An Experienced Ground Attack

Just like we did last season after Media Day, over the next few weeks we will wade through our team's depth chart (PDF file).

All right we are starting a little late. But what the heck. We try to go through all the units. I have a feeling after going through this exercise it will become pretty apparent once again that Dorrell has enough talent and experience in his roster to put together a very special season.

Lets start with looking at our ground attack and take a look at our tailbacks and fullbacks depth chart:

28 Chris Markey (5-10, 205, Sr) (13) 31 Trevor Theriot (6-0, 227, So**)^
36 Kahlil Bell (6-0, 219, Jr) 32 Michael Pitre (5-11, 229, Sr**) (9)
42 Chane Moline (6-1, 230, So) 41 Dylan Rush (6-4, 342, Fr**)
24 Ryen Carew(5-10, 202, So**)^ 46 Chad Moline (6-0, 229, Sr**)^
23 Justin Fareed(5-10, 197, Fr**)^
20 Raymond Carter (5-11, 187, Fr)

** denotes red-shirt
^ denotes walk-on
() indicates number of games started in 06

And here is a look at their stats from last season::

28 Chris Markey 227 1107 4.9 70 2
36 Kahlil Bell 60 239 4.0 32 2
42 Chane Moline 33 101 3.1 9 5

In addition to looking at running stats we also need to look at the receiving stats of our backs, considering catching out of the backfield is one of the hall mark features of an efficient WCO:

28 Chris Markey 35 261 7.5 28 0
32 Michael Pitre 16 132 8.2 17 0
36 Kahlil Bell 6 38 6.3 11 0
42 Chane Moline 5 40 8.0 15 0

Obviously there has been some concern about the season ending injury to Carter. But as CPB pointed out at Bruin Roar this injury is more of an issue for next season, not this one.

I think if you look at that roster it is pretty clear that nothwithstanding Carter's injury we have enough talent to put together a formidable running game this coming season.

Markey is obviously the headliner in this running attack. He is not a spectacular game breaker. However, even with Dorrell’s unimaginative and boring offense he was good enough to finish with 1,107 yards rushing last season with a very respectable 4.9 yards per carry. And he was also effective as a receiver with 35 catches (team leading) out of the backfield. CalPolyBruin in this profile praised Markey as a "meat-and-potatoes kind of running back":

I would call Markey a meat-and-potatoes kind of running back. He isn't going to blind you with his speed or knock you over with his size, but he is a durable, consistent, blue-collar kind of player. He has good hands and is a solid and dependable receiver coming out of the backfield.

I was surprised, at the end of last season, to see that Markey had racked up over 1,100 yards with an average of 4.9 yards a carry. Those numbers were good enough to rank him 4th in the PAC-10. It didn't seem like he was always an impact player each game, but he consistently contributed to the offense and he compiled a pretty impressive set of stats along the way.
So we know what we are going to get with Markey. He is not going to have a lot of game breaking Fostereque’s TDs. However, he will be good enough to give 4-7 yards a carry. And if our offense features a true balanced attack with unpredictable play calling he should be good enough to provide a steady presence in the backfield. Since we are hearing a lot of hype about how the DVD Man is going to improve our red zone offense, I’d expect Markey to score more TDs this coming season.

Now behind Markey who emerges as the 2nd, 3rd, and possibly 4th option could be interesting. Derrick Williams as many of you know left the team with concussions. So that leaves is with Bell, Moline, Carew, Carter, and Fareed. I didn’t think Bell was very inspiring last season. He is a decent size back. But to date he hasn’t shown any agility from the backfield, as he seemingly slams up the middle for no gains every time has gotten an opportunity to run the ball. Perhaps he will give us better production this coming season with a new OC, OL coach and more experience from rest of his team-mates. But I am not sure.

What I would like to see is more time for Chane "The Train" Moline. I like this kid’s game a lot. He was money last season. He made things happen whenever he got the ball, scoring most TDs among the running backs. I think if the coaches can utilize this kid’s talent and put him in position to make some plays, he could emerge as pretty solid weapon out of the backfield. Whenever he carried the ball he seemed to do it with so much energy and determination, keeping the motor running. So if he has had a good season, I’d expect him to put together a good season this coming year.

That brings me up to Ryan Carew. I have heard a lot of hype about Carew from practice watchers and from the MSM. From all account the kid has talent. It will be up to the coaches to make sure he is put in position to utilize it.

As for Carter he was one of Dorrell’s prized recruits from last year’s small class. He has been hyped to have that game breaking speed, our backs have lacked since the departure of MJD. Based on all the hype we have heard about Carter, we should expect him to emerge as a good back before he finishes as UCLA.

Meanwhile, in absence of Carter if there is going to be any shakeup in this rotation, I wouldn't be surprised if the coaches try out someone like Christian Ramirez or Aaron Ware who played TB at the high school level on this rotation.

And I have no clue about this Fareed dude. I imagine the kid works hard and will make some contribution during practices or scrimmages or whatever.

As for the rotation at FB Pitre is going to be the man. Yeah yeah Theriot is listed as the starter in the current depth chart. But that was done because Pitre sat out spring camp due to an injury. If Pitre is back in form in camp in next couple of weeks, expect him to be a solid starter at this spot. He is a pretty strong fullback who is a good blocker and also can catch the rock out of the backfield. Now in a classic WCO (like the ones we saw operate at Candlestick) Fullbacks like Rathman, Floyd had key roles in the offense. You’d think the coaches would find a way to get Pitre into the mix a little more. We will have to see how innovative and pass happy Norvell really is this coming season. If he is as good as he has been hyped, you’d think Pitre would get a little more action to shake things up.

And I wouldn’t mind seeing the coaches mix it up a bit by also giving the Chain Train some action at FB. Not sure what Theriot and Dylan Rush can do at FB. If Pitre does go down, we will expect Dorrell and his coaches to make things work. After all if Dorrell and Norvell are such great teachers of WCO, their players should be well versed in their system by now and step up and perform just like it happens in teams running an actual efficient WCO.

The bottom line is we have enough experience and talent in this unit to put together a formidable running game. Again remember in 1994 we went to the Rose Bowl with basically an unheralded Senior Kevin Williams and freshman Karim Abdul Jabbar whose numbers didn't equal Bell's numbers heading into that season (link). We also lost a highly heralded freshman (Skip Hicks) early in that season to injury (in a 13-14 loss to Nebraska). Yet the team persevered and made the best out of what they had available to complement its passing game.

Similarly we have enough experience and talent at this position to make a run. If Dorrell and the DVD Man cannot get it done with these guys, they are not going to get it done any time.

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