London: Choices to make at running back

A hundred twenty teams in I-A. Virginia was 118th in total offense in 2009. A key reason for that – the Cavs were 112th in the nation in rushing (99.1 yards a game) and 114th in yards gained per rushing attempt (2.9 yards per attempt).

Remember the old line about three yards and a cloud of dust – yeah, the ‘Hoos couldn’t muster the three yards.

Mike London has a lot to work on with the 2010 Cavs. A focal point has been reviving the running game at UVa., which has in the past featured future NFL starts in the likes of Barry Word, Terry Kirby, Tiki Barber and Thomas Jones.

Don’t get too excited just yet. The leading returning rusher from a year ago is redshirt freshman Dominique Wallace, who ran for 49 yards in three games before suffering a season-ending knee injury at Southern Miss.

Wallace has looked good in training camp, London said on a teleconference with reporters on Tuesday. “He’s shown why he started some games last year. He’s very talented,” said London, who has also been “impressed” with senior Raynard Horne, whom London expects to contribute at the least on Virginia’s kick-coverage teams.

Across the board, the kids competing for time in the backfield have been adapting, London said, “to the role of, Hey, I may not be the tailback, but I want to get into the game and contribute in some sort of way.”

The wild card is true freshman Kevin Parks, who “has been everything everybody thought he would be coming out of high school,” London said of the 2010 Old Spice Red Zone National Player of the Year, whose 10,895 career high-school rushing yards ranks him third nationally all-time.

The issue is that coming out of high school, Parks has a steep learning curve. “You want to say, Go run the ball, but tailbacks also have to block and do other things,” said London, who has a choice to make about whether or not to redshirt Parks.

In addition to the choices that he needs to make relative to the depth chart in the backfield. London said today that the depth chart would be set by Monday heading into next week’s preparations for the season opener with Richmond.
 
 

Story by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at freepress2@ntelos.net.

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