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B10 Roundtable: Pre-Season Power Rankings - Week #2 - RB/FB

  • SpartanTailgate


    Last week was a successful debut for the Summer Roundtable. We had a good number of responses, and you can see where the Big 10 fans ranked the QB units for the conference below. I think this is going to end up being a lot of fun, and every Big 10 fan on 247 is welcome to participate, so feel free to jump in at any time.

    Here's the link to the previous week's roundtable in case anyone wants to read through it.

    Week #1 - QB Discussion:

    Here's the Roundtable Conference Power Rankings so far:

    ............................ QB......... RB/FB ........ WR/TE ......... OL........ DL ......... LB......... DB ......... ST........ Coaches





    Michigan State.....7




    Ohio State............1

    Penn State...........9



    This Roundtable is open to all Big 10 fans. Voting for the position groups stays open until Sunday evening, with the results posted that night or Monday.

    Up next is the running back/full back situation for each team. This DOES NOT INCLUDE DUAL THREAT QBs. With that in mind, please give a run-down of the running back/FB position for your team, including:

    1) Who's returning for your team (stats are appreciated)?

    2) How's the depth looking (provide a depth chart for the RB/FB position)?

    3) Are there reasons you expect improvement compared to last year, or reasons that the position may be worse off?

    4) Finally, please rate the RB/FB units as a whole in the conference, team by team, 1- 12.

    This post was edited by MalibuMan 13 months ago

    Michigan State does not and will not run the 3-4 defense.

  • 1) Returning RBs
    Fitz Touissant - 130 carries, 514 yards, 5 TDs
    Thomas Rawls - 57 carries, 242 yards, 4 TDs
    Justice Hayes - 18 carries, 83 yards, 1 TDs
    Dennis Norfleet - 2 carries, 13 yards, 0 TDs

    2) Depth Chart
    a. Toussaint
    b. Derrick Green
    c. Drake Johnson/Justice Hayes/Thomas Rawls/Deveon Smith

    3) Michigan's run game should improve this year. Last year the interior of the line was a mess, leading to a poor running game outside of Denard. The general thinking is that the interior can't get any worse, so the run game should improve somewhat. Toussaint also took a big step backwards last year, after a 1000 yard season the year before. He is coming off a broken leg, so he is a wildcard this upcoming season. The addition of touted RB Derrick Green should help in the running game. Overall, I believe the running backs will play better this year, but a lot of how they do is dependent on how well the interior of the line performs.

    4) I'll have to come back to this.

  • Badgers
    Coming back we got Melvin Gordon and James White along with Jeff Lewis, Vontee Jackson, and freshman Corey Clement. Gordon didn't get a lot of action last year but when he did he was lethal. In reality, Gordon is a much more talented back then White. I assume they will use White as a Percy Harvin kind of RB this year considering White gets owned inbetween the tackles. He needs to be used outside on the pitch or end around or as a slot WR. He's not going to run anyone over. On the other hand Gordon is a beast. He can do it all complete RB who will end up getting the majority of the carries by the end of the year "hopefully". Jackson and Lewis have been hurt a lot not going to expect much if anything out of them but then we come to Clement. I don't think he will redshirt he can play right away, can get some tuff yards if needed. I think he will get a lot of the garbage carries in games when we are blowing teams out in the 4th. If a injury occurs he can come in and handle himself fine can run between the tackles. We are deep at RB I expect this years running game to be on par with last years as long as the offensive line holds up. As for the rankings here we go.
    1. Wisconsin
    2. Nebraska
    3. Ohio St.
    4. Michigan
    5. Northwestern
    6. MSU
    7. Iowa
    8. PSU
    9. Minn

    This post was edited by curtrambus 13 months ago

  • Wolverine247


    To add on to A2Wolverines' post:

    1) Returning FBs
    Joe Kerridge (starter)
    Sione Houma

    2) Depth Chart
    Joe Kerridge (RS SO)
    Sione Houma (SO)
    Wyatt Shallman (FR)

    3) Since FB is a position entirely absent in RichRod's spread, all of Michigan's FBs are young, none having spent more than 2 years on campus. By virtue of his experience, Kerridge started in 2012 while Houma (the #4-#6 ranked FB in 2012, depending on which site you looked at) played on special teams and built up strength. The depth chart is just a guess at this point, as Houma has a much higher ceiling than Kerridge, and may take over the starting job depending on his development.

