Hoo Preview 2010: Running Backs

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Keith Payne is back with the Hoos in 2010 after leaving the team last fall.

Virginia coach Mike London wants to run the football. Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor wants to run the football. The quarterbacks want to run the football. The receivers want to run the football. The offensive line definitely wants to run the football. And you can bet your bottom dollar that the running backs want to run the football.

It’s a good thing too. After all, the sooner the Cavaliers can figure out how to run the football better, the sooner they may be able to revive an offense that has struggled – to be kind – in recent seasons. Everything from consistently moving the football to short yardage situations to scoring points have seemingly befuddled the Hoos over the past few years, leading to lopsided time of possession statistics, lots of snaps for the defense, and too often losing results.

Many of those issues have stemmed from an inability to effectively run the football, particularly against the stronger defenses on the schedule. UVa posted 57 yards rushing against TCU and 74 yards against Miami in 2009 for example. Certainly part of that can be attributed to last season’s experiment with a spread offense or the offensive line’s multi-season challenge with ever-changing blocking schemes. Truthfully, the root causes could become a long list of grievances.

The bottom line is this: if Virginia is going to improve, then running the football has to improve.

“It is very important for us to be able to run the ball and establish a physical presence out on the field,” London said. “If you can run the ball you can also set up the play-action passes that come off those complementary run plays. It’s going to be important for us to be able to run the ball – push people back – create holes, I think we have good running backs, I think if we can do that and control the line of scrimmage I think we will be a much better team.”

There are several Cavaliers thinking ‘the sooner, the better.’ Seniors Keith Payne