July 3, 2012
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -
With the heavy pounding the running backs receive at the collegiate level and in the BIG EAST Conference, it's good to have a stable of running backs to share some of the pain of the running game.
For Kenny Carter, running backs coach at the University of Louisville, he may be one of the luckiest coaches in America.
Entering the start of fall camp on August 3, Carter has four solid ball carriers to start the season, and also has a component that every coach dreams about - competition.
Competition to be the main guy will be fierce and each repetition will be scrutinized from the first practice until the ball kickoffs on Sept. 2 at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium against Kentucky.
The Cardinals lost their leading rusher in Victor Anderson, who is in the Canadian Football League with Montreal, but Carter returns juniors Dominique Brown, Jeremy Wright and Senorise Perry, while red-shirt Corvin Lamb will be the newcomer to the unit.
"They are collectively as good as any group I have had in my career," said Carter, who coached talented running backs at Florida and Penn State. "I've had several guys from others schools who have played in the league for a number of years. The thing I like better about the guys I have now, they are great after contact, and you can interchange them. Plus, with the transition to the West Coast offense it's a heavy two-back offense. We can have two tailbacks in the game and they can block like fullbacks."
Brown is the top returning running back after rushing for 533 yards and four touchdowns after transitioning from quarterback. Wright ran for 334 yards and a score last season, while Perry scored once last year in limited action, but had a solid spring. Lamb, who sat out last season, is coming off a spring where he portrayed good balance and vision, and toughness after contact.
Head coach Charlie Strong said in the spring that he would like to have one player emerge as the No. 1 guy, but Carter knows he is in a great situation because each player can step up at any time, and be the No. 1 ball carrier.
"What we will do, is that we will play them all," said Carter. "We will go by feel from the week and the way the game plan is. They can all do it all. Dominique is just heavier than everyone else. They are all 208 pounds or heavier. He is 230 pounds now. They are all extremely strong. He has a different dynamic because of the weight. He is learning to play behind his pads, which he didn't do at times last year so he should be able to take his game to a different level."
With Shawn Watson taking over as the offensive coordinator, the Cardinals have installed their version of the West Coast offense and can use any combination of the running backs in the backfield. The coaching staff has worked all summer preparing the game plan for the opener, and continuing to develop the offense, which emerged late in the season with Watson as the play caller.
"It's been really smooth. From a coaching standpoint, Shawn (Watson) and I have a connection because of Walt Harris. Dave Borbely and Shawn coached together at Colorado so there is a lot of continuity. Ron Dugans with the wide receivers has done a good job growing some of those young wide receivers. We have tried to not change a lot of verbiage when it comes to the offense. We have changed some of the
schemes. It makes it easier for the kids."
The Cardinals will be better with at least eight starters returning, including four of five starters on the offensive line. However, if play in the BIG EAST has shown anything over the years, the champion has been able to run the football. And for Louisville, they have the pieces in the backfield, to run it better than anyone.