There are a couple big debates over on hornfans™ about our running game and Greg Davis. Wade through all the nonsense if you want, but I wouldn't recommend it, on account of my not wanting to see this site's readership die off of forehead vein explosions. The main topic in most of them have come down to two sides, either Jamaal Charles runs too east/west, or the scheme and Davis force it.
I believe that players have inherent talent. I believe that it's the coaches job to teach it, mold it, and utilize it. Alex Smith was a #1 pick because of Urban Meyer. Chris Simms was a third round pick because of Greg Davis. Roy Williams was mentioned for as many Heismans as I was. Remember when we were about to lose to Arkansas in 03 and he was alone on the bench with a towel covering his head? A penny for his thoughts buys you a whole bunch of expletives aimed at his coaches I bet.In Charles' case, he clearly has talent. He oozes it. He slips out of tight spots better than MacGyver or that Asian kid from The Goonies. He has oil shoes, or something. Nobody will argue otherwise. So lets put his freshman season in perspective.
2001- Cedric Benson comes in and dazzles everyone with how fast and hard he hits holes. He is the quickest, most aggressive back since Ricky, and we love him. We clamor for him to start. He is clearly better than Hodges Mitchell.
2002 - Cedric struggles behind an awful OL. He becomes timid and slow, knowing no hole is awaiting him. All his high school bred instincts are overrun because of a bad scheme and a bad OL. Taking out his 200 yard Iowa State game, he averages 3.2 yards per carry over his last 6 games. He has 64 yards against Baylor (BAYLOR! Anyone who struggles against them must SUCK!), while Selvin Young, the speedy, aggressive freshman has 98 on 14 carries. We love Selvin. We clamor for him to start. He is clearly better than Cedric Benson.
2003 - Ced starts off with a 3.9 ypc average. He's toast. Put in Selvin. But then something magical happens, Vince young takes over. Benson finishes the season with 158 carries and a 5.9 ypc. Suddenly, there are holes and Benson is flashing his talent. There is hope.
2004 - The latter half especially, Vince is the starter and Benson is dominant. Nobody complains.
2005 - We start the artist formerly known as Selvin Young. Freshman Jamaal Charles dazzles us with a nearly 8 ypc average. We love Jamaal. We clamor for him to start. He is clearly better than Selvin Young.
2006 - No Vince. Our running game goes from all-time explosive down to a non-threat by the end of the year. Stupid scheme decisions, the weak play at OT, and the bad playcalling are back. Suddenly we don't look so hot.
2007 - Arrives with no Selvin. Jamaal Charles is the man . . . but he can't get untracked. Hotshot freshman Vondrell McGee dazzles us with his speed and power. We love him. We clamor for him to start. He is clearly better than Jamaal Charles.
So is he really? Benson was validated by a QB who took the pressure off of him. Without Vince, every single back we have (outside of Hodges Mitchell, who I believe had a death wish) got soft somewhere in his career. Vince single handedly made Cedric Benson a multi-millionaire. Look up Benson's highlights on Youtube. Just like the NFL, you won't see Chance Mock in there anywhere. Benson made his money while opposing LBs watched Vince.
Occasionally, late at night, Benson sends Vince "i can't quit u" text messages.
You can see the difference between 05 Jamaal and 07 Jamaal. He is slower. He is less willing to head into the pile. He won't cut upfield. His confidence with the ladies is probably gone. Just like Benson in 2002. I think it's the same reason: there is just nowhere to run, and they are trained to expect it. If you ran into a wall 150 times, you'd certainly not have the same gusto on your 150th attempt as you had on your 1st (aside from Hodges, of course). He's literally had his will to run beaten out of him.
We know Jamaal has the talent, we know Greg Davis is a buffoon, and we know our OL is less than stellar this year. So out of those three things, I ask you dear reader, where do you place the blame?