[Vandal] Plenty Of Mouths To Feed In Idaho's Backfield

robiegruss at aol.com robiegruss at aol.com
Sun Aug 29 14:42:38 PDT 2021

>From The Lewiston TribuneLewiston, IdahoSunday, August 29, 2021
Plenty Of Mouths To Feed In Idaho's Backfield
Vandals’ deepest group is experienced running back corps
By Stephen Wiebe
MOSCOW — Idaho coach Paul Petrino has a good problem to have at the running back position — too many mouths to feed in a crowded backfield.
Two of Idaho’s tailbacks have at one point led the team in rushing in Roshaun Johnson and Aundre Carter — a 250-pound tank who returns after missing the spring season. Then there’s all-purpose back Nick Romano and the addition of speedy freshman Eli Cummings — the most impressive back in fall camp.
How will Petrino decide who carries the rock?
“It’ll come down to who practices hard enough each week,” Petrino said, grinning. “Whoever grinds and does things right and practices the hardest, that’s who’s going to get the ball the most.”
Petrino said the Week 1 starter will come down to the specific play call. But Johnson is expected to get the most touches this season.The 6-foot, 235-pound junior finished first on the team among running backs with 218 yards and three touchdowns in the spring. He also started one game each in 2018 and 2019.
“As the saying goes, ‘iron sharpens iron,’” Johnson said. “Every single day is a competition between all of us and it’s a friendly competition. It’s not like we’re out here having envy towards one another, it’s just trying to get each other better, trying to get each other to that next step every single day.”
Romano had only 155 yards in the spring, but was the Vandals’ second-leading rusher in 2019 with 513 yards on 5.1 yards per carry. The sophomore from Meridian also is a two-time all-conference honoree at kick returner.
Carter returns to the roster after leaving the team in 2020 for undisclosed reasons. He was Idaho’s top runner in 2019 with 615 yards rushing and seven touchdowns, averaging 5.4 yards per carry. Despite first playing in 2018, Carter retains three years of eligibility.
“He’s just a big physical guy, and early on I could see him in our goal-line and short-yardage packages,” Petrino said. “Think he’ll do a good job for us there.”
If you think of “size” with Carter and “experience” with Johnson and Romano, the word “explosive” could describe Cummings.
At 5-8, 170, the Waco, Texas, product isn’t as burly as Idaho’s veteran backs. But Cummings has been the most impressive in fall camp.
Cummings burst into the open field for several big runs in Idaho’s second scrimmage Aug. 21, including a 70-yarder and a 39-yard touchdown.“You’ve got the new freshman, Eli, that’s really, really special — done a lot of great things,” Petrino said. “(He) can run, take it the distance.”
Paving the way for Idaho’s plethora of running backs is All-Big Sky first-team fullback Logan Kendall. The Cheney, Wash., product also will see time at tight end, and might play on defense.
A Kendall-Carter combo could be scary to see for opposing linebackers. The duo combines for 523 pounds of size and speed.
Johnson said the friendly battles between the group in camp have made for a stronger running back room.
“Just from all of camp, I’ve seen a bunch of hard workers and a bunch of guys that want to get on that field and produce for this team,” Johnson said. “And a bunch of guys who are willing to do whatever it takes to do that. We’ve got a bunch of those guys in that running back room right now.”
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