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Cal Football Spring Game: Running Back Roundtable

DSC_1919 (via <a href="">ja_williams</a>)
DSC_1919 (via ja_williams)

While the QB competition wasn't nearly as interesting as it probably could have been this spring (the pecking order is pretty clearly established), there could be a very interesting battle at running back. Anderson looks miles better than he did last season, and he ripped off some dynamic bruising runs against pretty good defense. Over seven yards per carry in the spring game is damned impressive, particularly facing a lot of the first unit defenders. I didn't feel terribly comfortable with Anderson last year because he ran into the pile a little too much, but he looks a lot more decisive in his runs and looks much harder to bring down this season. He honestly looks like he could be ready to go all J.J. on us.

Sofele didn't do anything out of the ordinary--he performed well on the outside and did okay on the inside. Still a great pass blocker. Nothing out of the ordinary. I'm starting to think Anderson on the inside and Sofele on the outside could provide a lot more dynamism to the offense.

The other running back I saw a lot of was Yarnway, and he's settled into that H-back spot. It's really an appropriate place for him. He provides an additional running dimension to deal with on short-yardage situations (a place we have not been very good at for about a half-decade. But what really impressed me was how well he hauled in catches. A pass-catching H-back is something we haven't had since...Manderino? If Yarnway does this season what he does in the spring game, I feel we'll be very pleased.

The biggest question with Anderson is how good is his pass blocking skills, something both Gould and Tedford value. If they're locked down, I feel he should start grabbing a majority (or at least a split with Sofele) of the overall snaps.

How do you guys feel?

TwistNHook: Avi, I had a somewhat higher estimation of Isi. I thought he looked pretty good out there. He had a really cool spin move, IIRC, also.

Anderson did look good last year and he was really coming on strong at the end of the season. I hope that he can continue to build on that moving forward in 2012. He is one of my favorite players on the team and I hope he has a break out season!

We're loaded here. Sofele looked shifty and showed off a little more pop when lowering his shoulder. CJ looks quicker than last year. He still has great vision, balance, and toughness, but now he looks to have added a turbo button.

Bigelow has shed his knee brace and wowed the crowd with a spin move that left the defender grasping air. Didn't have enough carries to really see what he could do.

Lasco runs a bit upright, but has some moves and speed to go along with his power. He may not break into the depth chart this year, but he's going to be one to watch moving forward.

Yarnway did a really nice job at fullback. He converted on short yardage situations and showed a nice set of hands out of the backfield. It was great to see him healthy and able to be out on the field again. Depending on how this position plays out, he could win the starting job during fall camp.

HydroTech: I don't think anything we saw in the spring game really changes things. Sofele will be the #1 back, and Anderson will be the #2. I know Anderson had some great runs and had a great average, but I think he also benefited from some great run blocking and play design. That touchdown run he had was a leisurely stroll through the park. The defense completely parted before him due to the end around threat the offense showed pre-snap. I'm pretty sure any of us could have scored on that touchdown run. As for CJ's other runs, he did a fine job from what I could see.

TwistNHook: I definitely could not have scored on the TD run!

atomsareenough: At this point, there isn't a doubt in my mind that Isi is the nominal starter, and he will be the starter at the beginning of the season. Anderson was very good in the spring game, and I wouldn't be the least surprised if he started to eat into Isi's carries a bit, as he had started to do by the end of last year, but Isi is going to be the main guy at the beginning. But no matter how the carries are distributed, I feel very confident in our stable of RBs. I was pleasantly surprised by Lasco as well. The kid runs hard. After the game, Tedford said he's still bothered by his hamstring, and wasn't as explosive as he usually is, and if that's Lasco lacking explosiveness, I can't wait to see the fully healthy version. Bigelow looks like he's finally going full speed, but he had a bad fumble, and he never was really able to get out in space, so I don't think we really really got to see his best self. I'm excited to see him in game action, though.