Alternate Title: Holy crap, we're a running team now!
This much was clear before the season. Isaiah Pead is the best/most consistent play maker returning to an offense that lost Armon Binns (and seemingly any proven threat vertically with him) and the only remaining skill player from the Juggernaut of 2009. In retrospect I think everyone underestimated the play making load that Isaiah Pead wound up taking on. Pead wasn't alone in contributing to the rushing game, but he was the unquestioned lead dog all season long. Look at this season compared to the average from 2007 to 2010.
|Season||Attempts||Yards||Per Carry||Per Game||TD|
The most remarkable thing about the numbers from this season* is the yards per carry. 4.64 on 500 attempts is phenomenal. Rushing the Football is extremely susceptible to the law of diminishing returns. In general the more you run the fewer yards per attempt the running game will garner. The Bearcats bucked that trend in a big way in 2011. The 4.64 YPC is the third highest average of the last decade** and this season was, in general, the best rushing offense in the last decade at least, possibly two.
*There are several things that I find interesting. 28 rushing TD's is the 4th highest single season total in program history, and the most since 1993. Also the 178 per game average is 20 yards more than any per game average since 1999. Its actually even longer, but there are no statistics online past 1999.
**UC averaged 4.99 on 361 carries in 2009 and 4.68 last season on 402 carries
Goerge Winn, Jordan Luallen, Munchie Legaux and Zach Collaros came up with about 30 per cent of this seasons rushing totals but everyone knows that Isaiah Pead was the lead dog this season. It is not a coincidence that the three best rushing seasons of the last decade*** came when Isaiah Pead was the featured back for the last three years. The man is simply the best running back ever to don the Red and Black.
***Again not enough records to put what Pead did into proper context.
My favorite Pead/running game statistic from this season is this. Isaiah Pead had 237 carries for the 2011 season. which is 80 more carries than he had in 2010 which was his single season high for carries previously. It just serves to illustrate just how much of a play making load Pead shouldered this year. He is going to bow out with the second highest per carry average in program history, the only back in the top 5 of that list to play in the last 50 years.
If there is one defining trait of success for the running backs and the rushing attack this year it was winning on first downs. Which is remarkable considering the fact that by the N.C. State game it was clear to everyone that the Bearcats were now a run first team.
Here are the numbers. On first downs UC averaged 5.12 yards per carry, hard 34 1st downs, 38 runs of 10+ yards, and 13 runs of 20+ yards. The only one of those figures that isn't the highest when looking at the breakdown by downs is the 34 1st downs****. Those first down numbers are the reason why an offense that was pedestrian in terms of producing yards, 61st nationally in total offense, wound up being 26th in scoring.
****UC had 54 1st downs on 2nd down
This Is Where You Get To Point and Laugh and Call Me Stupid
In the pre season preview of the Bearcats running backs I gave the group an 8 out of 10. The post season rating for that has to be a 9. I am tempted to say 10, but there always has to be room to go up, which is possible given the offensive line and the cadre of young talent on campus, and arriving on campus soon.
What's your grade for the running backs?