Part two in a two part series on potential 2000-yard rushers.
The next back to search for when trying to find the next 2000 yard rusher in college football, lands us at Bernard Pierce of Temple. Pierce enjoyed the epitome of a breakout freshman season as he finished the year with 1,361 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns. This was all accomplished without being the starter until 3rd game of the season!!! With that said, here is a breakdown of the pros and cons on Bernard Pierce becoming the next 2000 yard rusher in college football:
Averaged 21 carries per game after becoming the starter, despite missing two games to injury
Returns 4 Offensive Line Starters
2 games of over 200 yards rushing
2 games of 40 carries
Returns top Quarterback and Receivers
100+ yard games- 6 20+ carry games- 6 Avg. Yards per game- 105 Starter- 124
Good defense allows him to run the ball deep into games
Analysis: Temple showed this last year that they did not have any problems putting the game on their running back's shoulders. Proof of this is witnessed by two games of 40 carries for Pierce. He is a nice blend of power, standing 6 feet and weighing 212 pounds, and speed, having clocked a 10.8 100 meter dash in high school. Most of the offense is intact especially the offensive line. It also doesn't hurt that he plays in the not-so-defensive MAC.
Dealt with injuries at the end of the year
Battling Matt Brown for carries
Analysis: Pierce went out during the Army game and then was injured on his first run again UCLA in their bowl game. Pierce will need to show that he can stand up to the carries. The biggest hurdle to Pierce getting to the 2000 yard summit is that he will most likely be losing some carries to teammate, Matt Brown. Brown filled in seamlessly for Pierce in games against Kent State, Ohio, and UCLA. He is incredibly small (5-5, 167 lbs.) but is incredibly quick and elusive.
Bernard Pierce is a true workhorse and will have a great career for Temple. I see him getting his carries and making some fantasy worthy numbers, but ultimately losing carries to Matt Brown. I still look for Pierce to get between 20-25 carries a game and will be able to stay healthier on his quest for 2000.
If you are at all relevant in the college fantasy football world, this name is not foreign. Lance Dunbar broke into the scene around the fourth week of the season with 101 yards on just 5 carries against Middle Tennessee State. Here is a breakdown of the pros and cons on Lance Dunbar becoming the next 2000 yard rusher in college football.
Averaged 25 carries per game after becoming the starter (Cam Montgomery injured)
Cam Montgomery graduated so he is the undisputed starter
Returns 5 Offensive Lineman with starting experience
2 games of over 200 yards rushing
Workhorse but also explosive- 5 50+ yard runs
Returning top Quarterback and receivers
100+ yards games- 8 20+ carry games- 5 Avg. Yards per game- 115 Starter- 147.5
Analysis: Dunbar finished the year with a very respectable 1378 yards on just 200 carries. He had to be the focal point of the offense and if Todd Dodge knows what is good for him, he should do the same this year. I like that he proved to be able to take a beating as witnessed by his 5 20+ carry games but that he has the YPC and explosiveness to make the most of his carries.
Averaged only 17 carries per game last season
Predominantly pass oriented offense
Bad defense means they have to abandon the run sometimes
Sometimes gets shut down by good defenses (Alabama, ULM)
Mike Canales as OC
Analysis: I know that North Texas under Todd Dodge has wanted to be a passing team and that's why I worry a bit about Dunbar's carries although it seems that Dodge has fit his system to his players and not the other way around. Another point against his journey to 2000 is that they have a bad defense which requires them to shut down the run early. They also get shut down by good defenses which just mutes Dunbar's productivity for that week. Lastly, with the addition of Mike Canales as offensive coordinator, one must only look to USF for how many 1000 yard rushers they have had, which has been zero since Andre Hall.
Overall, I think Lance Dunbar has a good chance of breaking the 2000 yard barrier. I know that on draft day he will be high on my board with the combination of power, explosiveness, and his ability to get receiving yards. If not a 2000 yard rusher, I think he is a lock for 2000 yards from scrimmage.
JJ Arrington, Marshawn Lynch, Justin Forsett, Jahvid Best, and now Shane Vereen. This has been the amazing succession of running backs to come out of Cal in the past 5 years. Now you may notice that only Arrington hit the 2,000 yard mark but I think Shane Vereen could be next. Vereen was an amazing backup to Jahvid Best and filled in better than most would have imagined when Best went down last year. Vereen is not as fast as Best but I think he is a better all around back in that he can take more carries and runs inside better than Best.
With that said, here is a breakdown of the pros and cons on Shane Vereen becoming the next 2,000 yard rusher in college football:
Undisputed feature back
Returns 4 Offensive Line starters
Returns starting Quarterback and top receiver
Averaged 27 carries per game as the starter in the last 4 games of the season
1 42 carry game
100+ yard games- 4 20+ carry games- 3 Avg. yards per game- 73 Starter- 142
Analysis: So I know that I am basing a lot on Vereen's few games as a starter but they speak volumes. During his four games as a starter, he averaged 27 carries a game and 142 yards per game. Going into next year he has shown the ability to excel with all the carries and has lots of tread on his tires still. He returns 4 offensive linemen, his starting quarterback and top receiver, and although Jeff Tedford likes to run two backs, Vereen should get plenty of touches.
Averaged 14 carries per game
Shared backfield with Jahvid Best; never been the feature back
Loses starting fullback
Analysis: Basically it is just a waiting game to see how Vereen handles full time duty. I think he will hold up admirably but after averaging just 14 carries a game on they year, one has to be cautious. Another thing against him is that he loses he starting fullback.
Shane Vereen is the type of tailback that could have started almost anywhere else but at Cal he was behind the blazing Jahvid Best. I think that could help him though. He will enter the 2010 season without much wear and tear and therefore could really bust out. He is not very big but has shown the ability to take some punishment as witnessed by his 42 carry game against Stanford. He has a thick build, can catch the ball out of the backfield, and has the wheels to take it to paydirt.
