When looking for words to define a football team’s running back situation, you’d hope to have the luxury of using words like “stable,” “set” or “fixed.”
For UC Davis, you could use “an embarrassment of riches.”
“We’ve got a lot of depth at that position,” coach Bob Biggs said.
That could be an understatement.
The Aggies’ Four Horsemen (Joe Trombetta, Josh Reese, Brandon Tucker and Corbin Cutshaw) rushed for a combined 1,409 yards and 16 rushing touchdowns. Each running back led the team in rushing for at least one game, and averaged 4.4 yards per carry or better.
Trombetta rumbled for 119 yards against Sacramento State. Cutshaw and Reese had 176 and 142 total yards, respectively, against Iona. Tucker went for 175 total yards and a touchdown against Northeastern.
“I wouldn’t say there’s one guy that’s the key guy,” Biggs said. “It’s going to be running back by committee because we have some talented players and we need to keep them fresh.”
Trombetta led the team in rushing yards (547), Tucker led the team in rushing touchdowns (six), Reese led the team in rushing average (5.2 yards/carry) and Cutshaw had the strongest single-game yardage showing (176 total yards).
Each one of the running backs can contribute, but there’s still a clear starter.
“Joe’s still our starter,” Biggs said, “but Josh Reese has done nothing to hurt his opportunities next year.”
Reese had a strong showing during the Blue and Gold scrimmage and throughout spring practice, regularly cutting back for substantial gains against the defense.
“I thought [Reese] did real well [in the Blue and Gold scrimmage],” Biggs said. “He’s had a great spring.” The Aggies’ running back situation might even have to make room for a fifth contributor.
Jordan Brown, a junior transfer from Sacramento City, impressed coaches with his ability to stay in the mix against the attacking zone blitz of the UC Davis defense.
“I thought Jordan did a great job against the stunts and blitzes they were showing,” Biggs said.
Trombetta saw limited action during the scrimmage due to an ankle sprain and Tucker sat out with an injury as well.
With their depth at running back and the talent of each player already apparent, the Aggies will try their best to improve on last year’s rushing numbers. They finished fourth in the Great West Conference in rushing yards.
Will they all receive equal playing time?
“Well, potentially,” Biggs said. “Who knows? Who knows how that will go?”
Fortunately, the offensive load doesn’t lie entirely with the stable of running backs.
Greg Denham returns at quarterback for the Aggies, along with two of his favorite targets at wide receiver: Chris Carter and Bakari Grant.
RICHARD PROCTER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.