good blocking tight ends and a team that seems ready to build around a successful run first offense. With a threatening pass offense to complement a successful run game who knows where this team could end up.