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Few running backs have the explosive ability of Johnny Richardson. The junior from Lake Wales, Fla. is truly dynamic and deserving of more touches despite the talent that’s also a part of the UCF Knights offense.

Isaiah Bowser leads the Knights in rushing attempts so far in 2022 with 50. Head coach Gus Malzahn likes to establish him with the inside power game, especially early in contests. Bowser was a key piece of UCF’s 2021 offense and is a driving force at times, especially in short yardage situations. He has five touchdowns so far in 2022.

In 2022, there has been a drop off in production. Bowser's yards per carry has dropped from 4.4 to 3.2, including 2.5 yards per carry versus the Florida Atlantic Owls this past weekend. Bowser is still a guy Malzahn and his staff will want to use often, but more of Richardson could be another option to consider.

Here are Richardson's game-by-game rushing totals:

South Carolina State: Five carries for 59 yards, an average of 11.8 yards per carry.

Louisville: Five carries for 47 yards, an average of 9.4 yards per carry.

Florida Atlantic: 11 carries for 79 yards, an average of 7.2 yards per carry.

All three games saw explosive plays from Richardson as a runner. Combining his statistics, Richardson has 185 yards and a ridiculous 8.8 yards per carry. Obviously 8.8 yards per carry is not sustainable, but the 5-foot-7 and 170-pound running back finds holes and explodes through them. Richardson has proven that for well over a year now.

In 2021, Richardson led UCF with 733 yards and a 7.1 yards per carry average. He scored three rushing touchdowns. Do not forget about Richardson in the passing game either.

UCF Running Back Johnny Richardson versus East Carolina in 2021

Go Johnny Go!

He had the long reception called back against Louisville due to a penalty, but he's still valuable out of the backfield. Richardson has seven catches for 58 yards, an 8.3 average, and a touchdown this season.

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Now, Bowser is still a very important part of this dynamic offense, especially at the goal line. But there evidence that Richardson could help the offense be even more explosive than it already is.

When his touches increased vs Florida Atlantic, he helped UCF light up the scoreboard for 40 points. To be fair, 50 of Richardson’s 79 yards came on one single carry, but that is what getting him the ball can do. It’s unlikely that Bowser will produce a 50-yard run based on his history.

He’s the power running back that helps set up Richardson, dual-threat quarterback John Rhys Plumlee, and other skill players to have more touches in space. For that, Bowser is quite valuable. The Knights work off of Bowser and Richardson is a major component of that concept.

It is possible that there is something scheme-related that also keeps the ball out of Richardson’s hands. It could be that UCF already has a speedster that can take off at any time in Plumlee, and that a bruising running back like Bowser complements him well. 

That is a valid argument on paper, but so far the running game has been less impactful when Richardson is not consistently getting his hands on the football.

There is no better time to test out how impactful Richardson can be with more carries and/or receptions than against the next opponent, Georgia Tech. This team comes into Saturday’s game near the bottom in every major college football statistical category on both offense and defense.

For Richardson, maybe it is just two or three additional touches that leads to an 80-yard touchdown and helps the Knights knockout the Yellow Jackets prior to halftime.


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