Going into the season, the Red had three solid running backs vying for the top spot for tomorrow”s game against Bucknell.
The Red still have three solid backs, yet one has definately established himself as the clear-cut starter.
Junior Josh Johnston, who rushed for a team-high 446 yards last season, will get the bulk of the carries for the Red this season.
Yet in Johnston”s mind, having the services of senior Marcus Blanks and junior Andre Hardaway are just as important to the team as his contributions.
‘We are always going to have fresh legs in the game,’ said Johnston.
‘And we”re all different — I have the ability to find a hole and outrun the defense for a long score, Marcus always finds a hole to bust a big run through, and Andre can run anyone over on his way to a score.’
Despite missing two games last season, Johnston racked up 103 carriers and averaged 4.3 yards-per-carry, which was a yard better than both Blanks and Hardaway, who each had 3.3 yards-per-carry. He also tallied eight receptions for 76 yards, and 49 yards returning two kickoffs last season.
Johnston”s best performance of last season was against Division 1-AA runner-up Colgate when he rushed for 109 yards and scored a touchdown in a 27-24 loss.
He found the endzone four times a year ago, twice in a 34-21 loss to Columbia. His 24 points scored last season were a team-high.
Johnston, a native of Centerport, N.Y., has looked good thus far in the preseason, scoring twice in an intrasquad scrimmage, and breaking a 26-yard touchdown against Ithaca College.
Yet he knows that to win games this season, he will have to do more than just carry the football.
‘If it means grinding the ball every play to keep the defensive unit off the field, protecting the quarterback, catching a pass, or returning kickoffs, I”ll do it,’ Johnston said.
Johnston is optimistic about the upcoming season because he believes that he and the rest of the running back corps can fare even better this season because of the experience on the offensive line.
Four of the five starters are seniors, and junior center Jon Moody is also the smallest player on the line, weighing in at 261 pounds.
‘The offensive line really overtakes defenses because of the great size they have,’ Johnston said.
Because of the experience of the line and the backs, Knowles has implemented a scheme that includes more zone runs, which allow the backs to pick the holes they think are the biggest rather than plays that have specific holes to run through.
If Johnston is able to find those holes this season, defenses will be spending a lot of time chasing him from behind.
Archived article by Chris Mascaro
Sun Assistant Sports Editor