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Filling Doug Martin’s Shoes

Over the last few weeks much ado has been made about replacing Kellen Moore in Boise State’s offense, and rightfully so. Moore was the undisputed leader of a Boise State team that had the best record in college football during his four-year reign. However, an aspect that continues to get overlooked is replacing the production of Doug Martin, BSU’s versatile running back in the backfield.

During his four years at BSU (two and a half as a starter), Martin accumulated over 3,400 yards on the ground, including two straight seasons eclipsing the 1,200 yard mark. He also was able to do this while averaging over 5.5 yards per carry (YPC). Finding someone to fill those shoes should be BSU’s second priority going into the new season.

Martin announced himself to the college football landscape during 2010. In this breakout season, he averaged an incredible 6.27 YPC. This number was tenth in the NCAA bowl division during the year for running backs with at least 100 carries.

Rank Name Team Yr Pos G Att Yards Avg.
1 Alex Green Hawai’i SR RB 14 146 1199 8.21
2 Allen Bradford USC SR RB 11 110 794 7.22
3 James White Wisconsin FR RB 12 156 1052 6.74
4 Roy Helu Jr. Nebraska SR RB 14 188 1245 6.62
5 Isaiah Pead Cincinnati JR RB 11 157 1029 6.55
6 Kendrick Hardy USM FR RB 13 139 903 6.5
7 Ed Wesley TCU SO RB 13 166 1078 6.49
8 Knile Davis Arkansas SO RB 13 204 1322 6.48
9 Chris Thompson FSU SO RB 14 133 846 6.36
10 Doug Martin Boise St JR RB 13 201 1260 6.27

Boise State looks to be in a strong position to help fill the void of the departing Doug Martin, but don’t expect things to go smoothly. The lack of experience could surely become a large factor in 2012 when it comes to replacing arguably the most-talented back in Boise State history.The only other returning back Chris Petersen can turn to is Drew Wright, the homegrown player who infamously fumbled late in the loss to TCU. To his benefit, his career YPC is higher than Harper’s (5.18), but comes with a much smaller sample-size (60 carries). Behind him, the Broncos will have to rely on a stable of freshman to help fill the void left by Martin. Jay Ajayi seems to have recovered from an injury during his redshirt freshman year. Jack Fields and Devan Demas seemed to have entered their name into ballot for the backup role as well.
Boise State will look to sixth-year senior running back D.J. Harper to carry the load as Martin’s main replacement. The oft-injured back shown flashes indicating he’ll be an ample replacement. Through his first five injury-filled seasons, Harper has carried the ball 319 times for BSU, accumulating 1,641 yards for a nice average of 5.14 YPC. The caveat worth pointing out at this time is that Harper was traditionally used as a change-of-pace back, not the workhorse. Whether Harper’s smaller frame can handle the hits of a 200+ carry season will likely be a cause of sleep deprivation for coach Chris Petersen this year.Martin’s average dipped to under 5.00 YPC during 2011, but is likely a result of Boise State losing its top-two receivers from 2010, future NFL’ers Titus Young and Austin Pettis, putting more emphasis on stopping the run for opposing teams. With Martin being the most feared offensive weapon not named Kellen Moore, he shouldered more of the offensive load, carrying the ball over 60 more times in one less game. So although he saw his YPC dip, his overall yards, yards per game and touchdowns all increased as he became a bigger focal point in the offense.

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