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Iowa State Breakdown: Running Backs

Running Backs So that's why the coaches have been saying Henry Melton's really looking good. The rest of us finally saw it on Saturday, as Hank The Tank rumbled over and around the Cyclone defense for 66 yards on just 8 carries. With Selvin Young being limited by an early injury to his ribs, Melton saw meaningful action for the first time this season and responded terrificly, showing agility you just don't expect from a man of his size, while also doing a great job punishing with his body. It was the first performance of the season that's justified his staying at the position, and it lessened the potential impact of the Young injury significantly.

Charles was his usual solid self, though I noticed in the box score that he had 13 yards lost rushing. The tally reminded me that Charles has been dancing about a bit too much lately, occasionally trying for plays when they aren't there. His ability to dance about like a whisp of smoke is usually a good thing, and part of what makes him so elusive and effective, but he's getting a touch too cutesy with his runs at times. I think it's part of the reason we've yet to see him break a big one - he's not running downhill quite enough. I'd like to see Ken Rucker pull Charles aside and urge him to run a little bit more north-south, saving the extra jukes for the right moments.

McCoy, for his part, looks pretty good when he runs, but he's not doing it enough. There's simply no sell of the rush on the zone-read. The ball pretty obviously goes to the running back, making it that much easier for the opposing defense. The improvement we saw against Rice regressed this week. We need to see it return, and I'm not sure why Colt's so gun-shy about keeping it - he's not a bad athlete at all, and he's got quick feet. I want to see him use it more.

Overall, the run game was plenty effective against one of the conference's better run stopping units. I thought Davis underutilized the tailbacks a bit much once again, but not by much. We're really hoping Selvin's not out for any extended period of time, but the strong play by Melton has us feeling great about the team's depth. Even fourth string rusher Chris Ogbonnaya continues to impress, racking a respectable 20 yards on 5 carries. The unit earns an A-.