I recently got into a debate on the validity of whether RB Arby Fields should remain the "starting" running back for the 'Cats. As most of you may know, the two-deep going into this week's battle with Minnesota has Fields noticeably absent from the list. Instead, Trumpy and Schmidt get the nod for the opening carries of the game. There are some who believe that Arby just hasn't gotten a chance to prove himself. That said, I decided to look farther into the numbers that Fields has put up so far this season. Let's take a look inside, shall we?
Opposing Rush Defenses:
Vanderbilt: 206 ypg, 4.41 ypc, has faced LSU and Ole Miss.
Illinois State: 145 ypg, 4.30 has faced two FCS opponents and one D2 opponent.
Rice: 163 ypg, 4.11 ypc, has faced Texas, North Texas and Baylor.
Central Michigan: 97 ypg, 2.60 ypc, has faced FCS Hampton, Temple, and Eastern Michigan.
A couple things to note of here. LSU and Ole Miss both outgained the 'Cats during their respective tilts against Vandy. Ole Miss, despite having a rough season so far, is ranked in the top 20 in rushing offense. That said, the Commodores are still giving up more yards than they should. Meanwhile, Central Michigan suddenly looks like a really good team on paper... until you see their opponents. I don't think Hampton remembered to get off the bus for the CMU game, and everyone knows Eastern Michigan's rushing offense is just AWFUL.
Arby's Production Against:
Vanderbilt: 10 rushes, -7 yds, long 6 yds.
Illinois State: 22 rushes, 96 yds, long 16 yds, 1 TD.
Rice: 17 rushes, 55 yds, long 9 yds, 1 Fum.
Central Michigan: 7 rushes, 16 yds, long 5 yds, 1 Fum.
TOTAL: 56 rushes, 160 yards, 2.86 ypc, long 16 yds, 1 TD, 2 Fumbles.
In some ways, I feel like I'm just rehashing the numbers that we've seen time and time again, but this reinforces a lot of issues that have come up since the start of the season. For one, this guy is really inconsistent. Bum shoulder or not, there is absolutely no way that Arby should have gotten negative yardage on the day against Vanderbilt, because their rush defense is just average at best, taking into account that LSU and Ole Miss like to run the ball. His "good game" against Illinois State still wasn't all that good... their defense looks good on paper, and ISU's a good team -- except, of course, that's relative to their play in the FCS. Central Michigan looks good on paper, but they've also made their opponents take to the air by putting them in a quick hole on the scoreboard. That, and Hampton was just terrible, to say it one more time. In a game where our offensive line looked pretty decent, the longest run that Fields managed against Rice was 9 yards. Nine stinkin' yards. You can't gain much momentum in a game if all you can't break open a good double-digit run every once in a while...
...oh. *pauses to watch a man dressed in green walking by*
Hi, Aaron Rodgers, how are you?
...sorry, got distracted there. Anyway, here are the strikes against Arby Fields.
1.) Your first-string running back shouldn't be averaging less than 4 yards/carry. Arby's averaging less than 3.
2.) He has adamantly been running away from the tackle box in hopes of finding daylight, only to be met with the nearest linebacker / cornerback waiting for him.
3.) You had negative yards in a game against an average-at-best defense.
4.) You fumbled away two big scoring drives in two consecutive drives in back-to-back games.
So Arby: Like Fitz did with Schmidt at the beginning of the season, it's time for you to ride the pine for a while.