Bison in search of a breakout performance from a running back
FARGO - North Dakota State has yet to have a running back go for more than 100 yards, and the regular season is already past its midway point. That's an odd-sounding statement for a program that has routinely put a back over 1,000 yards every season.
FARGO – North Dakota State has yet to have a running back go for more than 100 yards, and the regular season is already past its midway point. That's an odd-sounding statement for a program that has routinely put a back over 1,000 yards every season.
On Saturday, it appears true freshman Bruce Anderson will have his chance to find the hot hand when the Bison play at Indiana State.
"We need to give him more carries," said NDSU head coach Chris Klieman. "We don't have a John Crockett. There's a reason he's with (the Green Bay Packers)."
Crockett finished his career last season and is on the Packers' practice squad. The plan this year was to break up the load that Crockett got last season with a backfield-by-committee type of approach with Chase Morlock, King Frazier, Lance Dunn and perhaps Anderson. For most of its Division I life, the Bison have lived with a one-two punch system in the backfield, such as the one Crockett and Sam Ojuri threw at opponents in the title years.
Morlock has been hampered by a sprained ankle and Dunn has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury. Frazier leads the team in rushing with 357 yards, but none of the backs have particularly shown the ability to consistently be a threat to break the long run.
That may have something to do with the offensive line, although when asked earlier this week to assess the performance of that group, Klieman said, "the offensive line has been doing a good job for the year. I thought on Saturday we were better in run blocking than we were in pass protection. I thought we did a good push. A couple runs that were five yards could have been eight or nine. We missed a couple of holes with the running backs where if we make a better cut, we're off the gate."
NDSU's best performance to date was probably Morlock's eight carries for 76 yards against Weber State. He was hurt the following week. Frazier and Anderson each had nine attempts last week in the 24-21 loss to South Dakota, although Anderson showed a burst with a 42-yard kickoff return.
He wouldn't mind doing that from the tailback position.
"That's what I'm trying to work on, finishing my runs," Anderson said. "Just run through people like they're not there."
It's an emerging physical attitude for Anderson, who earned the chance to ditch his redshirt in fall camp.
"I think with more carries, you get that swagger of the game," he said. "You know how to play it your way."
His way would be north of a 100 yards. It's something the NDSU offense hasn't seen yet this season.