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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

July 26, 2010 at 2:18 PM

Rating the running backs

polknd.jpg
We’ll continue our overview of the Pac-10 positions for this season with the running backs (and once again I’ll link ESPN.com’s Ted Miller’s rankings, which appeared the other day).
As noted earlier, I helped compile the ratings for Lindy’s Pac-10 pre-season preview magazine, and in this case, these ratings are the same as those that appeared in print.
The position ratings take into account the overall depth of the spot, but in the case of running back, hard to ignore simply how good the starter is, as well.
Here are the ratings from Lindy’s:
1, Oregon
2, Oregon State
3, Washington
4, Cal
5, USC
6, Arizona
7, UCLA
8, Stanford
9, Arizona State
10, Washington State
Oregon, with LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner back and hearlded recruit Lache Seastrunk coming in, may have the most depth in the conference.
OSU does not — (quick quiz: name OSU’s likely backup tailback — answer at the bottom). But you can’t quesiton Jacquizz Rodgers, and he’s good enough to put the Beavers at the second spot.
But UW is right there with the rest with the combination of returning 1,000-yard rusher Chris Polk (pictured at right against Notre Dame a year ago in a photo from Jonathan Daniel of Getty Images), a couple of backups who at least have some game experience (Johri Fogerson, Demitrius Bronson), and two exciting newcomers in Deontae Cooper and Jesse Callier.
As I’ve noted earlier, this seems like the deepest UW backfield since at least the 2000-01 era (Willie Hurst, Rich Alexis, etc.) and may prove to be the best since the mid-90s (Corey Dillon, Rashaan Shehee, etc.).
UW’s seeming depth has led a lot of readers to ask if that means the carries will be spread around more this year. The answer appears yes — the coaches have said whenever asked they envision Polk getting a little less work this year so that some of the others can get in the game. That said, Polk often seemed at his best the more he carried the ball, one reason they kept giving it to him a year ago, so we’ll see how it shakes out. Long-term, however, UW seems as healthy at this spot as it has been in years.
As for the overall conference, while the Pac-10 loses two of its most high-profile players at this spot — Stanford’s Toby Gerhart and USC’s Joe McKnight — this remains a strength. Rodgers is one of three returning 1,000-yard rushers (James and Polk are the others).
Also back is Cal’s Shane Vereen (952 yards filling in for Jahvid Best last year) and Arizona’s Nic Grigsby. USC has the tandem of Allen Bradford and Dillon Baxter. Stanford’s probably going to go the committee route to replace Gerhart, but has some good options (notably Jeremy Stewart, who had 11 carries for 67 yards against UW in Seattle in 2008 when Gerhart went down early with a concussion). UCLA and ASU each have some formerly highly-touted recruits on hand to try to improve their anemic attacks of a year ago. And WSU is hoping for a full recovery from one-time UW commit James Montgomery (though likely going the committee route as well).
This again should be a really good overall position for the conference.
And the answer is: Jovan Stevenson.

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