It is well-known by now by most Oklahoma State fans that the running game had to improve this offseason if this team wanted to do great things. There are currently 5 legitimate contenders at the running back position, but none did a whole lot to separate themselves from the pack during the first game against Southeastern Louisiana. The depth chart really is pretty fluid as it stands now, with no clear-cut primary option having risen to the top. Let’s examine this position war (it’s beyond a battle at this point) and see where these guys currently stand.
1) Barry J. Sanders
Last week: 4 car, 1 yd, 1 TD; 1 rec, 18 yds; 1 PR, 57 yds
Barry J.’s glorious debut really has the fans excited about what he can do this season. He didn’t do much by way of running the ball, but he also didn’t get many chances at it either. BJS did convert a short touchdown, as well as hauling in a good grab for 18 yards in the game, but what really has people talking is the near touchdown on his one punt return on the day. He immediately flashed the moves and speed that explained why the coaches put him back there to start the season, and it was probably the most exciting play of a rather drab game all-around. If he wants to keep his momentum going, he needs to get it going running the ball in the flow of the offense next week.
2) Chris Carson
Last week: 4 car, 18 yds, 1 TD; 1 rec, 8 yds
We know this about Chris Carson already: he is a serviceable running back. But in all honesty, he hasn’t shown much more than that. This probably wasn’t a great sample size of touches in this game, but he really looked like the same guy we saw from last year. He has just decent speed, average moves, but he does carry some power with him that will make him a piece of this offense for the rest of the season. That said, it would be surprising if he really broke out as a star for this team.
3) Justice Hill
Last week: 7 car, 30 yds; 1 rec, 6 yds
Hill is the ultimate wild card in this race, and he looked pretty good in his touches on Saturday. Sure, he didn’t break a big play, but you could see right when he got the ball that he looked confident and ready to play on this level. A few months ago, he wasn’t even on the radar for fighting for this starting job, yet he received the most carries of all the running backs during Week 1. Maybe he doesn’t fully blossom this season, but the true freshman looks like a real potential star for this program for years to come. He will also benefit from the bevy of experience that he has placed around him.
4) Jeff Carr
Last week: 6 car, 42 yds, 1 TD; 1 rec, 4 yds
I am a big fan of Jeff Carr, and based on his performance you would think he would be higher on this list. But his carries were really all in garbage time, so he’ll need more significant touches if he wants to make a move in this race. That said, Carr is a great player for this team to have; he’s simply a playmaker with great speed, and the Cowboys have great use for him all over the field. Unfortunately that use most likely won’t be as an every-down back, but you still can’t rule the young man out. You get the sense that this program will be going with Justice Hill and Carr in the future, which sounds like a very electric duo if they are given time to further progress.
5) Rennie Childs
Last week: 3 car, 21 yds
Unfortunately, I think Rennie is on the outside looking in right now. He is the only player on this list that has been with the program for at least two seasons, yet he finds himself near the bottom as a senior. To be honest, his opportunity to be a premier player looks to have come and gone. That said, he can provide veteran leadership to the team if he has his head on straight, and he will still get his number called on occasion, so all he can do is stay prepared. Childs has worked hard for this program, but it doesn’t look like it will translate into on the field glory.
This is something everybody will have their eyes on in the coming weeks, and with the level of competition rising, we will find out more about these guys every week. If one can step up and grab the job by the reigns, the offense will just become a lot more dangerous.