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Broncos Have Three Talented Runners
by Chris Coleman, TechSideline.com, TSLMail #447, August 27, 2010
Virginia Tech has a terrific trio of tailbacks in Ryan Williams, Darren Evans and David Wilson. However, Boise State will counter with a group of runners who have been very productive throughout their careers. Like Evans, one of them is even coming off a torn ACL.
Jeremy Avery (5-9, 173, r-Sr.), D.J. Harper (5-9, 198, r-Jr.) and Doug Martin (5-9, 201, r-Jr.) will serve as Boise's three-headed monster in 2010. They are all very experienced players, and have put up some good numbers in their respective careers.
Avery put up the big numbers last season. Harper went down with a torn ACL in the third game of the season, and Avery and Martin carried the load for the rest of the year. Avery finished 1,151 yards on the ground, averaging 5.7 yards per carry. Martin ran for 765 yards, scoring 15 rushing touchdowns while averaging 5.9 yards per carry.
Before he went down with his season ending knee injury, D.J. Harper had 44 carries for 284 yards, which is an outstanding average of 6.5 yards per carry. He was thought to be a major loss at the time, but Avery and Martin picked up the slack in a big way.
None of the Boise state running backs are big, powerful guys. However, they do excel in the open field. They can all run by defenders and make players miss in the open. Look for the Bronco coaching staff to try to get these guys in the open against the Hokies, particularly on the wide side of the field where the Hokies will be breaking in a number of new starters.
Despite their excellent overall numbers, these running backs struggled against the two good defenses they faced last season. Boise State played just two defenses that ranked in the top 60 in total defense: Oregon at #35 and TCU at #1.
Against the Ducks and Horned Frogs, the Bronco tailbacks found things a little more difficult than against the Utah States and Bowling Greens of the world. Here's a look at how they did in the season opener against Oregon.
Talk about pounding the football on the ground. With the exception of one 33 yard run by D.J. Harper, the Bronco offense spent most of the night running into a brick wall without much success. It didn't matter however, because the Boise State defense was dominant and held Oregon to eight points.
Fast forward to the final game of the season, the Fiesta Bowl against the #1 defense in the country: TCU.
The Boise State running backs could only manage just over two yards per carry against TCU. In their two games against good defenses, Bronco tailbacks combined for 76 carries for 229 yards ... an average of 3.01 yards per carry.
Virginia Tech's defense is very inexperienced on the field side. The Hokies will be breaking in a new whip (Jeron Gouveia-Winslow), field corner (Jayron Hosley), free safety (Eddie Whitley) and stud (Steven Friday). You can expect Boise State to attack this group of players, both on the ground and through the air.
It's very important for these guys to man up and stop the Boise State rushing attack. Bud Foster's defenses generally don't have much trouble shutting down an offense that is one dimensional. If the Hokies stop these Boise running backs, then it will make it that much more difficult for Kellen Moore to move the football against Foster's large variety of disguised coverages.
Judging from how Boise State ran the ball against the two good defenses they faced in 2009, it looks like the Hokies have a good chance to stop their running game. If the Tech offense can fare a little better than Oregon and TCU, the Hokies should have a good chance to win the game.
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