- Chantel Jennings, ESPN Staff Writer
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The talk of Pac-12 town this season is the quarterbacks. Yes, yes, we know.
But don’t forget the talent the league has at running back, too. The run game, after all, is what opens up the passing lanes for the signal-callers.
The 1,000-yard mark has acted as a benchmark for backs for years, so, how many Pac-12 rushers (for fun, let's include QBs) will hit the mark in 2014?
In 2013 there were four 1,000-yard rushers: Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey (1,885), Washington’s Bishop Sankey (1,869), Stanford’s Tyler Gaffney (1,709) and Oregon’s Byron Marshall (1,038). Only one of those guys, Marshall, returns in 2014, and even he is listed in a three-way battle for the starting RB spot at Oregon with Thomas Tyner and Royce Freeman.
In 2012 and 2010 there were six 1,000-yard rushers, and in 2011 there were seven. So what exactly will 2014 bring us?
Oregon has its three-headed monster (in addition to quarterback Marcus Mariota, who rushed for 715 yards last season). Will one or two emerge and become 1,000-yard backs? Or will they split carries, gain major yardage together and not have a single guy hit that mark? Could go either way.
USC has Buck Allen and Justin Davis and Tre Madden. ASU has D.J. Foster. Utah has Bubba Poole. Could Stanford’s Barry Sanders follow in his dad’s footsteps? Or will it be Kelsey Young who steals the show at Stanford? UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley accounted for 748 rushing yards last season. Could he add a few more long runs and hit the mark? What about one of his backs, such as Jordon James or Paul Perkins?
Colorado is pretty deep, Washington has options, and Oregon State says its run game is much improved.
With all those guys, how many 1,000-yard rushers will we actually see? History says it can range greatly. But what say you?