April 21, 2009
By Taylor Soper
If there's something Husky football fans shouldn't be worried about, it's the talent and depth of this year's running game.
A healthy Chris Polk headlines a backfield that is a little more experienced than last season and is full of talent. Sophomore Terrance Dailey, last year's leading rusher with 353 yards, should be a big factor, while sophomores Curtis Shaw and David Freeman, along with newcomer Demitrius Bronson, should all provide help to a deep backfield.
"The running backs are going to be good," Polk said. "We all do something better than the other. Everyone does a little bit of everything."
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"I think he's got some special abilities, and he's looking good," said first-year running backs coach Joel Thomas.
Bronson, a freshman from Kent, Wash., has had a successful and surprising spring thus far, racking up big run after big run and impressing players and coaches.
"D.B. is a great running back, and he's a workhorse," said senior fullback Paul Homer. "He's just really strong and dedicated, and it shows out there on the field. He's doing really well."
Thomas said that while he doesn't have much film on either Polk or Bronson, he's been happy with their efforts thus far. He's hoping to continue to develop the two players and keep the competition level high.
"They [Polk and Bronson] have shown some really nice things, and it's my job to continue to develop them," he said. "The main thing is that I want to continue to create competition for this group. If you're the number one guy, you'd better be looking over your shoulder because someone better be approaching."
The Huskies have three or four running backs who have the ability to become starters. While all could possibly start at the running back position, coaches are looking for someone to stand out.
"They've all shown they have innate ability on certain things to do something special," said Thomas. "[But] we just need a guy that is going to prove that he's going to be special all the time. Ultimately, that's the guy that's going to be the starter in the long run."
Thomas was the running backs coach at Purdue before joining the Husky coaching staff in January. He spent 2002-2003 as the running backs coach at Louisville, where the Cardinals were ranked 10th in the nation in rushing offense (228.2 yards per game). Thomas played at Idaho from 1995-1998, where he ran for 3,929 yards and 51 touchdowns, both all-time Vandal highs.
"He is much more hands-on," Polk said. "When you hit the hole, he's right behind you. He's more down to earth, and we can connect to him."
If all goes well, fans can expect a skilled backfield next season that will bring depth and experience to an important position.
"We still have a lot of work to do, and we're excited to get that work done," said Homer. "We're excited to get this thing turned around and get it going [back to] where it was."