Football analysis: Backs will carry load for Frogs

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    It’s no secret that the Frogs love running the football. The team ran the ball 642 times last season – the fifth highest total in the country – for 2863 yards and 39 touchdowns. The Frogs’ dedication to the ground game allowed the team to finish first in the country in time of possession at 35:10 per game.

    The offense’s commitment to running the football and controlling the clock helped the team find success on the other side of the ball as well. Last season the Frogs’ defense finished first in total defense, first in rushing defense and second in scoring defense at 11.3 points per game.

    Aside from the departure of Aaron Brown, who was second on the team in rushing last season despite missing three games, the Frogs’ ground attack remains largely intact heading into 2009.

    Senior Joseph Turner led the team in attempts, yards and rushing touchdowns in 2008 and should see his number called for a good portion of the carries in the upcoming season.

    Fellow senior Ryan Christian, perhaps the most versatile of the running backs, should also play a prominent roll in the Frogs’ ground attack in 2009. Christian, a dual threat out of the backfield, carried the ball 91 times for 386 yards last season and was the team’s second-leading receiver after catching 30 passes for 321 yards.

    Freshman Waymon James, a four-star prospect who hails from Sherman, could end up being the jewel of this year’s recruiting class. A redshirt year is probably in the cards for James, but an injury to another back or a strong showing in August practices could propel the talented youngster up the depth chart. The 5-foot-8-inch, 203-pounder was ranked as the second-best running back in Texas and the tenth-best back in the nation.

    The Frogs’ running attack wouldn’t be complete without a little help from the quarterbacks. Junior starting quarterback Andy Dalton and senior Marcus Jackson accounted for 816 of the team’s rushing yards last season. Their ability to run the ball will likely be put to use again in 2009.

    2009 projected starters: Joseph Turner, Ryan Christian

    Other running backs on the roster: Sophomore Jai Cavness, senior Chris Smith, redshirt freshman Edward Wesley

    Running backs lost: Aaron Brown, Justin Watts