Next up: Running Backs. In preparing this post, I, TwistNHook, realize that we never quite gave a grade. How about B+/A-? Generally, great, but a few rough patches here and with the fumbling. Oy! With the fumbling.
TwistNHook: The RB situation is a bit odd. It’s tough to give anybody here bad marks. Forsett, statistically is one of the best in the Pac10. He’s averaging over 100 yards a game. He is averaging more than 1 TD per game. Best is doing his best Marshawn ‘04 impersonation. He gives us all incredible hope for the future. But the past few games, it seems that a)Best has had a terrible fumbling problem and b)nobody is quite running like they used to. Is that a OLine problem? I don’t know. But I do know that Tedford, for all his amazing QB teacher reputation, has created a run first team in Berkeley. It was like that with years ago with Joe Igber and it remains the same now. When the RBs aren’t able to take care of business, it doesn’t seem to matter how many unbelievable WRs we have. Our offense suffers. And that’s the problem Cal has had during our long national nightmare the past few weeks.
Ragnarok: I’d echo those sentiments, Twist. What I’ve enjoyed about this run is that every backup has given us hope for the future: Echemandu following Igber, Arrington following Echemandu, Lynch following Arrington, Forsett following Lynch.
So far, Best has given us hope for next year, but is he really the between-the-tackles runner we need? Montgomery is supposed to be the Thunder to Best’s Lightning, but so far, I just haven’t seen it. That’s not to say it’s not there, just that I haven’t seen it. That and Best’s fumble-itis are my only quibbles with the RBs.
TwistNHook: Did anybody else notice that the Texans ran Echemandu a bunch this past Sunday. They even cut Samkon Gado to keep Former Joe. Go Bears!
HydroTech: I think we should be happy with what our runningbacks have done for us so far this year. They’ve been plenty productive but their production starts with the offensive line. They need the big uglies up front to open up a hole and keep a defender from coming down the pipe during the handoff. So my point here is that if we’re going to talk about the RB production then sort of implicitly tied to it is the discussion of the OL blocking. Both positions have been adequate in terms of the running game except for the UCLA game, and to a smaller extent the ASU game. I think the best measure of the RB production is what they can do once they’re past that initial wall of defenders - what they can do to get yardage against the LBs and DBs. Best and Forsett both have done adequate jobs at getting yards after hitting the hole. As for Best’s "fumble-itis", how many times has he fumbled? Twice? Once, one of his own blockers accidentally knocked the ball out and the second one was a bad toss and bad blocking accident. I don’t think it’s completely fair to say he has a fumbling problem. Yeah, he shouldn’t be fumbling but those fumbles were on unusual circumstances.
Yellow Fever: My only gripe is that maybe Best should be getting a few more carries, especially when things are bogging down in the middle of the line, but by and large I haven’t had any problems with our RBs as a group. Like HydroTech mentioned, RBs are dependent on the line in front of them making holes for them to run through, and it’s difficult for even a great RB to make something happen out of nothing on a consistent basis. (Witness Edgerrin James in Arizona.) I can’t think of many instances at all in the team’s running game where a bad play was due to one of our RBs running himself into the wrong hole or not seeing a gaping hole develop in front of him, and in general they’ve done a good job of picking up the yardage that was there.
Ragnarok: OK, I tried to argue with Hydro, but fumbling statistics are maddeningly difficult to find. What I did think was interesting was the Cal has fumbled 11 times on the year, but has only lost 5 of those fumbles. I can’t say who was responsible for all those fumbles, but I’m pretty sure we won’t stay that lucky for long.
HydroTech: Well, I’ll argue against myself. Best as two (maybe three?) fumbles and he’s had a lot less carries than Forsett. So I guess he’s not doing that well and maybe does have a fumbling problem.
TwstNHook: The stats I found don’t include anything for Best’s special teams efforts, but they say that he has run the ball 22 times for 177 net yards. Also, that he is averaging 22 yards per game. That yards per game seems a lot lower than I thought. I found that interesting. Forsett has 179 attempts on the year.
So, if Best has fumbled the ball twice in 22 attempts, well, I can’t do math, but that could end poorly at 179 attempts. Not sure if you can do it that way, though.