Updated Fri, Aug 29, 2014 4:29 pm
According to Ohio head coach Frank Solich, this season’s group of running backs is one of the most versatile and reliable groups to play during his tenure.
“We have a make up of running backs that’s better than we’ve ever had before,” Solich said Monday during his weekly press conference at Peden Stadium. “You can go right down the list and any of those guys could start for you and perform at a very high level.”
Despite the loss of Beau Blankenship and Ryan Boykin, Ohio has a talented foursome to work the ground game this season — each with a specialization. Junior Daz’mond Patterson and true freshman Papi White offer speed and play-making ability. Their athleticism and explosiveness make them threats coming out of the backfield.
“My strength as a running back is probably my speed,” White said. “I have confidence in myself, I just don’t think anyone can catch me if I get to the outside.”
“Papi’s just flat out speed,” fellow running back Tim Edmond said. “He makes fast people (appear) not fast.”
Patterson is the most experienced of the backs on the roster, having appeared in 23 games as a ball-carrier and special teams return man. He will likely see plenty of touches, whether he's taking a handoff off-tackle or hauling in a screen pass in the flat.
“I like to think of myself as versatile,” Patterson said. “I can run the ball out of the backfield as well as catch the ball out of the backfield. That’s a big thing, that’s something that is difficult for a lot of linebackers that can’t really keep up with running backs. We wanna use that to our strength.”
On the other side of the spectrum is the power and size of senior Tim Edmond and redshirt freshman Dorian Brown. The Bobcats' ground game will be one-dimensional without production between the tackles. Edmond and Brown may be used in the short-yardage situations where Blankenship carried the ball in recent years.
“If it’s third and two I can bring that definite first down,” Edmond said. “That’s what they expect of me and that’s what I expect of me. Then we got some other underclassmen, Dorian Brown, you know they can obviously get into the power of it.”
With a new starting quarterback in the pistol, Ohio will rely on its stable of runners to carry much of the offensive load. All four players may touch the ball in the season opener Saturday at Kent State. Ohio lost to the Golden Flashes, 44-13, in Athens last season.
“I would say (we bring) a 1, 2, 3, 4 punch,” Edmond said. “The enthusiasm and intensity of camp, just knowing that it is Kent ... we gotta bring the message back to them on their home field.”