Monday, April 7, 2008

Cheeseman looks like a big-play back

Junior running Jahre Cheeseman was one of two Virginia Tech running backs to run for over 50 yards in Saturday's scrimmage. Cheeseman ran for 53 yards on six carries, including a 43-yard run, according to

Whether or not Cheeseman will be Tech's No. 1 back going into next season remains to be seen. There's still two more weeks of Spring Practice and then all of fall practice left to determine Tech's rotation at tailback. However, Cheeseman's big run Saturday just added to his history of big runs for the Hokies.

He had Tech's longest run from scrimmage last year when he broke off a 70-yard run late in the fourth quarter against Georgia Tech last year in the Hokies' 27-3 win. He gained 14 yards on his other five carries in that game. In the Ohio game, Cheeseman had 17 yards on two carries, including 15 yards on a run in the fourth quarter.

I don't think Cheeseman will be the No. 1 back next year, but he is a good option as the No. 2 guy. I may be reading too much into two runs late in games whose outcomes were already decided, but I think he has a pension for the big play and wouldn't be a big step down from Darren Evans or Josh Oglesby.

What about Kenny Lewis? I still see him as a third-down specialist or a change-of-pace back. He's small, quick and shifty, which makes him a perfect third-down back.

You might think third-down specialists would be big, bruising backs capable of getting yards on second effort. However, the quicker running backs are better for third downs in my opinion because they get to the line of scrimmage quicker. I think they're better for third-and-short situations because of this. If the line breaks down in that situation, they have a better chance of still getting the first down than the big bruiser.

If Evans or Oglesby can emerge as viable No. 1 options, Tech should be just fine at running back. One of them will be the primary, between the tackles runner, Cheeseman can provide the big-play option and Lewis can be an excellent third-down back who can also catch balls out of the backfield.

However, if Evans or Oglesby doesn't emerge as the primary back, Cheeseman will have to step up in that duty. It's one he can perform, but that I don't believe he's best suited for. I'd prefer he be the No. 2 guy who breaks off big runs like the one we saw in the Georgia Tech game last year.

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