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The College of Idaho

Positional Preview - Running Backs

Contributed by admin on Aug 18, 2015 - 10:13 PM

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The fourth of a nine-part College of Idaho 2015 football team preview, focusing today on the Coyote running backs.
 
The running game was the key to the success of the Yotes during the 2014 season, averaging over 200-yards per game.  However, as the season progressed, injuries depleted the stable of backs, giving multiple players opportunities to shine.

This season, depth will not be a problem for the C of I offense, as 12 backs are vying for playing time, including four seniors.
 
"The experience we have in the back field is priceless," offensive coordinator Tim Keane said. "Every year we are getting a little more experience.  It's great to have an older group."
 
Though quarterback Teejay Gordon led the Yotes in rushing, Zach Garzoli was the top ground gainer among the running backs.  The sophomore had two 100-yard games and rushed for 559 yards and seven touchdowns, but missed much of the second half of the season due to injury.
 
Two seniors each had 50 or more carries last year, as the hard-nosed duo of Ryan Texeira and Kyle Merritt look to give C of I a change of pace.  Texeira made his debut in Week 5 and averaged over five yards per carry, rushing for 332 yards, while Merritt had 209 yards in an injury-plagued season.
 
Fellow seniors Mike Johnson and Marzett Davis provide speed in the back field and will be looked upon for an expanded role in 2015.
 
"If you look at our tailbacks, they come in all multiple shapes and sizes," Keane said. "We have little quick guys, and some bigger, stronger guys.  It has been fun to come up with some specific formations and packages for certain guys based on their strengths and let them do what they are suited to do."
 
Three other returners are in the mix – as sophomore Dakota Stallions rushed for 80 yards last season, Joe Murphyused the year as a redshirt season, while Chase Fiddler makes the conversion from the defensive side of the ball.
 
Looking to make a splash will be four freshmen, all who rushed for over 1,000 yards during their senior year of high school.  Josh Finley a 3A All-State pick and Magic Valley Player of the Year; Jason Leach rushed for over 3,300 yards over the past two seasons; Colby Brown rushed for 16 touchdowns as a senior; while Jake Thornberry split time between running back and quarterback.
 
"We have a lot of tailbacks and that is what is going to be fun this fall, is to figure out how to utilize all of these guys," Keane said.
 
The Coyotes will host an intrasquad game on Thursday afternoon at 2 p.m. in preparation for the season opener, Aug. 29, vs. Eastern Oregon.