Tailbacks share time & do it productively

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The Iowa State running game has been a “one-back” operation for much of the last 10 years. Through four games this season, it’s been a different approach as Shontrelle Johnson and James White have split most of the carries.

Only three seasons did more than one runner average at least 10 attempts per game: Alexander Robinson and J.J. Bass in 2007; Stevie Hicks and Greg Coleman in 2005; and Hiawatha Rutland and Michael Wagner in 2002.

In those years, none of the runners averaged better than four yards per carry.

Johnson (4.8) and White (4.1) are splitting the duties in 2011 and each is averaging more than four yards per attempt this season. White’s average could be even higher, but he had nearly 100 rushing yards called back by penalty against Texas.

“We’re making more big plays (this year) because we have more playmakers,” Head Coach Paul Rhoads said Tuesday. “We ran the ball effectively against a team in the Top 15 nationally (Texas). When we got a body on a body, we were effective.”

In two seasons, Johnson has given a spark to the ISU rushing attack. His career average is 5.4 yards per attempt and he’s also second in the Big 12 in kickoff returns. White has also had good production and shown some quickness.

“He (White) is very elusive and doesn’t need much of a hole,” Rhoads said. “He showed better speed than I would have thought. I’ve seen him in the open against our team (in practice) and not go the distance like he did Saturday.”

Reader feedback is welcome at 2minutetimeout@iastate.edu. You can also follow me on Twitter at: twitter.com/SteveMalchow

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