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Cincinnati Bearcats Backfield Will Be A Balacing Act

For the past couple of seasons the Bearcats have had one guy at running back. Just one. There has been no real rotation. Just a guy, his offensive linemen and the ball. That is going to change this year, and it will change in a big way starting Saturday against Purdue.

Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE

Ralph David Abernathy IV, Tion Green, Rodriguez Moore and Hosey Williams. Those are the four backs to will receive the lions share of the carries, and that has probably been the four guys in Eddie Gran's mind since spring practice ended and they began preparing for this season.

In one respect the rotation might have some kinks to work out. Doing a running back by committee usually works best when everyone involved has a role, knows what it is, and executes in their spot. You have your space player, your home run hitter, the thumper and the short yardage specialist.

For the Bearcats there isn't that separation of skill sets. RDA4 is clearly the space player, I think that is well established. But the rest of them have some overlapping qualities. Tion is the biggest of the bunch at 6'0" 220 so he would seem to have the power spot locked down, but he has ridiculously quick feet and the speed to break some big runs. Rod Moore doesn't have the outright speed or short area quickness of RDA4, but he has great hands, with a good feel for the screen game and has a knack for reading the flow of defenses to generate big plays on the ground. Williams is 5'9" 200 so he has the bulk to run with power, but he also has great balance and enough speed to at least threaten a defense at the edge.

That confluence of skill sets is bad for defining a role for all of these guys, but it is great for game planning. If there is no one specific thing that these guys are known for it makes it harder for the defense to tell what the offense wants to do.

That was part of the problem with how the outgoing staff used RDA4 a year ago.If he was lined up in the backfield, it was either going to be a screen or an outside zone play. If he lined up in a slot position he was almost always motioned into the backfield, from where he would run the outside zone or get a middle screen. Occasionally he took a jet sweep.

Knowing whats coming, or a rank order of the plays that are most likely coming, only goes so far. You still have to get RDA4 on the ground, easier said than done. The challenge for Gran is to find a role for all of these backs, but without making the offense predictable based on which back is in the game. Its a tricky balancing act, but Gran has a history of striking the right balance.

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