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Roundtables: Running Back Depth.

Short-handed for the spring.

NCAA Football: Oregon State at California Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

There are only four running backs on the roster for Spring Football. How would you manage the reps between them?

Leland Wong: Patrick Laird is the entrenched starter and a known talent; behind him, Derrick Clark has 14 whole rushes, Biaggo Ali Walsh has none, and Alex Netherda has been changing positions throughout his entire Cal career. I think we should reduce Laird’s touches and focus on developing the talent behind him. Although every player would improve from getting practice (and Laird himself has said that he wants to maximize his reps), it would be riskier to have our entire run game hinge on him and have underdeveloped back-ups in the event of an injury.

TwistNHook: I agree with Leland Wong in this matter. I would love to see more of those other three backs, though, to see if we have anything special. My hope is we do. Laird played great last year, but having good change-of-pace options would be very helpful.

Piotr Le: Pat Laird, MVP, will 100% come in as the expected starter this Spring and Fall. However, I agree with Leland that we should give some of his reps to the younger guys. I have a feeling that once Johnny Adams and Chris Brown hit the campus, Clark might be sidelined. Ali Walsh has some good skills and had a whole year to put up some mass and strength in the weight-room. RB being a highly physical position will mean that there is a high chance that the Spring/Early-Fall depth chart will look differently. I am very hyped about what the newcomers can bring to the field. Adams has the ability to be as versatile as Tre Watson while having more of Khalfani Muhammad’s agility and explosive playability.

boomtho: I will plead ignorance a bit here—unlike QB reps, most writers don’t seem to cover how RB reps should be distributed, so I’m not sure I know enough to give an informed answer. Laird is clearly entrenched as the starter, but given the QB competition, it’s probably critical to get him reps with anyone who may end up winning the competition. The longer that drags on, the longer it probably means that the younger RBs are getting fewer reps than they might need.

Nick Kranz: Getting a sense of who’s in the mix for back-up carries has got to be one of the coaching staff’s major goals for spring ball, right? I’d expect that to be an area of emphasis. I suppose we can fairly ask: Is Patrick Laird the type of guy who can handle a Phillip Lindsay–esque workload? Colorado’s workhorse took 303 of the 337 (90%) total carries handed to running backs in Colorado’s offense. Laird had 237 total touches himself in 2017, so we’ve already gotten a sense of his ability to handle heavy expectations within an offense.