July 26, 2011

Coach's Corner: Running Back

As a follow up to our Summer Snapshot of the running back position, we dive into the mind of Tulsa head football coach Bill Blankenship for his thoughts on his tailbacks and H-backs, as well as a quick depth-chart heading into fall camp.

Sophomore Trey Watts is currently leading the pack at the tailback spot.

"Trey had the biggest spring," said Blankenship. "He really showed up a lot last spring and put himself in position to play a lot, actually work in the starting line-up. But the improvement we've seen in the last year is incredible. I mean he is just night and day the best back on the field."

Providing a spark with his tremendous speed is sophomore Ja'Terian Douglas, who is still learning the intricacies of the offense.

"Ja'Terian is still the most explosive back on the field in terms of being a home-run hitter," Blankenship described. "He's a guy that when he breaks clean, they're not going to catch him, and it doesn't matter who we're playing.

"He is a very coachable young man. He is just still really young, coming into truly his first spring, he still has a lot to learn. He is still trying to get a hold of the pass protection side of things. Once he puts all those pieces together, he's going to be dynamite."

As we mentioned in our Summer Snapshot feature on the position, Alex Singleton was the most productive tailback in 2010 and can take over a game at times. Coaches believe he will only improve, as he is far from reaching his true potential.

"Alex Singleton missed a lot of the early part of spring coming off of an injury, and he started to develop," said Blankenship. "He's so different than the other guys, but he's a guy that, in our evaluations with him, if he would ever figure out who he is and how big he is, he can be scary good.

"This was my Dr. Phil analogy -- I think he doesn't want to be considered a big guy, so I think he sees himself smaller than he is. And because of that, he still hasn't learned to be just a force. If he ever gets it, and I think he will, he could be an every down back, but right now, I don't think he sees himself that way."

While Blankenship says sophomore Tony Peoples is "still a long ways away" after switching from the defensive backfield in the spring, the coach is hoping for big things out of a true freshman tailback that will likely compete at H-back.

"We'll have Michael Sorrells coming in that I think will be in a Willie Carter mold. Michael is a big back that we look to be in that Charles Clay, Willie Carter family. That's the position we want to play him in, but he is a true tailback as well. He ran a 10.8 or 10.6 100-meters this spring. So we think he's got the freakish ability to be big and fast."

Speaking of Willie Carter, the junior will attempt to fill the big shoes left by Charles Clay, and after a strong spring performance, expectations are high.

"Willie had a great spring. He came off of finishing up the season very well, very explosive," Blankenship explained. "I think he's kind of seen himself as, 'Charles has moved on, I've stepped in and now it's my turn.' He just has kind of grown into that. He's very confident and very effective.

"You'll see Willie do everything. He won't just be stuck up there as the H-back. He will be the tailback at times, he will get the ball. He's a guy that we talked about quite a bit in spring, and what will be part of our summer game plan will be how we can get him the ball."

Summer Depth Chart

TB1 - Trey Watts, So., 5-11, 203
TB2 - Ja'Terian Douglas, So., 5-11, 180
TB3 - Alex Singleton, Jr., 6-1, 250
TB4 - Tony Peoples, So., 5-11, 180

Hback1 - Willie Carter, Jr., 6-2, 221
Hback2 - Clay Sears, Sr., 6-4, 234
Hback3 - Nathan Largen, Sr., 6-1, 231

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