Bearcats' Isaiah Pead does more with less

Isaiah Pead wonders sometimes what he could do with more carries. But at the same time, he's almost grateful that he's not getting a Dion Lewis-type workload.

"When I get 15 to 18 carries, my body is sore after the game," Pead said. "I can only imagine what I'd feel like after a 40-carry game."

The Cincinnati running back makes the most of his limited opportunities. Pead rushed for 806 yards last year while averaging 6.7 yards per carry. Only five players in the FBS had higher yards-per-carry averages while producing at least 800 yards.

Pead's 121 carries, though, were almost exactly half of what Noel Devine got at West Virginia and a little more than a third of the handoffs Lewis took at Pitt. Pead's season high for attempts was 18 against West Virginia, and he ran for 175 yards in that game. He also had four games of six carries or fewer.

But the junior -- who was named to the Maxwell Award watch list earlier this month -- insists he's fine with not getting a ton of touches.

"In high school, I got about 15 to 18 carries a game," he said. "So I've always had a modest, mellow number of carries.

"You've just got to go out with no expectations, just go out and play and do whatever the team needs you to do. Then you worry about the stats afterward. There were games where I only had four or five carries, but I was in for a good number of plays. And I have to do my job when I play."

Pead's role could increase this season. Last year, he split time with senior running back Jacob Ramsey. This year, he's the unquestioned No. 1 back, even though senior John Goebel is healthy again and scatback Darrin Williams will get some looks. Pead says he's approaching this year with a different attitude.

"As the No. 1 back, you've got to be more focused, more mentally strong," he said. "You've got to go out and set a tone."

The running game was usually the secondary option in Brian Kelly's pass-happy offense. New coach Butch Jones uses a similar attack, but Pead says there is more emphasis on the running game.

"He runs the ball more, which is a good thing," Pead said. "The past two years, we've been successful without running the ball much, but to win football games, most teams have to run the ball. I'm looking forward to it."

And a lot of people are looking forward to seeing what Pead can do with more opportunities.