Carrying the Rock
Donald Wilkerson, Claude Mathis, Bronson Sanders, Lee Davis, Smokey Sherman, Stan Zwinggi, Karrington Bush. I see their names and faces. I close my eyes and the memories flood my mind. Frames roll by as though brought to life by an ancient reel to reel projector. I see them slicing, spinning, bursting, sprinting towards the glory that the endzone holds in her beckoning hands. The roar of the frenzied Bobcat Stadium crowd reverberating in my mind, echoing into the San Marcos sky, across streets, parking lots, and towards the river. Yes, the slouched shoulders of the opponent's would-be tacklers are in the frames as well. I, along with many, have been blessed to witness greatness in the maroon and gold backfield.
Who will grab the baton this season? One guy, three backs, how many? While the Bobcat's certainly have talent at the running back position, a point remains. The Bobcats don't have a single back who has played the position, in a live-fire situation, while wearing a Bobcat uniform. The injury to Dexter Imade, a class guy and very good football player, added to the challenges faced by the remaining 'Cats.
Left to grab the rope, and excellence will emerge from this group, are: Marcus Curry, transfer from Navy, sat out ‘10 with an injury. Has had big time success in big time ballgames, terrific burst. Tim Hawkins, converted Bobcat QB. Coach Fran refers to Tim as "Slash". Overflows with athleticism, elusive in traffic, will make game prep and gameday more cumbersome for opponents. Terrence Franks, young (redshirt freshman), but talented with speed to burn. Tim Gay and Chris Nutall, both true freshmen, are clearly very good, but were finishing their high school careers nine months ago.
From 2001-2004, I admired from afar the success that North Texas put together in winning four straight Sun Belt titles, going 25-1 in SBC games in those years. The architect and mastermind of the Mean Green’s success is our new co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach, Coach Darrell Dickey. Note: Since Coach Dickey left UNT, they are a combined 7-34 (no typo)...ouch.
I visited recently with Coach Dickey and he discussed the RB group overall, “We have a lot of work to do to get where we want to be at our position. We’ve got some good guys to work with, but we’ve still got to work on seeing how our plays develop, where the running lanes are, who we’re responsible for in pass protection. We are a work in progress at the running back position.”
As mentioned, the backs also have to help with protection. According to Coach Dickey, “I think they’ve made a lot of progress. Working against our defense, (see note below), has made us better. Pass protection is the biggest transition from high school to college…it takes them a while to figure out where they fit in the protection scheme, but they’ve done a very good job.”
Note: Coach Dickey, with many years of football under his belt, complimented the ‘Cat defense. “One of the things I’ve been impressed with is our defensive football team has some of the best blitzing linebackers that I’ve ever been around…”
I recall randomly watching Navy v Missouri in the 2009 Texas Bowl, won by Navy 35-13. I saw a Midshipman, Marcus Curry, tear up Missouri’s 12th ranked rush defense for 109 yards on 12 carries. He tacked on 5 receptions for 97 more yards. I thought to myself, “That guy is good.”. Fast forward two seasons, and now Marcus is prepared for his first game action with the Bobcats. Watching him since his arrival in Spring ‘10, I’ve thought to myself, “That guy is good.”
“I feel we are all playmakers. We all have good speed, we get blocks, we get physical…we do what we have to do to help the team win,” according to Marcus as he evaluated the running back group.
Marcus laughed and said the younger backs make fun of him for being the “elder-statesman”, “I’m like the old guy and they’re always cracking jokes all of the time.” Curry, the leader, sees a bright future for the youngsters, “I feel like they’re going to go out there and make plays if it’s their time.”
The Countdown to Kickoff blogs are winding down. We focus on the 4-2-5 defense and safeties with Coach Naivar tomorrow, Thursday. On Friday, we will visit with Coach Schultz to look over the spread offense and quarterbacks. On Saturday, we will, well, you know!
Spread the word on your facebook, twitter, phone, email, smoke signals, … Bobcat football is on ESPN Austin, 92.5 FM. Online at espnaustin.com or txstatebobcats.com. This marks the ninth season that Brant Freeman and I will bring you Bobcat football from the broadcast booth. John McElfresh will be the voice on the sideline providing insightful updates and visiting with Coach Fran at halftime and during our postgame coverage.
Also, Inside Bobcat Football will begin airing next week. Is this the year we earn an Emmy Award? Tune in and you decide!
If you have any questions or comments, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org
Eat 'Em Up!