When we think about running backs, sometimes Herschel Walker comes to mind, exploding through the hole. Or, maybe, Arian Foster does, making cuts that drop defenders to their knees.
No matter how big the star running back, professionals always talk about the importance of blocking assignments. If you think about it, a balanced offense lives half of the time on the run. Sometimes, backs run out to the flat to catch a pass. In the plays in which they remain in the backfield and block, they can be the deciding factor in the success of the play.
Let’s get into the logistics. The Rams have ten running backs on the roster, so let’s start with who is getting people excited.
Dalyn Dawkins, for one. He's a redshirt sophomore transfer from Purdue, standing 5-foot-9 and 175 pounds. He is quick and cuts like a deer. His 4.5 second 40-yard dash means he explodes through the hole and makes a move in the second level. We have seen successful shorter running backs as they get lost in the wash. With this zone blocking scheme, he could be very successful in the run game.
The downside with Dawkins is his size and weight. If you ask a physicist which is going to win in a collision a light back or a heavy defensive tackle or linebacker and they are going to side with the defense most of the time. It takes dedication and precision to be an undersized back blocking for the long ball. When questioned about the size of his backs Coach Bobo responded, “If you have the will to [block], and put your head in the right position and your body between you and the quarterback, we have a chance to block. We can do things, protection-wise, get them out in routes and put it on the corner backs. So no I am not concerned.”
Next on the list of exciting players is Treyous Jarrells. He is thought to be the front-runner for the job. Standing at 5-foot-7 and 185 pounds, Jarrells has similar speed to Dawkins and better vision downfield. He is probably the best all-around back on the team. Last year he had 437 yards and 6 TDs rushing with the Rams behind Dee Hart. Treyous was essential in the success of last year, running between the tackles with physicality as well as outside with speed, further proving Coach Bobo’s point. Still the physics is in and it will recquire great precision on Jarrells part and strategy on the part of the coaching staff to make the smaller backs successful.
Finally we will conclude with Jason Oden Jr., the bruiser. Listed at 5-foot-11 and 218 pounds, Oden is thought to be the guy who will be doing the heavy lifting in the blocking game. If you need a man between the quarterback and the defender, an extra 30 pounds can make all the difference. With good size and a respectable 4.66 second 40 yard dash this guy is going to be exploding through the hole with a good deal of force and his blocking has the potential to be great (from a purely physics point of view).
The truth is, it is too soon to know who is going to be the starter and who will be trusted with which responsibilities.
Bobo could go with Jarrells on first and second down and put Oden in to block/pound it inside on third downs. Or allow Jarrells, who showed he was decent at blocking, try his hand as a three-down back. Bobo could also rotate them in from series to series until he decides on a starter. That will all be played out soon enough, but it's important to point out the competition at quarterback is not the only one for Colorado State.