Just because you’ve heard a lot about how new coach Matt Rhule wants the offense to be more balanced, don’t think for one second that the college team on North Broad Street is going to look more like the pro team on South Broad did during most of Andy Reid’s tenure as Eagles coach.
Rhule knows that the running game is important. He knows that from coaching Bernard Pierce last season here and from the games he caught last season when Montel Harris carried the football 186 times.
He also wants to find a back out of the group that can get his carries up into the range of 20 a game.
“I’d like to have two guys step up really,” Rhule said of his group of running backs. “Bernard was at his best when he had Matt (Brown); Montel was at his best when he had Matt. So you’d like to have a 1-2 punch.
“The way I see it, though, is if we have one we have one. And if we have two we have two. But I’d definitely like to have that one guy that you feel like you can give the ball to 20 times,” Rhule continued. “Ideally, I’d like for it to be 20 for one guy, 10 for another.
Right now the leading candidate to emerge as the 20 guy is 6-0, 225-pound junior Kenney Harper. While the Owls have yet to put the pads on – they will on Friday for the first time – listening to Rhule it’s clear Harper is out in front.
Rhule is also challenging sophomore Jamie Gilmore, slightly built at 5-8, 190, to step up and seize the opportunity.
It’s also clear that the auditioning for the change-of-pace, 10-carry back is much more wide open. Rhule is excited about Sicklerville freshman Zaire Williams. Rhule says that diminutive Hassan Dixon (5-9, 175) is probably the fastest player on the team.
So we’ll have to see. The good news for the Owls is they’ll start to get some of the answers they are looking for this Saturday when they conduct their first scrimmage at Chodoff Field on Saturday morning.
“Guys really look good until they start to get hit,” Rhule said. “That’s when we’ll start to get a better understanding of what we have.”