Kelly, Merriweather or Browning?
The news hit. The bone was broken. The starting tailback out in the opening days of practice. Duane Coleman is a fierce competitor and was the teams best running back. With Coleman going down, it has been easy to panic but where will this team go from here?
Reggie Merriweather has had two solid springs, and now has performed well this fall. Merriweather has had to improve his attention to detail. In practice, Merriweather has been the one that has shown the big play ability. Merriweather has to become more sound of a blocker to cement himself as the number one.
Kyle Browning is the sleeper of the group. His lack of size is the main question fans will ask about Browning, but the coaching staff knows he is more than capable of contributing. The Tigers offense began to turn around last year, when Browning was inserted into the lineup. Browning started against Middle Tennessee State and Georgia Tech where the Tigers combined to score 76 points. Browning had 15 carries for 85 yards in the two games. For the season, Browning had 29 carries for 155 yards. Browning's 5.2 yards per carry last season was the highest among the running backs. He is very tough runner, who keeps his legs moving and is not afraid to lower his head for the extra yard.
Yusef Kelly would be the starter if the Wake Forest game was today. This is the first time where Kelly has been the main go to guy. In his first significant playing time, he shared duty with Bernard Rambert. One of his more memorable plays, was a two yard touchdown run in Athens, where he pushed three Georgia defenders into the end zone.
Kelly has tremendous leg strength, and has been consistently running sub 4.5 forties. The question with Kelly is not a matter of talent, more so whether or not he can remain healthy. In 2002, he averaged 95 yards a game in his three starts, but was hampered with injuries the rest of the season. He reported to camp out of shape last season, and only saw significant playing time against Virginia, where he had 25 carries for 86 yards.
Kelly enters this season with a renewed focus. He gets stronger as the game goes on. Chad Jasmin's role as the power runner for the Tigers finish last year was a key. Now that role falls to Kelly, ideally Coleman would have still been available. Having a Kelly-Browning combo could give similar results to what Coleman-Jasmin did last season. With Coleman being out until at least FSU, Browning may be the key to early season success.