Looking Ahead- BB

Whiskey_Clear

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The Bears did this with the Fridge...I'd still prefer Payton carrying the rock, even in short yardage. Ditka was a dunce on those.
 

PowderSpringsJacket88

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It doesn't feel like it, but GT is coming off the most prolific BB rushing season in CPJ's tenure. Don't spit up your food, or choke on your coffee. It is true. In spirit, we want to remember JD's long break away runs and amazing cuts, but we also forget the negative yardage plays and yards 1 thru 4 coming far less reliably. Consider this: The tandem of Sims and Laskey together produced the same total yardage as a typical JD year, all without the benefit of long runs. In fact, neither produced a run as long as 40 yards. How did they do it? Well, there are a lot of factors. First and foremost, lets give our beleaguered OL some credit. They were more physical at the point of attack than many seem willing to recognize. In 2008, if memory serves, JD had over 50 negative yards to his credit, where Sims and Laskey had essentially zero. Both Sims and Laskey were good at hitting the hole and handling the uncertainty of the MESH. Sims ran lower while Laskey hit the hole slightly quicker while having a higher pad level. An average run for BBs last season (including Snoddy and Connors) was in the neighborhood of 5.7 yards and the total production in excess of 1600 yards, eclipsing totals from any other season in the CPJ era. In 2009, JD's average was 5.9. In 2008 it was a blistering 7.0. Obviously, JD benefitted from his ability to finish runs at the second level. That is the ingredient that has been missing. It is hard to quantify what is more critical to the offense, the consistency and ability to move chains, or the ability to hit the big play. It can be argued either way, but obviously, we want both.

Gone: is David Sims who made the transition to BB from QB during his sophomore campaign. He will be remembered by many as falling short of the standard set by the Diesel. Personally, I will remember David as a steady and productive back who hung on to the football and got the tough yards. He was a physical kid who kept his pads low, making him very hard to get off his feet. He made some runs on the interior that JD simply wouldn't have, but by the same token, once past the initial wave, he lacked the open field running skills to hit the home run.

Returning with Playing Time: are Matt Connors, RSR, 6-0, 210, Zach Laskey, SR, 6-1, 215, Broderick Snoddy, RJR, 5-9, 190. Matt Connors has been a role player for GT during his tenure and it is hard to imagine that changing. Oddly enough, he produced the longest run of the season for the Jackets from the BB position at 55 yds. Zach Laskey has the inside track at the starting role. Despite lacking the physical strength or lower center of gravity, Zach has proven himself as an inspired runner of the football and a serviceable receiver. He hits the hole on the dive faster than any back yet, but the combination of high pad level and lack of size has limited his ability in the trash. He too, has yet to show an electric ability at the second level, demonstrating a straight ahead running style. Zach needs to improve his feel for the blocking game and once again make gains in the off season with regard to gaining some size and strength. Broderick has been a bit of an enigma so far. With the fan base desirous of a return to the JD breakout run days, he has been under the microscope a bit. His blazing track speed and surprisingly easy whipping of JT (the other 100m state champion) in a foot race only wetted the appetite of GT faithful even more. Broderick has improved as a runner, but has yet been unable to unseat the men in front of him despite the sizable speed advantage. He is a bit of a tweener who lacks the size for an ideal BB and the east-west, cutback running ability of the ideal AB. In the end, running the football is as much about football instincts as it is running speed. Broderick needs to develop the former.

Waiting in the Wings: Travis Custis. I usually don't include incoming players in my analysis, but given his unusual circumstances with enrollment last year and his early enrollment this year, I will give it a go. Take it FWIW because I have never seen him carry the rock at this level. From his HS film, Travis appears to be a very instinctive runner of the football. That alone will change the flavor of the mix at the BB position in 2014. His ultimate top end speed is hard to determine, but my sense is that he is football fast more than track fast if that makes sense. The things I feel sure of are: that he will be surprisingly physical with a low pad level and center of gravity, he will use his eyes and they will get the message to his feet very efficiently, and we will see many more cuts and better open field running ability. The things I am less sure of are: his ability to stretch the field with pure speed, his ability as a receiver, and his willingness or ability to block.

In Summary: I am optimistic about the prospects at the position. Replacing Sims will be difficult, but not nearly impossible. Laskey has already shown that there is no noticeable drop off when he enters the game. The big question about Laskey is, can he handle the workload of a feature back? He hasn't proven that yet. There is a chance that a missing ingredient will be replaced in the coming year, explosion plays. Snoddy has to speed to make it happen. With Sims gone he should have the chance to get more carries to make it happen. If he doesn't get the carries, it will mean that Custis has lived up to the billing and will provide it as well. The battle in the spring should be one of the more compelling of any of the position groups.

Nice write up again.

Connors is set to graduate by this spring I believe. I have heard that he will leave which is understandable. However, I would love to have him on the roster in case we get some injuries.
 

alaguy

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I think the 3 interior OLs did a good job this yr.Blocking on the inside did not seem to be a problem thus the BBs looked good.
The only problem I see this coming yr for the bbacks is the interior line with a new Ctr and maybe OG.
ZL and Custis/Snoddy/conners combo will be maybe the deepest and most capable position on team.Maybe not great but a lot better than a bunch of other positions.
 

GTNavyNuke

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Thanks Boomer.

