Hoo Preview ’08: Using The Dynamic Duo

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Mikell Simpson piled up 570 yards rushing, 402 yards receiving, and a team-leading 10 TDs in 2007.

During a teleconference with reporters on Friday, Virginia coach Al Groh received a question that directly addressed the use of Cedric Peerman and Mikell Simpson . Are there ways that you think Peerman and Simpson could be used on the field together with one split wide or a different formation? The answer: “No probably not.”

I’m not sure why, but I was surprised. Actually, disappointed may be the better word.

I admit it. I had caviar dreams about Virginia’s new dynamic duo. Split backs in a pro set. Even though, I fully understand that formation requires one to become a lead blocker on many of the calls, thus making it unrealistic as a season-long set with two tailbacks, I still had hoped it was a possibility.

What about a shotgun formation with both Peerman and Simpson flanking the quarterback? In this case, both are solid in their blitz pick-up skills so you could mix up who you deploy as a backfield receiver. The sets could be two receiver/one tight end, three receivers, or some other combination. It seems like play-action passing would be a viable weapon. And what if the offensive line stabilizes? Both could run patterns out of the backfield.

But I digress. I know I’m video-gaming here. The real question isn’t whether Virginia can use Peerman and Simpson together, but whether it can use them apart. And that’s why the definitive response given by Groh on Friday rattled me so.

He obviously could be hiding his cards, but if there are no inventive plans to put the dynamic duo on the field together, that means the two will be splitting time in the backfield. I hope that doesn’t mean one or the other disappears for long stretches in games. We know how Groh used Wali Lundy and Alvin Pearman. The decision was usually to ride the hot hand when someone stood out. Sometimes,