    In addition, 2013 brings ATH Wyatt Shallman, the #1-ranked FB according to some services. While Shallman is mainly coming in to be a big back (think Brandon Jacobs) it's very possible that he'll prove too talented to keep off the field, and FB would be a spot where his size (6'3", 245) and skill could allow him to contribute early. He's also a decent pass-catcher, and both Houma and Shallman would bring much more of an offensive threat to the FB position than Kerridge. In summary, Michigan has 3 solid options at FB, the main knock on them is that they're young and haven't had the benefit of 3+ years in a college S&C program.

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  • Bucknuts


    Carlos Hyde- 185 carries, 970 yards, 16 td
    The rest aren't really worth even mentioning, but if you are interested in a specific player, I'll get you the stats.

    Hyde will be the number one. The rest are pretty interchangeable, but I expect Rod Smith to be next to get touches, followed by Bri'onte Dunn and Warren Ball. That order will have to do with fall camp, and who has the hot legs. I still think Smith is the most talented of the four, just hasn't put it together.

    3) I'm expecting pretty comparable stats from Hyde, maybe a little better production from some of the back ups. Obviously Braxton Miller is going to eat up a lot of attempts, and also our wing backs will get carries too. The offensive line should be improved already from a pretty solid unit. So I'll go with slightly better than last year, but probably just less negative plays and more consistency.

    4) I'll have to get back to this one. Might be too hard to tell for some teams at this point.

    Our quarterback does front flips, suck it.

  • Damn, PSU has the third highest returning rusher (and he only played basically 9 games as opposed to 13/14 for the top 2 or he would have likely been 1st) and another returning RB plus a highly touted RS Frosh and they get ranked 8th? Harsh.

    This post was edited by shavisimo2 13 months ago

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  • SpartanTailgate


    For Michigan State.

    1. Returning RBs:

    Nick Hill (5'8 190) - 21 carries, 48 yards, 2.3 YPC 1 TD

    Jeremy Langford (6'0 208) - 9 carries, 23 yards, 2.6 YPC

    2) Depth Chart

    Great question. Neither Hill nor Langford separated themselves this spring. RS FR Nick Tompkins (5'9, 185ish) is a speed RB from UGA; he had 1 long run in the spring but didn't do a ton after that. RS FR LB Riley Bullough, (6'2 232), younger brother of starting MIKE Max, ended up being the primary RB in the spring game and looks to have the edge among the guys currently on the roster. He didn't look bad, but I don't think he's going to be a 25 carry/game workhorse that chews up 5.3 YPC or the like.

    That leaves 3 incoming FR as possible starters, each who have their own style: the bigger back (Delton Williams, 6'2 225), the balanced runner (Gerald Holmes, 6'1 205) and the speed guy (RJ Shelton, 5'11 185).

    My best guess is that MSU uses a 2, maybe 3 RB system; I feel that Tompkins and Bullough could both excel and 8-14 carry/game guys, but I think Tompkins' size makes it hard to project that he'll old up to any sort of pounding, and Bullough's general lack of break away speed would preclude him from being a true all around RB. Langford, Williams and Holmes have the best size/speed combos, but they're all unproven. Shelton seems the one most likely to RS.

    If the season started today, I think you'd see the 2 RS FR RBs (Bullough and Tompkins) get the most snaps, with one of the true FR joining the group. I'm fairly confident that Nick Hill will not be the starter.

    3) There are 2 ways to look at the loss of Le'Veon Bell and his 1,793 yards and 12 TDs worth of production. One is that replacing that production is something that one RB is highly unlikely to be able to do, and MSU doesn't have a clear starting RB on the roster who could even begin to carry that load. The other point of view is that MSU's rushing O was far from good last year (149.38 YPG ranked 75th nationally and 8th in the conference), so although having 1 RB replacing Bell is almost assuredly not going to happen, having 2 or 3 RBs meet or surpass his production is not out of the question (having 3 RBs with 600-800 yards rushing could generate around 160 YPG on the ground during a 13 game season).

    I'm a firm believer in this day and age of college FB that 2 RB systems are the best way to ensure good ground production. It's rare that a team with a true workhorse RB has an elite rushing O; usually there's a secondary RB chipping in 400-800 yards to bring the team's rushing yardage up around the 190-200+ YPG mark. MSU didn't trust any of the other RBs on the roster last year to compliment Bell, which led to a big season for Le'Veon, but a mediocre on the ground attack. This year, MSU is going to have to play multiple RBs just to figure out which few will get carries; the competition alone will ensure a more balanced distribution, at least in the early season.

