Monday, September 10, 2012

Could This Be The Greatest Running Game In Villanova History?

The common in Villanova's playoff runs from 2008-2010 was simple: All three teams had a prodigious ability to run the football. If they keep up their 248 yard per game rushing average from the first two games,(which includes an offensive 3.5 sacks given up per game,) this year's Villanova team will have more rushing yards in the regular season than they did in the 2009 National Championship season. Now it would be laughable to take one statistical category and proclaim this team is better than that (amazing) team at anything, and total rushing yards are (generally) a pretty crappy indicator of how good a team is at running the ball, but the stat is there and I'm running with it!

First: Let me qualify this by saying that I think the real key to the effectiveness of the 2009 Villanova offense was Chris Whitney's ability to throw efficiently.

The fact that other teams couldn't load the box so easily because Whitney was throwing over them to his phalanx of very good wide receivers. At the same time, the 2009 team was generally trying to protect some type of lead, so they used the ground game as a means of clock management. What that team did not have, is two running backs and a quarterback who were capable of long touchdowns. Whitney was good for six or seven every carry, so was Aaron Ball, and Angelo Babbaro but aside from Matt Szczur, there really wasn't a home run hitter running the ball. In 2012, there are at least three players who can consistently break runs of more than 30 yards: John Robertson, Austin Medley, and Kevin Monangai. I don't know if any of the three main options this season are as good at grinding out the intermediate yardage as the guys in 2009, but the players in 2012 are more explosive, and game-breaking ability in the running game is something that many teams sorely lack.

There is one advantage that the 2012 team does not have that the others did: The greatest run-blocking offensive line in school history. Judging by what has happened in the first two weeks, I don't know how much that matters, and it makes their achievements so far even more impressive.

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