Before we try to conclude if a visible running game finally exists for the Falcons, let's at least enjoy the fact that they ran for nearly one-quarter of their entire 2010 total. That's just outstanding, but also saddening to remember how little work they caused the down markers last year. On the other hand, they also ran it down Idaho's throat. This was one of the Vandals' known weaknesses but they just kept pouring it on.
Still, this was completely unexpected. In fact, let's look at the Falcons rushing numbers from last year. The numbers are total carries, total yards and yards per rush, for your mathematical enjoyment:
Loss vs. Troy: 25 / 108 / 4.3
Loss vs. Tulsa: 25 / 41 / 1.6
Win vs. Marshall: 44 / 101 / 2.3
Loss vs. Michigan: 27 / 32 / 1.2
Loss vs. Buffalo: 25 / 9 / 0.4 (!!!)
Loss vs. OHIO: 37 / 137 / 3.7
Loss vs. Temple: 36 / 36 / 1.0
Loss vs. Kent: 24 / -10 / -.0.4
Win vs. CMU: 33 / 107 / 3.2
Loss vs. Miami: 27 / 44 / 1.6
Loss vs. Toledo: 23 / 35 / 1.5
Loss vs. WMU: 35 / 114 / 3.3
Win vs. Idaho last week: 48 / 187 / 3.9
Many of those yards came at the hands (and legs) of true freshmen Anthon Samuel, with whom you are suddenly familiar. Whether he's the feature back against Morgan State remains to be seen, but if he doesn't do it then it's probably going to be someone else like Jordan Hopgood who can wear down the Bears. Because I'm going to credit this one to the offensive line, who was starkly affected by injuries last year. When Ben Bojicic missed time starting with the Michigan game, the line just became akin to a tangled power strip with Dave Clawson continually plugging this large man into this large spot, and that helped result in the 120th best rushing attack. And Willie Geter wasn't terrible, either. He just couldn't shed the defense and use his speed.
Morgan State, a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference opponent, doesn't appear to be any better at preventing large amounts of rushing yards from appearing in the box score. I glanced at their loss last week against Towson, a historically inept team (picked last in the CAA). Not only did they lose 42-3 but they were destroyed on the ground game. Towson ran it 54 times for 264 yards — and they had two rushes of 30 and 32 yards, their only gains longer than 20 yards. This was a one-note offense that controlled the clock and kept MSU from touching the football.
If Clawson wants to put the game away in the first half, he's going to do the same thing. Run, run, run. I know he enjoys the passing game and the quarterback will get his yards, but essentially the can't-miss strategy is to imagine the Bears as Vandals, and continue accordingly.
On offense, I'm not entirely sure what's going to spew forth from the huddle. Here's what we know: last year MSU averaged only 216 yards per game. Last week two QBs split time: Donovan Dickerson and Robert Council, and their stats were very similar. Ex-Rutgers back Jourdan Brooks took the majority of rushes, averaging 3.2 ypc. Their primary receivers are Winfred Diggs and Lamont Bryant. They did get some tremendous kickoff returns courtesy of Tyrone Hendrix, who struck with 85- and 55-yards returns (The 85-yarder was on the opening drive, resulting in their only points.) And their best player, Lawrence Brewer, is an offensive lineman who was named to preseason first-team All-MEAC squads by the MEAC and Phil Steele.
Honestly, that's all I got. Any more vivisection of an FBS-FCS of this caliber and I'd be splitting hairs. I'm just excited to see if BG can get to 250 rushing yards in a game, which would be MAC porn.