ORLANDO - While there’s concern about Isaiah Bowser since he left the game against Louisville in the third quarter, UCF’s running back depth chart looks to be very good based on the first three games.
No word on Bowser’s injury just yet, so let us assume that he is at the very least limited with his production for the time being. Here’s a look at what UCF has proven with its rushing attack, and then break it down to running backs beyond Bowser.
Through those three games the Knights ran for 757 yards, for a 252.3 yards per game average. Now, assuming the worst scenario of Bowser not being able to play when the Knights travel to Maryland to take on Navy this Oct. 2, there’s something else to consider.
Against Louisville, Bowser only ran six times for 37 yards. For that particular game, two other UCF running backs, plus Dillon Gabriel and Joey Gatewood, combined for 175 yards on the ground. Here’s a breakdown of the UCF rushing attack from the Louisville game:
Just evaluating the two running backs that came in for Bowser, they accounted for 152 yards from only 17 carries. That’s an 8.9 yards per carry average. Talk about production.
UCF running backs Johnny Richardson and Trillion Coles did their jobs well. Those two running backs, and possibly one other (see below), provide hope for the Knights during the short-term until more is known about Bowser’s health. There’s also the possibile scenario of both of these young men being long-term solutions, working in a rotation at running back, based on their performances so far this season, the Louisville game in particular.
The Inexperienced Talent Proved Itself Against the Cardinals
Whether it was Richardson darting through the middle of the defense with his explosive speed and juke moves, or Coles making jump cuts and grinding out yards after contact, the Knights have two running backs that proved they can be lead running backs.
While more evidence probably needs to be seen regarding Mark Antony-Richards as a primary running back playing within an offensive scheme that likes to grind out yards between the tackles, his small sample size prior to the Louisville game produced solid results to date as well. He’s also 6’1”, 215 pounds, built for the type of power running that Bowser is known for.
Looking at the group overall, there’s plenty of talent. Maybe they will be needed in the immediate future, perhaps not. Here are the Statistics for UCF running game through three games:
Size Alone Does Not Define These Two Running Backs
It’s not like Richardson will suddenly be a bruiser; he’s 5’7”, 170 pounds. His size may limit Richardson from 20 carries during any one game, fair enough. He can still catch the football out of the backfield and carry the football 10 to 12 times per contest.
That’s exactly the same situation with Coles. He’s really tough between the tackles despite being similar in size to Richardson at 5’8”, 170 pounds. Now, if Antony-Richards proves he deserves more carries, it helps the situation further.
Based on his history as a play caller while being at Auburn, there’s no doubt that UCF Head Coach Gus Malzahn likes to run the ball between the two tackles, and Antony-Richards could be the guy for the job. That’s a situation to monitor. There’s also one additional scenario that should excite Coach Malzahn and UCF fans.
When Bowser Returns
If Bowser is ready for the Navy game, great! If not, the aforementioned running backs will be there to carry the football. Combining Bowser's talents with Richardson, Coles and Antony-Richards is exciting, and that’s something to look forward to no matter which exact game it comes about.
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