After last night’s practice, we focused mostly on Mississippi State’s plans following the resignation of receivers coach Angelo Mirando, and rightfully so as it was the team’s first session without him.
However, Dan Mullen did provide some insight into his plans at running back.
Coming out of the spring and over the course of the summer, it seemed likely to be a platoon in the backfield. I even wrote about the possibility of sophomore Nick Griffin taking over as the lead back.
It appears we have may have been wrong on both counts. The way Mullen talks, junior LaDarius Perkins seems to be the clear No. 1 at the spot.
It would appear that he can. Though, of course, we’ll find out for sure over the next few weeks.
“I’ve seen him step into that role,” Mullen said. “He’s performing at a very high level.”
This doesn’t mean, however, that the other three running backs won’t get on the field. Mullen talked about Griffin in particular, saying he’s still working on the mental side of getting over his knee injury, but that he has moments where “he’s back.”
How will the split work? Mullen referenced the divide last season, saying it was somewhere around the area of 15 carries a game for one and seven for the other, or 14 and six, he added. I’m no math whiz, but we’ll call that, say, 2.5:1, just to make it a somewhat round number.
“I don’t know if it’s gonna be exactly like that,” Mullen said. “[But] Perkins will be that high end. He’ll be our starter, but we’re gonna roll those guys through.”
For those backups, if you call them that, Mullen said he’s still not sure how it will work. Griffin appears to be the most prototypical back, standing 6’0″, 225 pounds with the ability to both run between the tackles and catch out of the backfield.
The talent is there. As Mullen explained, there’s still another side of the injury left for Griffin to conquer.
“You see, at times, he’s still hesitant,” Mullen said. “It’s all the mental aspect. When he lets it go, you can see he’s back, and he’ll let it go at times. At other times, you just see him think about it. We go live scrimmage sometimes, he gets sideswiped, you see him pop up a little hesitantly, but then he feels, ‘Hey, I’m OK.’ And that’s what he’s dealing with.”
A pair of redshirt freshmen will be pushing Griffin for the No. 2 spot. Josh Robinson is built more like Perkins, low to the ground, yet even thicker. I wouldn’t judge you if you mistook him for a fullback at first glance.
Derrick Milton has a frame more similar to Griffin and his name has come up frequently through fall camp. He’s faster than he appears, using his gallop expertly when he catches balls out of the backfield.
“How many reps those guys get, we’re gonna see,” Mullen said. “Still evaluating those guys probably over the next 4-5 weeks; evaluate those guys to see how the pecking order comes out.”
However it shakes out, Mullen at least knows he has a tremendous amount of depth at running back.