Running the ball is something Idaho didn’t do particularly well last season. A young offensive line, playing from behind a majority of the time and overall inconsistency from the running back position meant Idaho scored just three rushing touchdowns last season, averaged just over 3-yards per carry and rushed for just over 1,000 yards on the season.
Coming into 2013 Idaho does not return a rusher who rushed for 100 yards in a game last season.
Idaho coach Paul Petrino noted the position as one he felt needed to be immediately addressed in January when he brought in junior college backs Jerrel Brown and Kris Olugbode. By the end of spring practice the position turned from a weakness to one that could be a strength on the team.
The two quickly became the focal point of the offense in the spring, leaving us in the media scrambling to learn how to correctly pronounce “Olugbode” (still not there yet).
The fall should present more of an opportunity for coaches to see how the two will work together in the offense, but as of now it seems the two are entrenched as the primary ball carriers. Also in the mix will be senior James Baker who showed good things in 2012 before being hampered by injuries. Baker presents the larger, short-yardage carry option. Moscow-native Justin Parkins is also in the mix.
The two new additions on the freshman side of things are Isaiah Saunders (son of former Idaho receiver Walter Saunders) and Richard Montgomery. There’s been no clear-cut indication that they’re going to redshirt so the fall will likely provide an opportunity for them to compete with Parkins and Baker for spots on the depth chart.
At fullback Idaho returns Jake Manley who played quite a bit last season, but will see competition from Tueni Lupeamanu. Lupeamanu could snag the job based on his versatility — He could eventually grow into a tight end or even a defensive lineman, as Petrino noted on signing day.
Running backs at a glance
Departed players: Ryan Bass, Josh Hadley, Todd Handley
Returning players: James Baker – Sr., Jake Manley – So., Justin Parkins, So., Andrew Williams – RFr.
Coming in: Jerrel Brown – Jr., Kris Olugbode – Jr., Isaiah Saunders – Fr., Richard Montgomery – Fr., Tueni Lupeamanu – Fr.
Other roster notes: Saunders and Montgomery are candidates to redshirt should they not break through on the depth chart early. Lupeamanu and Manley constitute the fullbacks on the roster.
Our projected depth chart
1a. Jerrel Brown
1b. Kris Olugbode
3. James Baker
4. Justin Parkins
5. Isaiah Saunders
6. Richard Montgomery
It’s our guess that one of Saunders or Montgomery will redshirt this year and that one will probably his feet wet in the offense. This will be an important fall when it comes to the organization of depth behind Brown and Olugbode.
Check out our other position previews: