Today, I am going over the top running games the Miami Hurricanes will be facing in 2018. Narrowing it down to five wasn’t easy, but I went with my gut. There will be some tough matchups down the stretch, folks. Prepare yourselves. Don’t be surprised when were playing random teams this year and they have a running back giving us a fit. All over the schedule there are talented and supremely athletic playmakers that can and will make things happen — even against our defense. It is better to accept that now because they are coming.
I was truly impressed by Duke freshman Britton Brown when we played them on a Friday night last year. He did not have a particularly great game (10 carries for 48 yards), but I saw a kid that ran hard. He just stood out to me and I have kept a close eye on him since. Brown isn’t a household name by any stretch, but he quietly had 701 yards and seven touchdowns last year while averaging 5.4 yards a carry. His breakout game came in the Tobacco Road rivalry against UNC when Brown carried the ball 10 times and averaged nine yards per carry. Then in mid-November Brown ran the ball 14 times for 116 yards and touchdown against George Tech.
Duke in here is more of a personal prediction that Britton Brown is going to have a really good sophomore year. Virginia running back Jordan Ellis is a very talented back and Virginia Tech also has a couple of good guys in Jalen Holston and Deshawn McClease.
4. LSU Tigers
I am going out on limb here because the Tigers backfield is not very impressive on paper. Senior Nick Brossette is expected to be the starter going into the season despite having just 19 carries for 96 yards in 2017. However, a few half-decent running backs named Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice finished their tenure at LSU in the last two years. Fournette had an extremely successful rookie season in the NFL and Guice was just drafted by the Redskins in the second round of the NFL draft. You simply cannot ignore the production that has gone through Baton Rouge recently. Based on potential alone, I am going to give LSU the benefit of the doubt and place them on this list.
The next three are interchangeable in my honest opinion. One features a purely rushing attack, the other features one of the nations leading rushers and the last one features a potential superstar amongst a group of other extremely talented backs. They are each unique in their approach to the run game, but are nonetheless efficient and extremely dangerous.
It would be extremely disrespectful if Georgia Tech wasn’t on this list. They run the ball like 640 times a game and they are one of the absolute best at doing it – especially when they have a quarterback who runs the triple-option well. I have written about quarterback TaQuon Marshall many times in my tenure here at State of The U and I will gladly do so again. People need to understand that when Miami goes up to Atlanta this year it will not be a walk in the park. It will be a four-quarter battle against a rushing attack that wants to eat away at your energy by moving quickly and illegally attack your defensive lineman’s knees.
Marshall ran the ball for 1,146 yards and 17 (!!!) touchdowns in 2017. That is a lot of touchdowns, especially from a quarterback. In his first game as a starter against Tennessee in Knoxville, Marshall ran the ball 44 times for 259 yards and had five touchdowns. This kid can ball and Miami will need to keep a strong lookout for him. Alongside Marshall is KirVonte Benson who eclipsed 1000 yards in just 11 games last year and had six touchdowns of his own.
George Tech also has two other veteran A-backs neighboring Benson in Qua Searcy and Clinton Lynch, who both averaged over six yards per carry in 2017.
Cam Akers, Jacques Patrick and Khalan Laborn. I mean, need I say more? Three former five-star backs make up a lethal backfield for a Seminoles offense that has been extremely run-heavy as of late. Akers ran for 1,024 yards as a true freshman, breaking Dalvin Cook’s freshman rushing yardage record, while averaging 5.8 yards per carry.
Patrick, who will be entering his senior year, is a 6’3 235 pound bruiser that averages 5.5 yards per touch and has accumulated over 1,400 yards on the ground throughout his career as a Seminole. Last year, Patrick received the biggest workload of his college career and tied Akers for the most rushing touchdowns on the team (7).
Khalan Laborn redshirted in 2017 but will be expected to contribute this year. You simply cannot leave a talent like that off the field. Laborn was rated as the nation’s No.1 all-purpose back by 247Sports and by Rivals. Sharing a backfield with talented guys like Akers and Patrick will likely limit his touches but having an insurance back that was ranked higher than any prep back in the entire United States in 2017 isn’t exactly the worst problem to have.
We saw how Willie Taggert used a guy like Royce Freeman, who ran the ball 244 times for 1503 yards last year and eventually went in the third round to the Denver Broncos. Oregon had 1097 more rushing yards than passing yards last year and it is likely that Taggert carries that same run-heavy mentality in Tallahassee, especially with those backs.
AJ Dillon finished 12th in the country in rushing yards last season with 1,589 yards — as a true freshman. Dillon also runs behind a line that returns seven players with starting experience and is expected to be one of the top offensive lines in the entire ACC. I can’t imagine there being any sort of drop-off in 2018.
Quarterback Anthony Brown gathered 200 yards rushing in nine games before injuring his knee. At 6’1 215, Brown can option to keep the ball himself when he needs to. He also forces opponents to second-guess their aggressiveness against Dillon because Brown can get behind the defense in no time. Manny Diaz and Co. are going to have headaches game planning for a Friday night meeting with Dillon, Brown and the rest of the Boston College Eagles in Chestnut Hill.
Who has the best rushing attack Miami will see in 2018?
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