Isn't a "good" thing is that Custis has no RS since he burned a year with the eligibility fiasco? We'll see a straight up competition. I hope Custis wins out since we have him for 4 years (or 3 years).
 

wingsrlevel

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Thanks Boomer.

Isn't a "good" thing is that Custis has no RS since he burned a year with the eligibility fiasco? We'll see a straight up competition. I hope Custis wins out since we have him for 4 years (or 3 years).
Custis can red shirt. He still has 5 years to play 4.
 

awbuzz

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Great write up - as usual - Boomer.

Would love for ZL and BS to do so well that we have the luxury to possibly red shirt Custis. But love the fact that Custis appears to be a viable option even as a freshman.
 

LongforDodd

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Thanks Boomer.

Isn't a "good" thing is that Custis has no RS since he burned a year with the eligibility fiasco? We'll see a straight up competition. I hope Custis wins out since we have him for 4 years (or 3 years).

Custis' five year clock didn't start until he enrolled in college.
 

awbuzz

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Thanks. I thought I had read otherwise. So the question then will be whether to burn his RS or not. {Maybe we can get some BYU age men playing on our team too! tic}

If he is second or higher on the BB depth chart, I would think he plays. We need to win now.

I am confident that the coaching staff will play him if he'd be number 1 or number 2 on the depth chart without being red shirted.
 

wingsrlevel

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you need 2 guys every game to play BB. Laskey and Snoddy/Custis or Conners. There's no doubt Laskey will be number 1 this year barring injuries.
 

Ggee87

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I really like Laskey as a runner and I agree he gets overlooked by a lot of people. I disagree with you a little bit about his posture as a runner but it is not a big deal. Zach is a highly motivated runner. He runs HARD and he fights HARD every carry. The passion is obvious. He hits the hole fast and he is very good at picking up his feet in the trash and finding a good route on the interior. He could use some more size and strength and yes, IMHO, a little lower pad level. He may not be as natural a runner as some guys. I'll try to use an analogy. When you watch the worlds best swimmers, golfers, pitchers etc, they are usually very smooth and efficient in their movements. They play to great effect without sometimes even looking like they are working hard at all. Well, usually the best football runners are much the same way. Zach really isn't like that. He generally thrashes about and really looks like he is working hard. Even when he breaks free in the clear he is really working hard to pick the feet up and put them down. It is not uncommon to see him stumbling, getting out ahead of his feet, while mechanically running in the open field. I agree he is a pretty good receiver, especially in that he usually goes against LBs in coverage. He will catch the ball. I can't ever remember a drop.

Part of why I am excited about Custis is because he appeared so natural as a runner on his HS film. He has an economy of motion and plays lower, allowing for greater cutting ability. We will see how it translates to the college level this spring, but I believe him to be a natural. The level of body control he ran with in HS was pretty uncommon.
This is the best description of Laskey that i have seen. I clammored all season for Laskey to start over Sims due to the fact that he can high step through the hole and make it to the 2nd level almost every carry. Thats something that Sims simply never learned. Having.said that I hope Custis.wins the starting job because hes better than Laskey. If thats the case well be in very good shape on offense.
 

LongforDodd

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This is the best description of Laskey that i have seen. I clammored all season for Laskey to start over Sims due to the fact that he can high step through the hole and make it to the 2nd level almost every carry. Thats something that Sims simply never learned. Having.said that I hope Custis.wins the starting job because hes better than Laskey. If thats the case well be in very good shape on offense.

Sims IMO went so much to the extreme of running low that he seemed to run himself into the ground.
 

Boomergump

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Sims IMO went so much to the extreme of running low that he seemed to run himself into the ground.
Good point. Sims was great at defeating initial contact to get a few yards, but there were times where he anticipated contact that never came and he ended up going to the ground as a result of his own forward lean. In general, I like the low pads, but I get where you are coming from.
 

dressedcheeseside

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When I watch Laskey run, I see two distinct styles, a) when he's in traffic near the LOS and b) when he breaks free. When he's in traffic near the LOS, he lowers his center of gravity and when he breaks free his runs more upright. I think most guys see him running upright in the open and think that's how he runs all the time. It's just not so. Go look at some film and see it for yourself.
 

Rodney Kent

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Personally, I think Laskey should and probably will be the starter. If Custis turns out to be really good, then he will probably be the backup. If he were to turn out to be head and shoulders above Laskey, then he will eventually become the starter.
 

Jerry the Jacket

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Good write up. I think Laskey will be the man this coming season if he can stay healthy. He is just a solid football player and would have made a great defensive player as well as a good running back. I hope Connors sticks around and plays this season. He is a solid back up here and a big contributor on special teams. To be honest, I don't see Snoody ever being a great B Back. He is a track guy that just has not been able to translate those skills to the D1 level of college football. I see him continuing in a very limited role for specific plays. Custis is the big unknown. He could be very good but you don't know until he gets out there. Time will tell. If Custis has problems then we will need to find another backup. Wilson would seem to be the most realistic candidate to move over from A Back. I know many have said that Days could play B Back but I think he just has too many ball security issues to entrust him as an every down back. I'm wondering if they may bring back Marcus Allen from the linebacker slot for another try at B Back. I think we will see a new candidate emerge at the B Back position that will move from where they are currently slotted, wheter it be Wilson, Days, Allen or someone else.

I'm hoping Thomas' ball handling skills will add to the productivity of the B Back position and not detract. That is a key element of how productive the B Back position can and will be.

Go Jackets!
 
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