Posted by: John Moss, Tulsa's Channel 8 Sports - email
There’s a known commodity at running back for the Golden Hurricane entering the 2013 season. However, there has still been plenty of interest in the rushing attack to see who might lessen the loss of Alex Singleton and his 24 rushing touchdowns at the third running back position.
Trey Watts and Ja’Terian Douglas return the nation’s second-best running back duo when it comes to rushing and receiving yards. Last year, the pair combined for 2,394 total yards with 2,044 yards on the ground and 350 receiving yards. Kent State’s Dri Archer and Trayion Durham combined for 3,487 rushing and receiving yards a year ago.
Watts had 1,108 rushing yards and 343 receiving yards last year, while Douglas rushed for 936 yards and seven TDs but had just seven receiving yards.
Tulsa will turn to sophomore Zack Langer and red-shirt freshman James Flanders for that third backfield spot, while sophomore Michael Sorrells is getting some work there as well.
“When you talk about Trey and Ja’Terian it’s a different animal,” said Head Coach Bill Blankenship. “I think, one, JT is becoming a complete back. He’s had a fabulous camp so far in terms in expanding his role. He’s catching the ball very well. His pass protection has been spot on. He’s kind of taken his role and expanded it, while we’ve done the same thing with Trey (Watts). We’re using him a lot more in the passing game and trying to move them both around and not let people get a bead on where they are all the time. They both are exceptionally mature and allows us to go pretty fast with those guys on offense.”
Langer played in all 14 games last year with a lot of that time coming on special teams, but he did rush for 181 yards and averaged 5.2 yards out of the backfield. Sorrells carried four times for 35 yards.
“I’ve been real pleased with Zack Langer. I think he’s had an exceptional fall camp. He’s really solidified himself into the rotation. He’s smart, quick and doing things right,” said Blankenship.
Flanders sat out last year as a true freshman after leading Oklahoma Class 6A in rushing in 2011 with 2,456 yards and scoring with 270 points as a senior at Midwest City High School.
“James Flanders probably is the most exciting addition since fall camp. We kind of knew about him, but he’s shown some flashes of being something special. He’s still in a learning phase, but when he’s confident and when he knows what to do, he’s looked really, really quick,” said Blankenship. “Mike Sorrells is getting some work there. Rowdy Simon is a young one, but he’s had a good fall camp for us too. Langer and James have both made it clear that they both can play with us this year.”
“For us, I think we have a few proven players, and right now the proven players are showing the younger guys the speed of the game, the tempo of the game, which definitely helps and adds to the depth. Right now, we really have to stay consistent,” said Running Backs Coach Dan Bitson. “We need to continue to be consistent, because the guys play at a high level. Then we need to stay healthy. We have to be durable.”
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