Bearcats Turn To Jordan Luallen And The Wildcat For Running Game Boost

Rob Leifheit-USA TODAY Sports

What was, at first, a bit of a one game fluke is now something different. All season long the Cincinnati Bearcats have been struggling, and I do mean struggling to run the football. So Eddie Gran has called on Jordan Luallen to give a boost to the running game, and boost it he has.

A picture is worth a thousand words, graphs are worth slightly less. This is the distance of an average rush for each of the Bearcats games to date.

Rushing_yields_medium

Northwestern State and Temple are clear outliers, and they should be. One is an FCS team that played far above its weight class, the other is simply a bad team at defending the run. The trend line is clear, and it is going the wrong way. The only good run defense the Bearcats have faced this year was Memphis, and even with the four rushing touchdowns the Bearcats had a bad day on the ground, the worst since Connecticut in the regular season finale of 2012.

The problem is a simple one, when the Bearcats try to get big and run the football they can't. When everyone knows its coming they can't do it, when the down and distance dictate a run they can't. The popular scapegoat for that has been the use of Ralph David Abernathy IV in the running game. But the truth is that it doesn't really matter who is running, this team can't go with two backs and run the ball with success, even if it is Tion Green in the backfield.

The running game with the big personnel just isn't working, and everyone gets some share in the blame in that. From the bruised, battered and inconsistent offensive line to the running back's everyone is culpable. Eddie Gran knows it too, which is why Jordan Luallen who was invisible in September has taken on a larger and larger share of the running game through the wildcat package.

Wildcat All Other Rushes
Temple 6 attempts, 59 yards 36 attempts, 146 yards
UConn* 13 attempts, 52 Yards 23 attempts, 85 yards
Memphis* 16 attempts, 55 yards 25 attempts, 53 yards

* Luallen is also 5 of 6 for 72 yards and a TD

The returns for the Wildcat are diminishing, but are still far better than what they Bearcats are getting from the conventional running game. 4.7 yards per carry (in the Wildcat) being obviously superior to 3.3 yards per carry (in any other personnel grouping). None of this will be a problem against SMU, as their defense will likely inflate the Bearcats numbers to some degree, but it matters down the line.

UC is at best two or three years from being able to put on a performance in the running game like Stanford did against Oregon, or that Alabama does every damn day. That is what Tommy Tuberville wants, and that is what Eddie Gran will want if he is still around. Until that point the Jordan Luallen is going to continue to feature in the Bearcat attack, and thats good because he is as close to a sure thing in the running game as the Bearcats get. The problem is that he only has five more games to play.

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