Friday, July 31, 2015

Why I’m Glad I’m Not a Coach, Running Backs Edition

Cameron Molina

I don’t pretend to have the skills needed to evaluate college football talent on the practice field.

I can watch them play in actual games and make some educated guesses about their abilities, but that’s about it.

That’s why I’m really happy I’m not the one who has to sort through the large number of running backs who will report to training camp three weeks from now. That number includes two freshmen, a transfer, and a veteran who switched positions.

This is the job RB Coach Todd Gilcrist, Offensive Coordinator Mike Faragalli and, of course, Head Coach Al Bagnoli have to sift through:

Of course, senior Cameron Molina should be at the top of the depth chart after a junior season where he led the offensive stat sheet and found a way to put in some stellar performances in a winless season.

After Molina, things get complicated.

In training camp last year, then-freshman Chris Schroer made a splash and he showed a flash or two on the field in 2014 despite an early season injury. He comes from a pretty strong HS program in Cincinnati and could be a factor if he stays healthy.

Fellow sophomore Turner DeMuth was a sparkplug as he got into more games and proved to be a decent runner and receiving target out of the backfield.

Junior Alan Watson had an injury interrupted season and is very hard to rank.

They’re listed as running backs, but sophomore Leander Cutler is a fullback and Tyler Kwiatkowski appears to be put into something of an H-Back role. Both had good springs, and Cutler seems to be improving a lot as blocker.

Incoming freshman Lucas Faria comes in as one of the most highly touted, (there’s that hated phrase again, but it’s accurate), running backs for Columbia in years. Fellow freshman H.T. Minor is more of an unknown quantity, but he comes in with some all state honors.

Finally, there’s transfer Jackson Conway, the Yale commit-turned Duke walk-on who simply cannot be ignored at 5-11 and 235 pounds. No one should be surprised if he ends up getting significant playing time and makes an impact.

Considering the solid way Molina player last year, no one would consider Columbia’s running game to be the biggest concern going into this season. But there is still tremendous room for improvement and Bagnoli spent most of his years at Penn crafting a running game by committee approach that often featured at least one serious receiving threat out of the backfield.

I’m just glad I’m not the one who has to make these choices.


Chick said...

You're still the man, Jake, for keeping us informed. I'm glad we have Molina back, but if you don't have a superstar at rb, next best thing is a varied attack, or even two equal runners for different looks and keeping the runners fresh. As you said, we have several pieces so we can hope the coaching staff molds something good.

oldlion said...

Molina is a great receiver who would do a lot of good things as a slot back.

Coach said...

Molina is a very good player. How many of these running backs being recruited run a 4.3- 4.4 40 yard dash- that is the gold standard. Hope they are all as quick as Molina.

alawicius said...

Agreed, oldlion, with Schroer, Faria, or/and DeMuth at rb.

Tony Brinson said...

Jake I appreciate the admission you are not a coach and profess to be able to evaluate talent on the practice field. Listened to too many blowhards aka wannabes, aka monday morning coaches, aka guys who reinvented the wheel. It's a breath of fresh air.

Chen1982 said...

Has Abruzeeze produced any male offspring? They would be coming of age about now no?

alswingman said...

Other than Molina, it is hard to evaluate the returning RBs due to the well documented problems with the OL. Sorry to say, I was not a fan of their play regardless of how respected the OL coach was. It was especially hard for guys like Cutler when he got so few carries due to Molina being the primary offensive mover. Maybe they will find ways to get the most out of the diversity of talent they have available.

I would expect Molina to be given every opportunity to remain #1 back but he will not get the quantity of touches he saw last season.

I am also expecting a running game with an old school smash mouth fullback. That is what is needed in addition to a complete upgrade at every OL position.

oldlion said...

Al will expect his RBs to be able to block. Most good coaches do. Molina can be another Knowlin if put in the slot. Al always rotated two or three guys at RB to have fresh legs. The coaches are apparently very high on the small RB/KR from Florida, but not as an every down back. Question: will Al be using an H back this year?

Jake said...

FROM GREG ABBRUZZESE; Chen- regretfully, no male offspring of age just yet. I have three girls and one boy. My eldest daughter (17 y/o) has a rare genetic condition called "cri du chat", nevertheless, she is a zealous Lions fan! My 13 year old will row next year at St. Paul's School and hopefully row for the Lions in the near future. My 10 y/o is dancing with Joffrey, so maybe a CU cheerleader. Finally, my 6 y/o boy will most likely play linebacker. I'll send him to Chicago to be trained by Des Werthman and he should be fine. Looking forward to a GREAT season from the Lion's and Coach Bagnoli's staff!

Chen1982 said...

To Greg via Jake

Great to hear from you. Hope your kids all do well. If your son takes a detour to Exeter et route to Columbia the circle will be complete. Hope to see you at homecoming.


DOC said...

Molina is a potentially great back as coach points out.
With an OL to open holes he is potentially all-Ivy.
Without holes his talent is as useful as an ejection seat on a helicopter...