As HottyToddy.com sports looks ahead to the 2014/15 season and the opener against Boise State in the Chick-fil-A Kick-off Game in Atlanta, it’s time to look at the state of the Rebels running backs.
Even with a high-flying aerial assault, a good football team always needs a healthy ground game, including a power component. Even though the Rebels say farewell to senior running-back Jeff Scott, Coach Hugh Freeze and his staff have a stampede of tailbacks ready to bolt out of the stables.
Two key backs from last season who return in red and blue are I’Tavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton.
Mathers had a very productive off-season and spring session. He looks very much like a No. 1 back heading into next season and Coach Freeze has praised him regularly. Mathers has worked primarily with the first-string offense.
In the Grove Bowl, Mathers carried the ball four times for 121 yards. He reeled off a 96-yard scamper among those carries.
Coach Freeze on Mather’s brilliant performance in the spring finale.
I’Tavius Mathers is just special,” Freeze said. “We’ve got some good backs. Today he made a phenomenal run. On Friday, in practice he made a run where he made two guys miss in space. That guy has improved. I’m excited about a lot of those backs.”
During the spring, a plethora of young talented running backs made noise at the tailback position.
Eugene Brazley had an attention-earning Grove Bowl performance. He rushed for 28 yards on six touches. Brazley’s longest run netted 11 yards.
Kendrick Doss, a bigger back than the usual scat-back Rebel model, used quickness and strength to move north and south off of the line of scrimmage. Doss finished the Grove Bowl with four carries for a net gain of 13 yards. Unfortunately the improving Rebel defense caught Doss behind the line for 14 yards in losses.
Jordan Wilkins had a strong spring and an impressive Grove Bowl. He carried the ball seven times for 26 yards with a nine-yard haul for his longest of the day.
Mark Dodson, who played sporadically last season to give Mathers and Walton a breather, has shown growth heading into next season, picking up more of the offense. In the spring game, Dodson had two touches gaining 10 yards.
Walton did not see action in the spring game this year.
As the book on spring football closes, the next chapter in the Rebel journey nears with summer practice beginning in July. Whoever makes the grade to line up beside Bo Wallace will be a constant threat to score and a perfect complement to the Rebels precision passing attack.
–Adam Brown, sports editor of HottyToddy.com
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