As all Hog fans surely know, the running game hasn't exactly been bowling anyone over so far this season. Of course it's easy for armchair quarterbacks (or RB coaches, as the case may be) to diagnose the problem and propose solutions (our #1 suggestion: restore the final year of eligibility for Darren McFadden and Felix Jones), but how many of those sideline experts can boast that they were once the best RB in the SEC? Our guess is not too many.
So, when Michael Smith weighs in on the situation, we're inclined to take him pretty seriously. Not only does he have firsthand knowledge of what it takes to succeed on the ground against SEC defenses, he played two years under Bobby Petrino and knows how the man thinks.
Smith shared his thoughts (via the Slophouse blog) with a truly excellent report on the state of the running game that includes both overall impressions and specific breakdowns of the strengths and weaknesses of Broderick Green, Ronnie Wingo and Knile Davis. Here's a sample:
Every other position on the field has a definite starter; what makes the running backs so different? By naming a starter Petrino could gain some leadership and consistency that is much needed and lacking right now. Let one guy take the reins and let the others chase him.
We'll let you click through to the article to see who Smith recommends for the starting position, but he does have a definite opinion on that. And, lest you worry that all is lost, after dispensing some tough love he closes on a high note:
The reality of it is, it’s way too soon to be losing faith in the run game. Every single one of our backs came out of high school a 4-star recruit. They know how to run the ball and the talent will surface as Coach forces the issue. They are not lesser athletes so don’t expect them to be satisfied with the dismal numbers they have accumulated thus far.
Great stuff. And should you want a little more to read on Smith himself, be sure to check out Stephen's post on the man and his career from last fall.