This week we're discussing running backs! It's the workhorse position of the offense and every team needs to have quality performers lined up behind the quarterback or offense can't function properly. So who has the best and who has the worst? Let's take a look!
1. Oklahoma - Some may call it a homer pick, but I'd challenge those to find any argument to prove me wrong. There isn't another team in the conference, possibly the entire country, that even comes close to the embarrassment of riches OU has at the RB spot. Six deep at the RB spot, are you kidding me? Is Cale Gundy the most fortunate position coach in the country for having that much talent at his disposal or the most unfortunate for having to try and find carries for everyone?
2. Texas A&M - A&M is no stranger to the top of our lists here in our preseason discussions (at least while we're talking offense) and that trend continues with their talented 1-2 punch of Christine Michael (how did UT whiff on this guy again) and Cyrus Gray.
3. Nebraska - This is the one position on NU's offense that wasn't god awful last year, so returning that same backfield garners them the #3 ranking. Most Sooner fans will remember Roy Helu Jr. for his demoralizing run up in Lincoln last year. He's back this year with super soph Rex Burkhead who isn't physically imposing or anything, but he just cranks out the yards in impression fashion. Helu has had some issues in the past, so don't be surprised if Burkhead winds up with the majority of the carries by the end of 2010.
4. Kansas State - If they had anyone behind Daniel Thomas, I'd have probably ranked them even higher. So the #4 ranking is a testament to the talent of Thomas alone because KSU has almost nothing of note behind him. If Thomas were to miss extended time this year the Cats can pretty much forget about the rest of their season.
5. Oklahoma State - In a similar fashion to K-State, OSU gets #5 primarily due to the abilities of Kendall Hunter. They have some other talented young players behind Hunter and Gundy always tries to mix in several backs, but I still expect Hunter (if, and that's a big if, he can stay healthy) to get a majority of the carries in 2010.
6. Texas - When you think about the RB position at UT for 2010 one word comes to mind, blah. You could easily convince me that don't even deserve to be this high on the list, but despite my better judgment I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt just simply based on talent. I'm certainly not a Texas fan, so I sincerely doubt I spend as much time thinking about it as UT fan does but how is it possible they cannot recruit a big time RB year after year? It would make sense to change your offensive philosophy if you had a stud RB lined up to carry the rock for you this year, but that is definitely not the case so good luck with all that Greg Davis.
7. Missouri - Derrick Washington has reportedly dropped around ten pounds during the offseason after feeling he was playing too heavy in 2009. According to reports out of Columbia, he appears to be a little quicker in and out of his cuts and is looking to have a breakout senior season. Mizzou also has a couple smaller/shiftier backs behind Washington who provide a nice compliment to the senior RB.
8. Iowa State - ISU has one of the more talented RBs in senior Alexander Robinson who is coming off an impressive 2009 finishing the year with 1,195 yards and 6 TDs. Look for the Cyclones to utilize him even more in the passing game this year as well as a little bit out of the Wildcat formation.
9. Texas Tech - Not sure what to expect out of the RB position in Lubbock this year and the transition to a new/altered offense under Coach Tubbs. They have senior Baron Batch who was an excellent fit for their former offense, so it remains to be seen how they will use him in 2010.
10. Colorado - Junior Rodney Stewart as all kinds of ability, but will he be able to hold up over the course of an entire season as the primary ball carrier?
11. Kansas - How many more months until basketball season again? Wait, Josh Selby hasn't qualified yet so you can't even look forward to that yet?T
12. Baylor - Normally when you bring back your leading rusher that's a good thing. When he lead your team in rushing with 370 yards and 1 TD, that gets you the #12 ranking.
- Nebraska - As much as I'd love to put Oklahoma in this spot I just can't. DeMarco Murray needs to prove that he can remain healthy for an entire season and the line has to prove that it can run block first. Instead I'm choosing Nebraska. Roy Helu Jr. ran for 1,147 (5.2 YPC) yards last season and will be the key to the Huskers offensive success in 2010. With three returning starters along the offensive line he'll have a solid nucleus up front to pave the way for him.
- Texas A&M - The duo of Christine Michael and Cyrus Gray rushed for a combined 1,601 yards last season with averages of 5.1 and 4.8 yards respectfully. The Aggies only have two returning starters on the offensive line but the complement of their passing game should free them up again in 2010.
- Oklahoma - The combo of DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown is over because of Brown's graduation last season. Now, for the first time since the Adrian Peterson days, Oklahoma will play with a single feature back getting the bulk of the carries.
- Kansas State - Daniel Thomas ran for 1,265 yards last season and its looking like he'll be a one man show for the Wildcats this year.
- Texas - The Longhorns have said that their committed to the run in 2010. Tre' Newton's 4.8 yards per carry in `09 makes that transition a lot more comfortable.
- Oklahoma State - Kendall Hunter finds himself in a similar position to KSU's Daniel Thomas except he actually has less returning talent around him. The Cowboys will be feeding him the ball early and often.
- Texas Tech - For all of the Red Raiders exploits through the air they also have a solid rushing threat in Baron Batch who averaged 5.3 yards per carry and scored 14 rushing touchdowns in `09.
- Iowa State - The Cyclones have four returning offensive line starters and 1,200 yard rusher Alexander Robinson.
- Missouri - Derrick Washington was fed the ball 190 times last season and responded with a 4.6 yard average and 10 touchdowns. The Tigers need to increase his load by about 60 more carries in 2010.
- Colorado - Rodney Stewart led the Buffs in rushing yards (804) last season without being the full-time starter.
- Baylor - The Bears hardly used a rushing attack last season but when they did Jarred Salubi and Jay Finley averaged 6 and 4.7 yards per carry respectfully.
- Kansas - Does anyone know who the Jayhawks' running back is?