Column: Running backs' lost carries might be least of Kansas' worries

Monday, August 25, 2014

Free State High football coach Bob Lisher listed qualities he liked about Joe Dineen as a running back during his junior season when he raised one interesting point that could apply to others.

“He’s elusive, yet he’s strong,” Lisher said of Dineen, who moved from a safety and red-shirt candidate to third on Kansas University’s depth chart at running back after season-ending injuries to Brandon Bourbon and Taylor Cox. “And he’s explosive. He can accelerate. Once he sees an opening, he can get through it pretty quickly. He’s worked extremely hard in the weight room to get bigger and stronger. Joe’s a tough kid.”

Lisher then said, “The one thing he might be behind on is blitz-pickup from the running-back position. We didn’t have him do a lot of that.”

As soon as Lisher said that, I wondered if the same could be said for true freshman Corey Avery and junior-college transfer De’Andre Mann. Probably so. For that reason, it’s possible Cox and especially Bourbon actually could be missed more in the passing than running game.

Avery and Mann have made big impressions in camp.

Freshman center Jacob Bragg competed in the 2014 Under Armour All-America Game with some of the nation’s most talented prospects. He marveled at the athleticism of teammates and opponents. Asked to name a Kansas newcomer with similar knock-your-socks-off ability, the first name to roll of Bragg’s tongue came as no surprise.

“Definitely Corey, without a doubt,” Bragg said. “He can make any cut he wants to. It’s honestly amazing to see in practice. People don’t know yet how really good he is. Another guy would be De’Andre. He’s just like Corey, but a little thicker, a lot stronger.”

Barring additional injuries, running the football shouldn’t be a problem — especially with Montell Cozart making the defense account for him as a running threat — as long as the beefy offensive linemen don’t become prematurely exhausted because of the faster pace of the offense.