North Texas Daily

Mean Green offense focuses on running

Mean Green offense focuses on running

Mean Green offense focuses on running
September 10
23:43 2014

Ehsan Azad // Staff Writer

Through two games this season the Mean Green football team has run 132 plays on offense. Out of those plays, 98 have been running plays.

For the Mean Green, the running game has been more successful in every year under head coach Dan McCarney. In 2011, the Mean Green rushed for 1,829 yards and averaged 3.8 yards-per-carry, and last season the team rushed for 2,349 yards and averaged 4.3 yards-per-carry.  McCarney said it takes a certain type of disposition to run the ball.

“I like balance, but it still starts with a mentality of tenacity and toughness, when we are at the line of scrimmage,” McCarney said. “When we were at the hotel Saturday, I made the offensive and defensive linemen stand up and I wanted to challenge them.”

McCarney said he told those players that there are many differences in college football today with how offenses and defenses are played, but the most important part of the team is along the offensive and defensive lines, which help in running the ball.

“One thing that hasn’t changed over the years, the game is won in the trenches,” McCarney said. “You win the battle up front. You have a chance to win games.”

The offensive line is considered a big part of the running game, as it opens up the holes for players to run through. Senior offensive lineman Cyril Lemon said he doesn’t feel too much pressure on the offensive line despite its big role in the running game.

“That is our philosophy. We are a hard-edged mentality offense,” Lemon said. “We rather run the ball than pass it, so there really is no pressure on us.”

Lemon has been a key contributor to the Mean Green offensive line and running game for four years. He said he prefers to block for running plays rather than passing plays.

“I would say personally I like to run block more because it means we are going at the defense. When we are pass-blocking they are coming at us,” Lemon said. “Run-blocking is a physical thing. You can do combo moves, and those are things you can’t do when you are pass-blocking.”

Lemon also said that the running backs and offensive line have a close relationship. The linemen work to block for the running backs so they can pick up rushing yards.

“We work to see the back of our running back’s jersey,” Lemon said.

The running backs are the main part of the rushing attack. Last season, the Mean Green were led in rushing by Brandin Byrd who rushed for 1075 yards and 11 touchdowns. Byrd has since graduated and there are a few running backs trying to fill his void.

One of them is senior Reggie Pegram, who had led the team in rushing last week with 83 yards. Pegram said he doesn’t necessarily believe the offense needs to be based on the run, and that balance is the key to winning football games.

“We try to do whatever is necessary to win,” Pegram said. “If we have to pass the ball 50 times, we will, and if we need to run the ball 50 times we will.”

The Mean Green rushed for 245 yards against Southern Methodist University last week. The team’s 55 attempts put the large part of the offensive game plan on the rushing attack. Pegram said he doesn’t think the game plan put too much pressure on the running backs and they do what is asked of them.

“We have a job to do and we got to get it done, so we got to go out and play football,” Pegram said.

Pegram said one reason the team did so well in the running game is focus and great practices during the week leading up to the SMU game.

“We knew what they would do and how they would scheme our run game, so we just took advantage of it,” Pegram said.

While many teams in college football lean on the passing game, Pegram said teams will always need a good running game if they are to win in college today.

“The teams you see in the championships these days, whether it is the super bowl or national championships, all have a good run game,” Pegram said.

Featured Image: Senior running back Reggie Pegram stumbles over a Southern Methodist University defender on his way to the endzone on Saturday. Photo by Edward Balusek – Visuals Editor

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