SECOND QUARTER GRADES: Running Backs

With the season now half over, we're resuming our quarter grades series, figuring that breaking the season into nice, even chunks is a great way to evaluate progress. The grades are a reflection of performance in that quarter, not cumulative over the season.

FIRST QUARTER GRADE: A

SECOND QUARTER GRADE: INC

STATS



Rushing Receiving
G Rush Yds Y/G Avg TD Rec Yds Y/G Avg TD
FIRST QUARTER - Dwight Tardy 3 28 117 39 4.2 0 7 32 10.7 4.6 0


SECOND QUARTER
Rushing Receiving
G Rush Yds Y/G Avg TD Rec Yds Y/G Avg TD
SECOND QUARTER - Dwight Tardy 3 28 69 23 2.5 1 3 12 4.0 4.0 0


Rushing Receiving
G Rush Yds Y/G Avg TD Rec Yds Y/G Avg TD
FIRST QUARTER - Logwone Mitz 2 5 15 7.5 3.0 0 2 2 1 1 0


Rushing Receiving
G Rush Yds Y/G Avg TD Rec Yds Y/G Avg TD
SECOND QUARTER - Logwone Mitz 3 26 84 28 3.2 0 2 24 8.0 12.0 0

Rushing Receiving
G Rush Yds Y/G Avg TD Rec Yds Y/G Avg TD
SECOND QUARTER - Carl Winston 2 14 53 26.5 3.8 0 1 -3 -1.5 -3 0

COMMENTS: You know, I'd love to give these guys a real grade. But how exactly do you do that? Did Tardy suddenly become a worse runner against USC, Oregon and ASU? Of course not. Unless you're Barry Sanders, there's only so much a guy can do when there are no holes to run through, and that's exactly the situation these guys found themselves in for the past three games.

The two major developments over the last three games have been the absence of the team's best running back, James Montgomery, and the emergence of Winston, a true freshman. Winston -- whom I call Jacquizz Light -- is a smaller, shiftier back who has shown a burst that Tardy and Mitz lack. That's not a knock on those guys; that's just to say that Winston brings something different to the table. He's cut into Mitz's carries, which is a shame in the sense that we've seen what Mitz can do, but with such little holes to run through, giving the ball to a smaller guy who can hopefully squeeze through smaller creases and make a guy or two miss makes a lot of sense. Mitz is at his best running downhill behind a bruising line that can get a push, and that's just not what he was running behind the past three games.

I suppose I could have just given them another A, this time for effort -- especially for the tough yards gained against USC. Coaches also would include things like how well they did in pass protection, but my eye is fairly untrained to that sort of thing -- about the only time I notice is when a guy whiffs. In my mind, there just isn't enough information out there to evaluate these guys. They didn't do anything to hurt us, but they didn't really have the opportunity to help either.

HOW TO IMPROVE THE GRADE: I suppose I should rename this "How to Get a Grade." They need to have a fighting chance to gain some yards, something they should get starting this week against Cal -- assuming Zack Williams and B.J. Guerra return as scheduled. Both are critical to the success of the running game, and Cal has proven vulnerable against the rush, giving up better than 4.0 yards per carry to each of their past three opponents (including a whopping 5.27 this past weekend at UCLA). Notre Dame will provide a stiffer challenge, having started to sell out against the run to stop the pass, but Arizona is pretty average.

In other words, assuming reasonable health on the offensive line, we should get a better read on these guys over the third quarter of the season, as there should be yards to be had.

EDIT, 1:15 p.m.: Forgot to attach the poll. Vote if you so desire.

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