    Another consideration is that Bell had no home-run capability; his longest run of the year was 40 yards, which also has marked the longest run by any MSU RB since 2010, but his longest TD run was just 14 yards. It's conceivable that one or more of the new RBs though not as consistent, could provide more of a speed threat, turning what for Bell were 20 yard gains into 50+ yard TDs.

    It's also conceivable that the new RBs, though maybe faster, won't even be able to generate the 3-4 yards that Bell was able to when there were no holes from the OL, thus making MSU worse-off on the ground. I'd consider this position about as unknown as any in the conference, and could see them generating their worst rushing total under Mark Dantonio (which would be under 130 YPG), or their second best (#1 was 198 YPG in 2007 and I don't think it's reasonable to think they can meet or surpass that mark).

    This post has been edited 2 times, most recently by MalibuMan 13 months ago

    Michigan State does not and will not run the 3-4 defense.

  • Especially when you look at the two that curtrambus ranked ahead of PSU. MSU and Iowa may have some nice RBs that we don't know about, but they don't return anyone.

  • I didn't know that. That is why I will be giving my rankings later in the week.

  • He's very different from your typical backs. A kid who rarely breaks off a big run so his YPC isn't great, but will almost always gain a couple positive yards. I guess it makes sense since he was the #1 fullback coming out of HS.

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  • Jackson may actually be the most talented back UW has if he gets back to preinjury level. If I'm not mistaken he was faster than Gordon by a little bit and far shiftier. A little more like a Brian Calhoun type back and we all remember how tough he could be to stop when he got rolling.

  • Penn State is probably going to be phasing out the FB position, and simply using TE's in the backfield if need be. I wouldn't be surprised to see guys like Kyle Carter and Brent Wilkerson doing damage coming out of the backfield (Carter already did that a lot last year).

    Penn State isn't all that deep at RB, but we do indeed return Zach Zwinak and Bill Belton. Akeel Lynch is a player I'm personally high on. He redshirted last year, but has good speed as a 210 pound back. Those will be the 3 main guys, with walk-on Deron Thompson filling in if they need him to do so.

  • Lions247


    This. I didn't wanna come across as a homer, but we return a 1000 yd rusher who did not play the entire season. This alone should warrant some discussion for us nearing (not necessarily at) the top.

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    "PSU a 3 to 4 win team" - New-era, September 2012

  • Running back Depth
    1.James White 5-10, 197, SR Rush:806 yds 12 TD Avg 6.4 Rec: 8 Rec for 132 yds 1 TD
    2.Melvin Gordon 6-1, 206, RS SO Rush:62-621 yds 3 TD Average 10.0 Rec: 2 Rec for 65 yds 1 TD
    3.Jeffrey Lewis 6-2, 210, RS JR Rush: 4-13 yds 1 TD Rec: 2 Rec for 65 yds 1 TD
    4.Vonte Jackson 6-0, 196, RS FR Redshirted due to knee injury
    5.Corey Clement 5-11, 205,True FR to red shirt or not to. Guessing he comes in over 205 and maybe needed for a bigger back presence.

    Full Back Depth

    1.Derek Watt 6-2, 227, RS SO - Rush: 2 for 5 yds O TD Rec: 12 Rec for 150 yds 0 TD guessing he somewhere around 235-240 now.

    Not sure of the depth behind him, because it is all Walk-ons
    Derek Straus 6-0 228 So
    Kevin MacCudden 5-11 225 So
    Jason Hengle 6-2, 230, SR

    Honestly i don't see much of a drop off, which seems crazy to say when you are replacing a 2nd round pick who broke the NCAA scoring record. First of the replacements are battle tested and Gordon may be the best we have had come through here. All that aside, there are some real changes in the scheme that will help as well. A major point of emphasis this off season was to incorporate the backs in the passing game. This is something most of us fans screamed for in the past and it makes even more sense given the top 2 backs. Another thing is that there will be some read option. not a ton, but just enough to keep the defenses on their heels. Couple that with QB play that can't be any worse than last year and the backs should see a boost. Overall the depth could be better than last year if Jackson proves healthy and Clement doesn't redshirt. I would be surprised if we saw 2 1000 yd backs. I guess i didn't even discuss the Oline, but it seems starter wise we should be decent to good. Depth an issue.

