Ray Graham of the Pittsburgh Panthers rushed for 958 yards before being injured in his eighth game last season (Justin K. Aller/Getty Images).
Each week Big East Coast Bias will poll team bloggers on a football-related question or topic. Their responses will be posted as a launching point for some fan discussion or debate. Here’s this week’s question:
The Big East had five 1,000-yard rushers in 2009 and the same number in 2010. The number fell to three last year. Let’s use four as the over/under number on conference players rushing for 1,000 yards in 2012.
Do you take the Over or Under, and why?
Survey said …
Cardiac Hill: That's a tough one, but I'd lean on the over, I suppose. Two of the three guys (Isaiah Pead and Antwon Bailey) from last year were seniors, so they're gone. Lyle McCombs is the returning leading rusher and with over 1,100 yards, I'd peg him as one. The Big East also gets Temple and Bernard Pierce, who ran for nearly 1,500 yards. And Pitt running back Ray Graham had about 950 through only seven full games, so that gives you three good candidates. After that, though, it goes a bit cold. Rutgers' Jawan Jamison and South Florida's Darrell Scott are both possibilities, but they'll be pushed for carries by Savon Huggins and Demetris Murray respectively. And looking at Dominique Brown at Louisville, I'd give him a shot without Victor Anderson there. Getting to five 1,000-yard rushers might be difficult, but with three 'locks' in my mind, I think it's realistic. I'll take the over.
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Jamie DeVriend: I'm going to say exactly four. I figure Ray Graham and Lyle McCombs are going to get there without much trouble. But who's going to carry the ball enough to get there? Isaiah Pead is gone from Cincinnati. Louisville used a running back by committee last year. Demetris Murray isn't an every-down back for USF. And I'm not sure who gets the bulk of the action for Syracuse (Prince-Tyson Gulley?), Rutgers (Jawan Jamison? Savon Huggins?), or Temple (?????).
Temple seems likely to have a runner get there because that's so integral to their offense. So that's three. And I do think one of those other teams could get a runner to the 1,000-yard mark - my hunch is either Syracuse or Rutgers - and that means exactly four.
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Matt Opper: Under. I just don't see the depth at the position that has been present the last couple of years. A lot of franchise guys moved on and there aren't a ton of them in the pipeline to replace them. Pitt is one exception to the rule, but from where I am sitting they are the only exception. If more than three backs top 1,000 yards in 2012 I would be really surprised.
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John Lamb: I have to take the under on this one as more and more teams across college football rely on the running back by committee approach. Lyle McCombs and Jawan Jamison are the surest bets to eclipse 1,000 yards in my estimation. If Ray Graham is 100 percent then he should have no problem doing it as well but I am always wary of players returning from knee injuries. After those three there are a bunch of question marks and what-ifs.
From a Temple point of view, would look to be a shoe-in for 1,000 yards after rushing for 860 and 897 yards as a backup the previous two seasons but how will he respond to being the man and not the change of pace back for the NFL-bound Bernard Pierce? I think Brown will have a nice season but will ultimately find out that Big East defenses from week-to-week are better than the ones he faced in the MAC the previews three years.
John has Temple covered at OwlsBlog.
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29sonski: My head tells me to go with the under, but my gut says over. If Graham comes back healthy, he seems a lock. UConn’s Paul Pasqualoni has indicated he wants a feature back with the stamina and determination to stay on the field (McCombs). Matt Brown gained more than 900 yards for Temple playing in the shadow of Bernard Pierce last season – and the Owls are going to catch some Big East defenses by surprise. Rutgers, Syracuse and USF are settings for a tailback to reach to 1,000 yards. Call me a blind optimist. I’m going "over."
I'm a UConn Huskies fan and a regular contributor at Big East Coast Bias.
So ... what's your prediction?