Quarterbacks rule, but running backs are still important

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For the second straight season, no running back was drafted by an NFL team in the first round. The emphasis on evolving passing offenses is one of the reasons fewer NFL teams seem to want to invest big money on a running back, but so is the expected lifespan of a running back’s career. This most recent NFL Draft saw the longest wait before a running back was taken off the board, with Washington’s Bishop Sankey being the first running back selected with the 54th overall pick by the Tennessee Titans. Given the trends in how the game is played and the most recent draft results, could we start to see less of an emphasis on the running back in the college game as a result?

Running backs are still important to any football team, college or pro. Some teams in the college game will rely very little on running the football but the ability to pound the football and pick up a few yards on the ground is something that helps separate the great teams from the good or average teams. Take a look at Florida State, the reigning national champions. The Seminoles ranked third in the ACC in rushing offense in 2013, trailing only a Georgia Tech team that operates almost entirely on the run and a Boston College team that featured a Heisman finalist in Andre Williams rushing for over 2,000 yards. Florida State had a Heisman Trophy quarterback in Jameis Winston, but the supporting cast in the running game was not to be overlooked. Would Florida State have been able to succeed at the level it did in 2013 if not for a dependable running game? Probably, but it may not have been as dominant.

And look at the team Florida State faced in the BCS National Championship Game, Auburn. The Tigers ran away with the SEC championship, somewhat figuratively and literally. The strength of the running game allowed Auburn to wear down opponents and make-up for an average passing attack.

And do not let the 2014 NFL Draft fool you. There were 19 running backs drafted. There were even three fullbacks picked up by NFL teams through the draft, leaving a glimmer of hope for some that the days of the fullback are not extinct just yet.

A successful football formula has always included having a star quarterback behind a dependable offensive line. A top-flight running back may not be the ultimate difference — see Barry Sanders and the Detroit Lions — but it can still be a vital part of an offense.

Ohio State may get two defensive starters back in Week 8 vs. Purdue

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Ohio State’s injury-hit defense bent but didn’t break (too much) in a closer-than-expected win over Minnesota this past weekend.  With a matchup against a more potent offense in the offing this weekend, the Buckeyes appear set to be a helluva lot healthier on that side of the ball this coming Saturday than they were the last.

Both defensive end Jonathon Cooper and linebacker Malik Harrison missed the 30-14 win over the Gophers because each was in concussion protocol.  With Purdue looming in Week 8, Cooper and Harrison have been cleared and are expected to play against the Boilermakers.

Through six games and before last Saturday, Harrison’s 25 tackles were second on the team.  Cooper replaced All-American Nick Bosa, who underwent surgery after suffering a core muscle injury in Week 3 and could be sidelined for another month at least, in the starting lineup.

Another two defensive starters could be getting healthier as well.  From the Associated Press:

In addition, starting defensive tackle Robert Landers, who has been limited by an unspecified injury, is probable for the game, while starting cornerback Damon Arnette, who was hurt in the Penn State game, is questionable, Meyer said.

Purdue is currently 42nd in scoring offense (33.5 points per game) and 10th in total offense (510.2 yards per game).

Thanks to Georgia’s loss, Ohio State moved up to No. 2 nationally in both major polls.

All-Freshman B1G TE Louis Dorsey tweets transfer from Illinois

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As he announced on Twitter, Bennett Williams left Illinois earlier this month because of a dismissal.  Because of a decidedly different reason (?), the Fighting Illini has felt yet another personnel loss.

On the same social media website utilized by his former teammate, Louis Dorsey announced that he has “decided it is in my best interest to transfer and continue my career elsewhere.” Dorsey gave no specific reason for his midseason move.

Dorsey was suspended during the spring of this year for violating unspecified violations of team rules.  He was also suspended for the first three games of the 2018 regular season for the same reason.

As a true freshman in 2017, Dorsey led the Illini with three receiving touchdowns; was second in receiving yards with 395; and fourth in receptions with 22.  His 18 yards per reception were tops on the team.  BTN.com named the 6-6, 225-pound Dorsey to its All-Freshman Team for that performance.

Because of his off-field issues, Dorsey has played in just one game and not caught a pass this season.

Tennessee loses LB Jonathan Kongbo to torn ACL

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Heading into this weekend’s rivalry game against Alabama in Knoxville, Tennessee’s linebacking corps has taken a hit that will be felt for the rest of 2018.

Late in the third quarter of Tennessee’s huge Week 7 upset of Auburn this past weekend, Jonathan Kongbo went down with an injury to his right knee and didn’t return to the game.  Over the weekend, Jeremy Pruitt confirmed that Kongbo was diagnosed with a torn ACL.

Obviously, Kongbo, who is expected to undergo surgery at some point this week to repair the damage, will miss the remainder of the 2018 season.  As this was his final year of eligibility, it also means that this effectively ends the linebacker’s collegiate playing career.

The fifth-year senior had started five of the six games this season for the Vols.  In that half of the regular season, he had accounted for 11 tackles, four quarterback hurries and an interception.  The pick came in the second quarter of the upset of the Tigers.

Last season, Kongbo started 10 games.

After throwing and landing punches on Mizzou player, Alabama DL Raekwon Davis will lose playing time

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An on-field incident in Week 7 will cost Raekwon Davis on the field in the future.  Just when and how much remains to be seen.

During Alabama’s romp over Missouri this past weekend, the defensive lineman was caught by the all-seeing television broadcast eye punching (x3) Mizzou offensive lineman Kevin Pendleton.  Not only did the cameras catch him, but so did the officiating crew, who flagged Davis for unsportsmanlike conduct.

While Davis very publicly apologized to Pendelton, and the human punching bag very graciously accepted…

… there will be, after Nick Saban spoke with SEC commissioner Greg Sankey about the incident, playing-time repercussions for the lineman.

“We will have him do some things and I think it should affect his playing time in the future,” the head coach said.

Again, just what effect specifically the incident will have on Davis on the field is unclear.

Davis is currently sixth on the Crimson Tide with 27 tackles while his three tackles for loss are tied for sixth.  Alabama will face rival Tennessee, coming off a huge upset of then-No. 21 Auburn this past weekend, in Knoxville this coming Saturday.