    Conference Ratings

    This was surprisingly hard at the top half.

    1.Wisconsin - They have the most returning and still have a pretty high ceiling.
    2.Nebraska - Between what they have with Abdullah/Cross and perhaps one of the young guys not redshirting this seemed like the spot. The offense is still going to be did Tmart improve or not for me, but they will get theirs.
    3.Northwestern - Wanted to put OSU here, but hard to ignore what Mark did last year.
    4.OSU - Depth wise i think they could be higher on the list
    5.PSU - I always love a work horse and it will be interesting to see how the dust settles on Zwinak.
    6.Michigan - could have switched them with PSU, but want to see how Fitz comes back and I am not as big of a Green fan as most. I liked Hayes during recruiting and wouldn't be surprised to see him take a step
    7.Minnesota - Kirkwood is the best (statistically) of the bottom half and there is no reason to think they wont pound him again
    8.Iowa - Not a huge Weisman fan as i thought he caught a lot of people by surprise last year, but I have been wrong before. Depth still a concern even with those coming back.
    9.MSU - I wanted to put them higher even with so much unknown. I know Tompkins is small, but i like him with the ball in his hands. I just can't figure them to be this low based on tradition and they have to help out Maxwell.
    10.Indiana - probably could be higher, but not sure who to knock down

    This post was edited by dustelli 13 months ago

  • I'd like to hear the logic behind this one, but there won't be any.

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  • It's Matt. He wouldn't know logic if it punched him in the face. He's already pretty much stated that his life goal is to be the biggest troll on tBB. I say, good luck to him!

    2. Nebraska
    3. OSU
    4. NW
    5. UM
    6. PSU
    7. Minn
    8. Iowa
    9. Indiana
    10. MSU
    11. Purdue
    12. Illinois

  • Other stuff already covered with Michigan.

    1. Wisky
    2. Nebraska
    3. Ohio
    4. NW
    5. Michigan
    6. PSU.
    7. Iowa
    8. Minny
    9. Indiana
    10. Sparty
    11. Purdue
    12. Illinois

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  • 1) Who is returning and what is the depth chart.
    1. Fitzgerald Toussaint, 5'10", 200lbs, RS Senior. Rushed for 514 yards, 4.0 ypc, and 5 TDs. Added 6 catches for 62 yards and a TD. Career wise has rushed for 1,642 yards, 5.1 ypc and 15 TDs. Fitz broke his leg in an ugly fashion last fall against Iowa. He was disappointing at that point in the since many were expecting bigger numbers following the 1,000 yard campaign in 2011. He participated in spring non-contact drills and is expected to be 100% for fall ball.
    2. Derrick Green, 6', 220lbs, Freshman. #1 RB recruit in the nation according to Rivals and Scout. High expectations for the freshman, but that happens when you are considered one of the best at the position and it is the position that maybe the easiest for freshmen to come in instantly and make an impact.
    3. Thomas Rawls, 5'10, 217lbs, Junior. Rushed for 242 yards, 4.2 ypc, and 4 TDs. Career 321 yards, 4.6 ypc and 4 TDs. Rawls isn't a flashy RB, he hits the hole hard, hits who is in front of him hard, and actually has some good top end speed if runs over those in front of him. Solid option this deep in the bench.
    4. Deveon Smith, 5'11", 211lbs, Freshman. 4* RB to every site except Rivals. Looks like a bowling ball that defenders bounce off of. Lacks top end speed. Reminds me of Mike Hart with initial burst, balance and lack of top end speed. Could RS.

    3rd down backs,
    1. Justice Hayes, 5'10", 190lbs, RS Soph. Consensus 4* who lacks the size to be an everydown back for Michigan. Started the spring game which could be a good sign for him. I expect him to get the 3rd most touches for the season behind Toussaint and Green.
    2. Dennis Norfleet, 5'7", 168lbs, Soph. 4* to every site except ESPN. His main role is KR and could end up being PR also this season. Most fans want to see him involved in the offense somehow with how explosive he looks with the ball in his hand. Finally saw it in the spring game where he made a 5th year senior LB grap at air while trying to tackle him.

