Football: Outlook unclear at underutilized running back position

As fall camp progressed, there was one question that remained to be answered: who would replace Robbie Rouse in the backfield?

It was not surprising that Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter decided to go with a running back by committee approach – no running back was able to stand out in what he said was a dense position.

Josh Quezada was named the starter and scored the first touchdown of the night for the Bulldogs. Afterwards, there was a little more variation.

Marteze Waller led the team in rushing with 30 yards, but Quezada was not far behind with 29 yards. Combined, those yards are only about 32 percent of Rutgers leading rusher Paul James.

The Bulldogs’ run game, statistically, saw a drop in numbers and production.

Fresno State wasn’t shouldering its offense via the run.

But on this night, it didn’t have to.

After halftime, the ball sailed through the air more than the ground for the Bulldogs. Quarterback Derek Carr threw 53 completions on 74 attempts for 470 yards and five touchdowns, compared to Rutgers’ quarterback Gary Nova’s 26 of 41 showing for 348 yards.

After the game, there was still a level of uncertainty as to who will run with the ball on a more permanent basis.

“We’ll look at the tape and get together with Coach [Dave] Schramm and Coach [Joe] Wade,” DeRuyter said. “We have to do a much better job with our quarterback-running back exchange.

“We can’t put the ball on the ground, that’s an unforgivable sin.”

Malique Micenheimer, another touted running back during fall camp, only ran for one yard but scored the rally-starting touchdown for the Bulldogs in the second quarter.

Despite not getting a touchdown, Rutgers’ James still took advantage of gaps in the Bulldogs’ defense. In the third quarter alone, James ran for 164 yards and Waller ran for six yards, a far cry from the numbers that Rouse put up. Waller’s longest run was for 17 yards in the first quarter.

“I think our average on the run plays was good,” Carr said. “When things like that happen, we’ll see it on film and there’s a lot of running lanes in there. I have to do a better job at getting some running plays.”

When the first game ended, the excitement over the start of the 2013 season for the Bulldogs wavered. In the end, the question still remains unanswered as to who will be the go-to guy in the backfield.

DeRuyter made that point clear:

“I know [a decision] will not be made tonight.”