Top 5 Reasons Dan Mullen Won’t Let the Freshman RBs Tote the Ball


After six games in the 2015 football season, most Mississippi State fans have seen enough of junior running backs Ashton Shumpert and Brandon Holloway. Most would like to see redshirt freshman Aeries Williams and Dontavian Lee get their shot, or even true freshman Malik Dear. But Dan Mullen continues to trot Shumpert out as a the starting tailback, alternating series with Holloway and rarely inserting the freshman into the game.

Shumpert and Holloway have combined for 70 carries on the year while the freshman have just 33. Despite over double the amount of carries on the year, the freshman have just 65 less yards in total and are averaging almost a full three yards more per carry (7.27 : 4.36)

Here are the top five reasons for Mullen not playing his freshman tailbacks:

5. Dan Mullen doesn’t like to play freshman

You could also probably say he prefers upper class-men, but what’s the difference? Mullen has built the program on “development” so he absolutely believes that he and his coaching staff will have their players developed by their third and fourth years in the program. If they aren’t developed then he’s sort of wasted time and his methods didn’t work on that particular player. Coaches are stubborn and don’t want to admit defeat, thus…he doesn’t like to play freshman.

4.  Shumpert is the best pass-blocker

At this point, pass-blocking is about the only reason Shumpert is playing. He was catching some passes but even that’s died off the last couple of games. When you can’t push past the line of scrimmage against Troy then you just don’t have what it takes running the ball. Shump isn’t in there to carry the football anymore, he presents no threat.

3.  Holloway might break a big one

Brandon Holloway is a feather-weight who gets tackled as soon as he’s touched and presents little resistance in pass-blocking. But he does have speed – way more than Shumpert (and the little sucker can take a blow). So there’s a chance he could break one, and from time to time this year when he’s gotten past the line of scrimmage he’s been able to pick up 10-12 yards. I don’t think anyone has a problem with using Holloway for 5-10 carries a game, it’s just the head-scratching way Mullen does use him as a main tailback in there almost 50% of the plays.

2. The freshman don’t know the plays

As much as Malik Dear looks like Josh Robinson, he has been preparing all this time as a slot receiver, not a running back. It’s real hard to switch positions mid-season, especially for a true freshman. As for Dontavian Lee and Aeries Williams, they probably don’t know the offense like Shump and Holloway do. They aren’t comfortable with the entire playbook, so that means they don’t go into the game at certain times and when they’re on the field they limit what plays Dak Prescott can audible to since they aren’t as well-versed in the offense.

1. Mullen hasn’t prepared the freshman

I think Dan Mullen is an excellent coach but the fact is he has not adequately prepared the freshman to play. At Mississippi State we just assume we’ll have really good running backs. Next man up. Well that didn’t happen this year so we need to look younger. Maybe Coach Mullen just thought Shumpert and Holloway would fit right into JRob’s shoes so he didn’t put as much on Lee and Williams – but he should have. Those two players have been on campus for over a year and should know the offense well enough to get out there and make a major impact when needed. And Malik Dear should have been a running back from day one. We’ve been in the business of 6′-2″+ wide receivers, not 5′-9″….I know we looked rich in the backfield but tailbacks are like starting pitching: you can’t have too many.

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