    1. Joey Kerridge, 6', 241lbs, RS Soph, walk-on. Was the #1 FB last year and started the spring the same way. The FB wasn't used much until Denard went down last fall but is now going to be a main stay in the offense. Little to no threat in the running game or receiving but is a solid blocker and at picking up blitzes.
    2. Sione Houma, 6', 220lbs, Soph. On of the to FBs coming out of HS, saw time on special teams. We will see if can pass the walk-on.
    3. Wyatt Shallman, 6'3" 245lbs, Freshman. 4* to every site except ESPN. Interested on how he will be used, RB/FB/H-Back. Solid athlete for his size.

    3) Expect improvement or a step back compared to last year.
    Strictly from the RB position, I expect improvement. Toussaint will be healthy and he knows that there is a stud recruit coming in to take his position. The question mark is the shift from a spread option to the Manball attack that Hoke wants. The running numbers as a team maybe down, but the offense as a whole should be better with this offense. I expect an improved oline also, but we will get to that.

    RB rankings, subject to change.

    1. Wisconsin
    2. Nebraska
    3. Michigan
    4. tOSU
    5. NW
    6. PSU
    7. Indiana
    8. Minnesota
    9. Iowa
    10. Illinois
    11. MSU
    12. Purdue

  • Rocky's said it all for MSU, and I do agree Tompkins and Bullough could thrive if they each got 8-12 carries a game. There's also three talented frosh coming in to compete for carries, so if one of them is decent, the MSU run game should be fine. As Rocky also pointed out, even though Bell was a man, MSU's rush game as a whole wasn't that great and only contributed for 13 TDs.


    1. Nebraska
    2. Wisky
    3. NW
    4. OSU
    5. PSU
    6. Iowa
    7. UM
    8. Minnesota
    9. MSU

    B1G really lacks in this department IMO. Think there is a clear top 2 with Wisky and Nebraska. Like what NW did LY and PSU returns a decent amount. Weisman is proven so Iowa gets the nod there. If you take out Denard's rushes when DG was QB, UM averaged 3.4 ypc. MSU has so much depth, but so little known. IU would be spot or two higher if they didn't throw it a ton.

  • Wolverine247


    Pretty much how I feel about OSU LBs. There's a guy who has alopecia and... shrug

    Is Storm Klein still around?

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  • Lots of dismissal of OSU running game huh?
    Hyde missed 2 games and ran for 970 even with a 1000yd QB running ahead of him. We return 4 starting OL on an already solid unit. Talent coming in from Eze Elliott to push Rod Smith and Dunn. Without Burkhead I don't think Abdullah will be as effective.

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    Gateway to Heaven on Earth

  • I know that soft swiss cheese D that kept that well oiled Borges machine on his own half of the field for the entire second half last year confused
    Don't worry Shazier doesn't need you guys to remember him as he cashes his NFL paycheck in a year or so.

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    Gateway to Heaven on Earth

  • As of now... 1.Wisc 2. Neb 3. Ohio St.

    I can see Ohio St rushing game being very good this year and maybe being the best in the B1G with Hyde and Smith, combined with Brax and the improved (from what we've heard, but can't be much worse than last year's) passing game.

  • There are plenty of other threads to troll in. Stay on topic or stay out.

  • SpartanTailgate


    FWIW, this Roundtable only covers the RBs, not dual threat QBs. Just like the QB Roundtable wasn't a referendum on your passing game as a whole, this one isn't a review of your team's entire ground game, just the RBs on your roster.

    Now, for some schools, their ground game and RBs might be synonymous with each other, and that's cool. I just think it's a little bit of "double dipping" to count your QB's running abilities in the QB section and then again in the RB section (unless your guy lines up at RB, like Denard did for UM).

    Hope that clears things up. To that effect, I have little doubt that tOSU will put up some big #s on the ground this year, but I don't think the vast majority will be coming from the RBs. Contrast that with Wisconsin, who may come up 10-20 YPG behind tOSU in terms of overall rushing O, but almost all those yardage will be from their RBs. That's why, personally, I'd put Wisconsin's RBs over tOSU's. Not sure where they both fall within the conference yet . . . .need more info on other teams.

    Michigan State does not and will not run the 3-4 defense.

  • I know its about the RB's, I'm saying Brax will open up the holes in the middle by running and passing on the outside.

    My bad if I didnt make that clear