With the graduations of running backs Orenzo Davis and Tray Robinson, the Montana State Football team lost a major aspect of their offense. The two departed seniors racked up a combined 1,149 offensive yards during the 2012 season, totaling 15 touchdowns. That adds up to roughly 21% of the offense for the Bobcats last season.
Most Bobcat fans know all about Cody Kirk, the senior has been running over defenses in the Big Sky for a number of seasons and has scored 30 total touchdowns in his MSU career.
"Cody Kirk's a phenomenal part of this team and he's such a motivator for everybody because of how hard he works. I don't have to see Cody a lot in spring here and scrimmages," said MSU Head Football Coach Rob Ash. "We'll let him go some just because he's got to get used to the feel of the tempo and the calls for the new offense but maybe not as much in the live situations. He just has to get himself ready physically, because he's going to be tired at the end of each game I think."
Kirk hasn't had much time on the field for spring practices yet, his class schedule has conflicted with his football schedule. But, the Montana native has been doing his football homework, saying he's attended offensive line meetings to watch film, and get an understanding of their perspective so he can build a better bond with the big men up front.
Meanwhile, Johnson is set to see his playing time increase as he shares carries with Kirk, and his backfield mate says he thinks Shawn John, as the team calls him, is ready for the challenge.
"I expect big things from Shawn John, you know, he's a great player and he goes out and he makes big things happen. I'm looking forward to this next year and having him back there with me. You know, we lost two great running backs last year and so we've got to have somebody step up and I think Shawn's ready for that, he's shown that this last year," Kirk said.
New Offensive Coordinator Tim Cramsey says he's been anticipating working with the two running backs since he got the position in early February.
"They're two different types of backs that are both to me very efficient, and I think they compliment each other," Cramsey said, noticeably giddy about the prospect of working with two different style of runners.
"You know, you go back to the old term thunder and lightning, I mean that's kind of what they are. You know, I don't want to take anything away from Cody, because sometimes you say well he's a thunder back that means he can't run. Cody can run. And when you say Shawn John's a lightning back, all he is is a scat back back there, he's going to be physical too. So to me I don't like using that term, but that's kind of what they look like, and together it's our jobs as coaches to find the best fit to get those cats on the field at the same time," said Cramsey.
Add in the fact that senior quarterback and Big Sky Offensive MVP DeNarius McGhee can use his legs as just as much of a weapon as his arm, and opposing defenses should be sweating over the idea of trying to stop the trio.
Spring practices continue next week at Bobcat Stadium.