Spring Practice started March 18. The Bulldogs will start their preparation for the 2014 football season and it ends on April 12 with the Spring game, the marquee event of Super Bulldog Weekend. Mississippi State is poised to have one of their best seasons in 2014, but there are a number of things that need to be developed to get the most out of this team as possible. Today we look at the Running Backs.
In the Dan Mullen offense, the Running Back is one of the most important players on the field. Power running backs normally fare better than scatter back types. The good news for Mississippi State fans is that we have a stable of running backs who fit that mold.
Feature Josh Robinson: Ladarrius Perkins was the starter throughout the 2013 season and the second leading rusher, but if you asked just about anyone that covered Mississippi State football last season, they would tell you Josh Robinson was our best running back. He averaged 5.9 yards a carry and was a north/south runner that does better in a spread option. Early signs this spring indicate that Mullen plans to make Robinson a big part of the offseason by repeatedly emphasizing that Josh Robinson is the first tailback. If he can stay free from injury, I expect big things from Robinson next year.
Acclimate Ashton Shumpert: I was surprised when the coaching staff decided to burn the red shirt of Ashton Shumpert last year. I thought they would have held on to his red shirt and let Robinson and Nick Griffin get the bulk of the back up carries. Instead, they opted to let Shumpert play some, and gave any carries not designated for Robinson or Perkins to Shumpert. He showed that he is going to be a productive back, but now that he seems to be the planned number 2 guy to Perkins, the coaching staff needs to find ways to incorporate him into the offense so there isn’t a drop off in production when Robinson needs a breather. It’s especially important because I think they would like to keep the red shirt on Aeris Williams next season.
Find a role for Nick Griffin: Does anybody else remember before the 2012 season when Nick Griffin was going to push Ladarrius Perkins for the starter role that year? It seems like an eternity ago. I don’t know what happened, but the supremely talented, highly sought after running back has lost his way on the Mississippi State football team. I hope there is a role for him on this team, though I don’t know what that will be. Sometimes players just don’t pan out the way you expect them to, and that has been the case for Nick Griffin. Next year will be his senior year, so if he doesn’t produce more than he has thus far, then his career will be very disappointing. I hope it turns out differently for him, but all signs seem to point to the coaching staff going in different directions at the running back position.
We have a bunch of talented running backs, and coupled with the running ability of Dak Prescott, there isn’t any reason why Mississippi State shouldn’t be one of the top rushing teams in the SEC and in the nation in 2014.