Ah, the 2012 fall semester has finally began. Campus is full again, classes have begun, and my expectations for another school year at Purdue have also started. Yet, accompanying my personal conjectures is another set of expectations, specifically about our football team.
With the start of every fall semester, we also dawn on the start of another college football season. While I am very excited for football to start again, I am continuously setting my expectations of the Boilermakers this fall. Like many throughout Boiler Nation, my full attention is being split between how I think my courses will pan out and how likely it will be for my football team to get to another bowl game.
Well, today's featured player in the Kickoff Countdown has plenty of expectations set before him this season. As he works to shoulder some great responsibilities, please welcome our backup running back, #11 Akeem Hunt.
Akeem Hunt - So.
With as much certainty as I can possibly express, I believe Akeem Hunt is a major variable in determining how much success Purdue's rushing attack and entire offensive unit earns this season. Coming off a respectable true freshman campaign (33 carries, 287 rushing yards and 2 rushing TDs), Hunt is set to see much more action in his sophomore year as he climbs the ladder to the #2 spot at running back behind senior captain Akeem Shavers.
Hunt's call-up is largely due to two things. The first of which is that he is a great running back. He is very quick and agile. He runs with purpose despite his small size, which has dwindled a bit due to Hunt putting on 10 more pounds of muscle this past offseason. Also, last year he showed serious flashes of what could be an amazing Halfback sometime in the future. Heck, he tore it up at IU's house in November, gaining 100 yards on only 10 carries!
The second reason for Hunt being the backup in 2012 would be a massive overhaul at the Tailback position in recent months.When you look at it closely, Shavers and Hunt are Purdue's only reliable options at RB this season. And I will list a few examples of why this is the case. As many know, former starter Ralph Bolden is coming off a major ACL tear in November and an arrest back in April. If he doesn't get a medical redshirt, it's likely he won't see any action until midseason.
When you look at our other options, it starts to get a bit alarming. Senior Gavin Roberts has never touched the football for the Boilers. Reggie Pegram, a solid backup last year, left the team in January. Sophomore Brandon Cottom is coming off of his own ACL injury. And at his size (6'4", 258) he is a bruising, yet slow runner who isn't fooling anyone by playing Halfback instead of Fullback. Hell, at that size, why isn't he playing at Middle Linebacker?
Because of this thin depth at the Running Back position, Coach Danny Hope wants to utilize some of our Wide Receivers in the running game. Guys like Antavian Edison, Raheem Mostert, B.J. Knauf and Danny Anthrop could get a significant amounts of carries this year, but how much can we really lean on these guys?
I suspect that Akeem & Akeem, Attorneys at Law and One-Two Boilermaker Rushing Punch, will shoulder a vast majority of the load this fall. Which brings me to my point. Akeem Hunt--nearly as much as his backfield counterpart Shavers--will be greatly depended upon in 2012, and thus, must be on top of his game. I think he is up to the challenge. As I said earlier, Hunt is a very solid Halfback. He is certainly capable of obtaining as many as 100 or 150 carries this year. And when you do a little statistical research and analysis, that is probably what he will finish with in 2012.
Last year, Purdue totaled 535 carries on the season. About 115 of those were due to QB scrambles from Caleb TerBush and Robert Marve, but that number should inflate with a healthy Rob Henry rushing out of his own packages this year, so let's bump that number to 175. Also, receivers accounted for 65 carries last year. That number should also be a bit higher this year with more wideouts factoring into the run game, so let's assume it will be more like 95. That leaves a total of 265 of last year's carries being split between the two Akeems. But, there is no ruling out that more total run plays will be called this year than the last. I mean, while we have very little depth at RB, our overall run game is looking pretty solid, at least on paper. Expect Hunt and Shavers to share almost 300 carries in 2012, with Hunt getting nearly 40% of that load.
So, long story short, if Akeem Hunt rushes for something like 120 carries this fall, his overall performance will be one of several keys to Purdue's success. Hopefully, he can run us right into another bowl bid.