North Texas Daily

The Mean Green running back dilemma

The Mean Green running back dilemma

The Mean Green running back dilemma
April 05
17:22 2019

Since the start of 2019, the North Texas football team has been faced with several questions regarding the state of their team. One of these questions points to the status of the crowded running back depth chart. North Texas offensive coordinator Bodie Reeder commented on the high variety of running backs that are on the roster.

“It’s a stable of them, to me it means you better be ready to compete every single day,” Reeder said. “You can’t play all of them and you can’t get them all carries. That’s just numbers, that’s just life, so that’s great internal competition with that group.”

Despite North Texas undergoing alterations with Reeder helming the offense, there is still no such thing as an ideal running back when it comes to playing in the system. This opens the door for the Mean Green’s running backs ability to compete equally for a shot at the starting position without completely changing their physique or style of play.

In a scheme where Reeder has openly expressed hat he is big on up-tempo offense and running the ball heavily, it could prove to be beneficial for a roster that’s stocked with running backs.

“I think any type of running back fits in, you can do it from all shapes and sizes, you can be a power back or a speed back,” running backs coach Patrick Cobbs said. “There’s not a mold for this system, you can pretty much be any kind of back and you can judge that based on the backs we have.”

On Monday, North Texas alumnus and San Francisco running back Jeffery Wilson attended practice at Apogee Stadium. Wilson anticipates the level of competition the upcoming Spring Game will bring from the backfield.

“I’m excited to see these running backs,” Wilson said. “I’m trying to see who’s going to separate themselves or leave a statement before Fall comes around to say that they can be the guy.”

There are seven running backs on the North Texas roster: seniors Loren Easly and Anthony Wyche, juniors Deandre Torrey, Evan Johnson and Nic Smith, redshirt sophomore Tre Siggers and freshman Oscar Adaway III. In a recent story published by the Daily, Adaway received a lot of recognition and praise regarding his work ethic from his teammates and coaches. He has still been talked about as a stand out freshman.

“I think he’s probably further along than a lot of freshmen that I’ve been around physically and mentally,” head coach Seth Littrell said. “I think he’s going to definitely bring something to the table.”

During the 2018-19 season, Easly made his first career start with the Mean Green in the season opener against Southern Methodist. He went on to lead the team in carries (74) and rushing yards (386) after playing in four games for North Texas before suffering a season-ending leg injury against Louisiana Tech on Sep. 29.

After Easly went down, it was the next man up mentality for the Mean Green, opening the door for running backs to step up for the starting spot. The following game against Texas-El Paso, the Mean Green ran the ball by a committee with Smith (13 carries, 64 yards) and Torrey (19 carries, 70 yards). The next game North Texas faced Southern Mississippi, Torrey set himself apart from the crowd after carrying the ball 17 times for 95 yards and three touchdowns.

After his performance against Southern Mississippi, Torrey became North Texas’ rushing workhorse for the rest of the season and led the team in rushing attempts in every game after that. The Gautier, Mississippi native finished the season as a second-team All-Conference USA selection at running back and received an honorable mention at kick returner. He carried the ball 175 times and rushed for 977 yards on 5.6 yards per attempt along with scoring the seventh most total touchdowns in FBS (18).

“I think we have a deep group — I really like that group especially when Easly gets back off his injury, I think his rehab is going very well and I’m really pleased with where he’s at,” Littrell said. “[Torrey] stepped in and had a huge year and now has a lot of experience within the system and what we’re doing.

Now, a of couple weeks into spring practices, there hasn’t been a signal pertaining to how the depth chart will end up. It appears the Mean Green still want to see what Easly can bring to the table once he is fully healthy and able to start practicing on the field with the team. The annual Spring Game should provide insight on where the scope could be aimed when it pertains to the starting running back spot.

“It’s spring football, we’re out here and you’ve got to earn it every day, they’ve all had bright spots at some point and that’s what’s exciting,” Cobbs said. “Just today in the four-minute situation, Torrey takes one the distance and then you back door it with [Siggers] taking one the distance and then Adaway gets in there and does good things, they’ve all done a fantastic job.”

North Texas will finish out the spring practice week with regularly scheduled practices. After the Spring Game was canceled due to weather, the Mean Green held a scrimmage on April 5 at 9 a.m.

“You know, I want the decision to be really really hard on who to play because they’re all showing good things,” Cobbs said. 

Featured Image: Running back Deandre Torrey reaches out to fans after a win at home during the Fall 2018 season. File. 

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Matt Suarez

Matt Suarez

Sports Editor

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