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Friday, October 4, 2013

Return of SMU running back Traylon Shead adds wrinkle to Rutgers preparation

SMU's Traylon Shead in a Texas Class 1A state title game at Cayuga High School. Shead will likely appear against Rutgers on Saturday, his first game since the season opener. (AP Photo)

By Tyler Barto
Twitter: @Tyler_Barto

When Rutgers lines up against SMU's offense Saturday, the Mustangs' primary rusher could be someone the Scarlet Knights' have few highlights of.

Junior Traylon Shead was cleared Tuesday after suffering knee and ankle injuries in SMU's season opener, according to The Dallas Morning News.

His return should be a welcome sight for SMU, which ranks in the NCAA's bottom third in rushing. Shead rushed for 22 yards on nine carries in his only outing against Texas Tech.

"I can speak statistically — they have not been as productive in the run as they've been in the past," Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood said Wednesday. "I know when he was their guy, they were more productive."

IN PRINT: Rutgers opens conference schedule with still-fresh memories

Flood had yet to see film on Shead, who spent time at Navarro Junior College and Texas. He says he's familiar with the offense from his five-year coaching stint Hofstra, which adopted a similar offensive philosophy to SMU's run-and-shoot.

"In that offense, it's usually about the numbers," Flood said. "When the numbers present themselves in the box, if it's similar to what I coached in, there's a count system in place where if there is a certain number of defenders in the box they'll run. If there's a certain number of defenders in the box they're going to throw it. Some of those throws are considered runs in that system."

MORE: Who could be forced to play defensive tackle against SMU?


As part of an ongoing series, The Trentonian will take an in-depth look into certain concepts with Rutgers' schemes and explain them through the eyes of the players.

Part 6 focuses on the schematic differences between running against 4-3 and 3-4 defenses.

Left tackle Keith Lumpkin explains:
"In the 4-3, the 'backers are back. Now in 3-4, there are two 'backers that are down on the line of scrimmage. You have to be able to pick them up. The middle guys are still back there, but the now there are two 'backers on the end. There's an extra 'backer in there. You have to be able to pick those guys up before you can pick up the inside ones. You have to know who you're blocking."
More Terminology Talk

Lumpkin said offensive coordinator Ron Prince hasn't shifted permanently from the zone-based run offense he installed during training camp. Prince has simply adjusted — either zone or gap running, in which linemen pull and pin or downblock a defender — based on an opponent's defensive front, Lumpkin said.

"You can't run the same things that you would in a 4-3 against a 3-4," he said. "It's just not going to work schematically."

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