Richardson’s impact on run game could be significant

Richardson, Sam B14OU2

Like most football coaches, Paul Rhoads wants to see his team run the ball effectively.

Even the elite passing teams today want to run the ball. Oregon, Baylor and TCU all ranked in the Top 10 nationally for passing a year ago and each averaged more than 200 rushing yards per game.

The common denominator for those schools is a spread attack. The Ducks and Horned Frogs both had QBs with more than 700 yards rushing in 2014.

The Cyclones top returning rusher this fall is quarterback Sam Richardson (421 yards). The only tailback with collegiate experience on the roster is Tyler Brown (24 career carries).

With the running skill of Richardson and the lack of a proven ground gainer at tailback, Rhoads was asked if Richardson could lead his team in rushing this season.

“I think that is conceivable,” Rhoads said. “Sam will be called upon to run and ad-libbing to run is a vital part of our offense.”

CBSSports.com’s Dennis Dodd wrote a recent story about the return of effective ground gains in college football. His theory included a reliance on running QBs due to the influx of spread offenses.

Dodd cited some statistical research from SportSource Analytics that indicated the average yards per carry at the quarterback position has risen from 1.85 yards (in 2005) to 2.83 (2014) in the last decade. Additionally, the percentage of rushing yards gained by a QB has increased from 10.57% (2005) to 15.28% (2014).

Richardson averaged 3.4 yards per carry and gained 28.3% of the Cyclones’ rushing yardage last fall.

Rhoads like the potential of Richardson on the run.

“He’s an athletic, fast player,” Rhoads said. “You’ve got to utilize that source to be effective.”

There’s been a focus in camp about developing a more consistent run game. And, should the QB be the top ground gainer that wouldn’t be the anomaly it once was.

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