Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Running Backs

Last year, Charles Scott started out the year very strong. He was ahead of Keiland Williams on the depth chart, and played quite a lot in the early season. He didn't manage to get on the field for the ill-fated Auburn game, which was a decision that baffled a lot of people at the time.

Then Charles Scott got hurt, and Keiland passed him on the depth chart. Keiland was a very good running back in the last part of the season, and everyone pretty much forgot about Charles Scott.

In the past few days, however, rumors have started to circulate that Scott had re-emerged as a force at running back, possibly even moving into the #1 position. There is a very interesting article over at Tiger Bait about it (subscription only). I can't publish the whole thing (because I am one of the few people my age who actually respects copyright law), but I will pull out a single quote that I think tells an awful lot.
"I feel a lot better now than I did last year," Scott said. "A lot of the game is slowing down for me. My reads are a whole lot better. I have settled in. I honestly believe off of the scrimmages and camp, I have gained the opportunity for the team to rely on me a lot."
A lot of people forget that players have to develop, and that even great players have a learning curve once they to college. Scott did. Keiland Williams did, and may yet still have learning to do. For Scott the game is "slowing down". What does that mean? It means he's better able to anticipate what's going to happen before it does. Whereas before, Scott had to react. Now Scott can anticipate, giving him an extra split-second in which to act on what happens. That extra split-second may mean the difference between a tackle for loss or a cut away from the tackler into the open field.

The ability to anticipate what will happen can take you a long way in athletics if you're really good at it. It has been said of Wayne Gretzky that he was not particularly fast, nor particularly strong. He was not in any way a phenomenal athlete. He just had the seemingly uncanny ability to be in one place and have the puck come to him in such a way that he could make a play. While everyone else was going to where the puck was, he was skating to where the puck was going to be. It made him arguably the best hockey player of all time, despite his lack of physical athleticism.

It's that ability Scott is tapping into now, and he believes it's making him a much better running back.

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