Grading the Cyclones: Running Backs


This post is part of a series of posts in which I review the Cyclones position groups based on their play in the 2011 season. I assign a letter grade and give you a chance to have your say by leaving a comment at the end.

Coming into the season, fans wondered how well the Clones could run the ball without Alexander Robinson.  Overall, I think the Cyclones had a decent year on the ground.  What really impressed me is how deep Iowa State is at that position.  What is even better for Cyclone fans, they will all be returning next year.

Shontrelle Johnson, Iowa State’s top running back, was having a good year.  In the first four games, he rushed for 247 yards on only 51 attempts.  However, against Texas, Johnson injured his neck and it would sideline him for the rest of the year.

James White was one of the biggest surprises this year for ISU.  White exploded onto the scene after his performance against Iowa and will always be remembered for scoring the touchdown in overtime to give Iowa State their first victory over Iowa in a couple years.  James White was Iowa  State’s leading rusher last year and carried a lot of the load.  White had two big games against Texas Tech and Baylor, in both he ran for over 100 yards.  He rushed for 743 yards this year (would have been more, but only had one carry against Oklahoma) and scored 8 touchdowns.

When the Cyclones needed a yard or two on third and fourth downs or needed someone to run out the clock, they turned to Jeff Woody.  Jeff Woody is the bruiser on the Cyclones.  This year, Woody rushed for 381 yards and 6 touchdowns.  Woody was clutch at the end of games this year.  He got first down after first down to seal the win against Kansas, and scored the OT winner against Oklahoma State which is the biggest play in school history.

Don’t forget about freshman Duran Hollis.  When your fourth running back has the talent that Duran Hollis does, you’re in good shape.  The freshman back rushed for 213 yards and 2 touchdowns on the season.  His best game was definitely against Texas Tech, where he ran for 101 yards including a 71-yard touchdown.

The backs were good this year for the Cyclones and I expect them to be even better next year.  It is awesome knowing that all of these backs are coming back next year.  I hoping that I can give the running backs an “A” next year.

My Final Grade: B

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