Fragile running backs

Submitted by iawolve on October 1st, 2010 at 11:56 AM

I know, I know, walk around Iowa City if I want to have a running back conversation. Maybe I just pay closer attention to UM than other teams, but it seems like we are on a roll with nicked up running backs the last few years. It could be coincidence, bad luck, I don't know, but it seems as we lessened the workload per back we are counterintuitively ending up with less productive time per back due to injury. Maybe we were lucky in the many years previous where we tended to feature mostly a single workhorse back that pretty much carried the rock all the time (yes Hart had some ankle issues but look at his total number of carries over his career). If you additionally consider our special field turf that should lessen injury risk, this makes even less sense. Not sure if anyone has any hypothesis on this trend.



October 1st, 2010 at 12:00 PM ^

It is not that we have lessened the workload of our backs over the years and then they got injured - the injuries were the cause of the reduced workload.  See, for example, Minor, Brown.  As for this year, our only RB to get nicked up is Shaw (Fitz was hurt coming into the season). 


October 1st, 2010 at 12:01 PM ^

I would wager that every member of the M football team that has seen action has some kind of bruise, bump, strain, or pull.  That's football.  I think it's more a reflection of depth that the staff will let guys lighten their load and heal up some. 

Magnum P.I.

October 1st, 2010 at 12:06 PM ^

I think it's a interesting point. Most people will respond: "It's football. People get hurt." But your question in asking why we've had more injuries than most the past few years is fair. It seems like we've just had bad luck having guys at RB who are injury-prone. I don't even know what injury-prone means, though, as it's often not a recurring injury that plagues the guys like Brown, Minor, Shaw, and Toussaint who seem to be perpetually hurt. I'm not saying those guys need to toughen up at all, but I wonder what makes a guy just more prone to injury than others. Running style? Strength and conditioning? Genetics?

I don't know, but it has been frustrating to see our top backs suffer from so many different smallish nick ups the past few years.


October 1st, 2010 at 12:18 PM ^

But your question in asking why we've had more injuries than most the past few years is fair.

Every year, every team experiences a banged-up position or two.  Sometimes it's more pronounced than other times (See: Angry Iowa Running Back Hating God, circa 2010). And sure, the RB position has been a fricking trauma ward for the last season and a half.  But the O-Line and D-Line have remained remarkably healthy.  I don't think that's because the coaches are doing something better with the O-Line than with the running backs.  I think it's about the fact that sometimes when you plant a foot, the chamber is loaded and you become Antonio Bass or Troy Woolfolk.

As for why INDIVIDUAL guys get hurt more frequently (Carlos Brown, Junior Hemingway), that is a question I'm not capable of answering.

Doctor Wolverine

October 1st, 2010 at 12:08 PM ^

It seems like we are recruiting more for speed rather than power now too.  The good news is that they have the potential to break it open on any given play...the bad news is they aren't quite as durable, IME.


October 1st, 2010 at 12:30 PM ^

We are looking for a physically different type of person where we would include a McGuffie and Smith into the mix the last few years. Sam's issue with a concussion was different and had a terrible running style that allowed him to get killed. Minor due to his size is an anomaly to this theory. The next question is if we are looking at more of the same over the next few years. No idea.

Blue boy johnson

October 1st, 2010 at 12:14 PM ^

Maybe the majority of running backs are incapable of staying healthy while getting the bulk of the carries in an offense. So, if you have a workhorse back, effective carrying the ball 20-25 times a game, he enables the rest of the backs to stay healthy, by keeping them relatively inactive.

If we had a Chris Perry on this team, we might be ignorant of the fragility of our other backs, or not even be concerned when a freshman like Toussaint was battling nagging injuries.


October 1st, 2010 at 12:32 PM ^

That our backs are involved in more aspects of the offense than past backs? Our RBs are all expected to be key blockers on both passing and running downs as well as be receivers, particularly on screens during which they can get lit up if the D reads it/blocking breaks down, and of course they carry the rock. I dunno, I'm no expert on schemes and such, but this is just an innocent, ignorant theory.


October 1st, 2010 at 1:55 PM ^

 In general, our tailbacks function as lead blockers far more often that tailbacks in other programs, both for Denard and for other backs when we come out in 2 back sets. Shaw, after all, got injured while lead blocking on a Smith TD run. While the cause of his injury, a leg whip from a player he wasn't engaged with, was kind of a freak incident, our backs in general will be in positions as blockers that most tailbacks aren't.


October 1st, 2010 at 1:20 PM ^

As bad as it seems, I still think we are very fortunate to have some depth at QB and RB. Look at Iowa and Purdue: Iowa literally has one proven RB left uninjured. Purdue has lost their top QB, RB, and WR, with almost no other viable options. 


October 1st, 2010 at 3:18 PM ^

It seemed like one guy was helped off the field after every play.  I think the game is sooo fast now that the opportunity for injury is so much greater with bigger, stronger, faster players.  But, I must admit, it seems that more guys are getting wicked leg injuries this season due to "getting rolled up on".


October 2nd, 2010 at 12:39 PM ^

I think our team physicians are a little more conservative than some other teams'.  Brandon Minor would have given an arm and a leg to play against OSU last season, but he wasn't cleared.  Maybe another team's doctors would have.  Notre Dame's apparently don't have that high a standard of health, given that they clear guys with blurred vision in one eye.