Shane Vereen is definitely capable of breaking out for 2,000 yards in 2010 so just snatch him up on draft day.
Brynn Harvey is a hard-charging running back from Largo, Florida who, a couple of years ago, had the daunting task of filling the big shoes of his predecessor. You see, he followed the great Kevin Smith of UCF. His freshman year he showed some flashes of being able to be the next 'back for the Golden Knights if not the next incarnation of Kevin Smith. Last year, Harvey made strides going from 519 yards and 1 touchdown all the way to 1109 yards and 14 touchdowns. Quite a progression in one year and hopefully his third year will yield even more production! With that said, here is a breakdown of the pros and cons on Brynn Harvey becoming the next 2000 yard rusher in college football:
- Averaged 22 carries per game not including the game against Texas when he was rested
- Returns 4 Offensive Line starters
- 1 game of 200+ yards
- 1 game of 40+ carries
- Returns former starting quarterback (R. Calabrese) and top receivers
- 100+ yard games- 5 20+ carry games- 6 Avg. Yards per game- 92
- Good defense allows him to run deep into games
- Returns starting fullback
Analysis: Harvey plays in a workhorse back system under George O'Leary. It is no surprise that the coach loves his 'backs to tote the ball and tote it a lot. Harvey received a fair amount of carries as witnessed by his 22 carry average. He returns a former starting quarterback in Rob Calabrese but more importantly some very talented receivers in Kamar Aiken and A.J. Guyton. He also returns 4 offensive line starters. Other little things that could be helpful to Harvey reaching the coveted 2000 yard plateau are that his team plays pretty good defense in the offensive minded Conference USA. This means that he will continue to run the ball deep into games. Also UCF returns their top fullback which is pivotal in blasting open holes for Harvey to scoot through.
- Could miss several non-conference games due to injury
- Low YPC- Getting carries but not doing much with them
- Inflated stats against bad competition
- Offensive Coordinator
Analysis: Harvey did indeed get his carries but for the most part did very little with them. His average YPC (Yard Per Carry) were a meager 4.2 yards. Also Harvey only produced against weak competition. Note that in the five games that Harvey surpassed 100 yards they were against Samford (111 yards), Memphis (219 yards), Houston (139 yards), Tulsa (129 yards), and UAB (130 yards). Statistically, those teams had some of the softest defenses in the country. Against respectable defensive teams such as Southern Miss, East Carolina, Miami, and Rutgers, Harvey ran for 37, 71, 25, and 32 yards, respectively. Even against Marshall, whose defense was terrible, he only gained 47 yards. Not to mention he didn't even play against Texas. Lastly, UCF just got a new offensive coordinator which could spell doom for Harvey's chances for 2000 yards. The OC is Charlie Taaffe who comes from the Canadian Football League's Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Aside from the fact that a Tiger-Cat is a made up animal, the CFL is known for its passing and not for workhorse running backs. However, much like the situation at UConn, bringing in a new OC did not really seem to affect Harvey's carries.
If UCF sticks to its run-first game plan, Brynn Harvey could make a jump in production and will need to perform much more consistently to make it to 2000 yards. Harvey is a hard runner who has the build to take the carries. He is not overly elusive which hurts his yards per carry but he does wear down defenses. Harvey is still someone to consider on draft day although you may have to wait to see how he performs.
Here are some excellent backs who could run for 2,000 yards if not hampered by some major issue whether it be the system they play in, their own explosiveness, and/or sharing carries.
Alfred Morris, FAU- Powerful back in a defensively weak conference. Unfortunately, not very explosive so will not have the yards per carry to equal 2,000.
Montel Harris, Boston College- Thickly built back who can really grind a game out. Will get his carries but is not a breakaway threat so will not get a lot of yards for his carries. One thing to keep in mind is him running out of the Wildcat formation. Also plays in the defensively stout ACC.
Daniel Thomas, Kansas State- Tall, powerful back who is built a lot like John Clay. Unlike Clay, does not have much talent around him.
Robert Turbin, Utah State- Before tearing his ACL, Turbin was one of my favorite backs going into 2010. He has a good build, can catch the ball, has good speed, and reminds me a bit of a poor man's Ryan Williams. However, he does have to split carries with his quarterback.
Evan Royster, Penn State- Another tall, lean back who is as complete a back as you will find. However, he plays in a defensive tough conference, is breaking in a new quarterback, and does not receive the amount of carries necessary to reach 2,000 yards.
Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State- Rodgers really could break 2,000 yards but I am concerned about his size. I bite my tongue as I say it because of guys like Garrett Wolfe and Darren Sproles but he is taking a beating every year in the Pac-10. Also his team has a new quarterback.
Noel Devine, West Virginia- As explosive as they come, Devine is a homerun threat everytime he touches the pigskin. However, his carries are limited due in part to his size and his system. He will also be working with a new quarterback and will lose some carries to Ryan Clarke.
Vai Taua, Nevada- Big back who is really explosive. Will share carries with Colin Kaepernick, Mike Ball, and Lampford Mark.
Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State- Great year two years ago but now has a new OC and has some size/injury issues.
Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech- Powerful, fast, and complete back who could very well vie for 2,000 yards if not for Tyrod Taylor, Darren Evans, and David Wilson stealing carries.
Mark Ingram, Alabama- Heisman winning back who has a dangerous skill set. Unfortunately he will be sharing carries with Trent Richardson. Also plays in the tough SEC.
LaMichael James, Oregon- Possibly the most explosive back in college football but due to the system he plays in, he will lose carries to his quarterback. Also his eligibility is in question for 2010.