Over the years, Stony Brook’s football program has become known for many things. Winning is one of them, but running the football trumps all.
Coach Chuck Priore bases a majority of his system on a successful running attack, allowing for the occasional deep ball to stun the defense. In the 2013 season, even with the devastating loss of star back Marcus Coker, the Seawolves were able to do just that.
James Kenner emerged from the depth chart to have a monster season for Stony Brook, epitomizing consistency all year long. On 191 attempts, Kenner managed to amass a huge 4.6 yards per carry. In other words, whenever Kenner touched the ball on first down, he cut the yardage his team needed to gain a first down in half. This gave the team plenty of 2nd and short opportunities, limiting the need to force throws.
One of Kenner’s major assets is the variety he brings to the table. Although he has endeared himself to Stony Brook fans as a rusher, he played on both sides of the ball at ASA College, a junior college in Brooklyn, New York. This shows that he not only has the ability to burst through the holes formed by the offensive line, but also the vision to see where the defense is coming from, with a mind trained by playing on that side of the football in the past.
This was shown by Kenner’s outstandingly low total of 40 yards lost in the 2013 season. Taking into account that on average, a rush for loss will come out to two to three negative yards, Kenner lost ground on only one every ten or so carries. In a new, strong conference with powerful defensive linemen, that is outstanding.
In order to keep his reps this upcoming season, Kenner will need to keep up the positive movement. In football, running outside the tackle is extra space to cover compared to between the tackles and the numbers, where it takes far less time to get to the second level, where the big yards are gained.
The projected starter for the Seawolves is Marcus Coker, star FBS transfer from Iowa who came to Long Island after the 2011 season. In 2012, Coker contributed to a statistically ridiculous backfield with NFL signee Miguel Maysonet. Even with Maysonet taking majority of the reps and accumulating over 2,000 yards, Coker managed to have a very solid year, crossing the thousand-yard milestone himself.
Coker had a lot to handle entering the 2013 season, but never really got the chance to follow through, succumbing to a season-ending abdominal injury. According to Newsday reporter Greg Logan, Coker carried the injury into the first two games of the season, before aggravating it and bowing out for a year, retaining one final year of eligibility due to medical hardship.
The heavy-running bruiser made a big name for himself across the country, especially as a power runner in the Big Ten Conference before coming to Stony Brook. As second leading rusher in the conference behind now-NFL star Montee Ball, Coker was expected by scouts to be a mid-round draft pick come the time he choose to move on from school, graduated or not.
With his injury at Stony Brook, Coker will be out to prove that he still deserves the ratings scouts have previously given him, and that he can lead the backfield-heavy Seawolves to Colonial Athletic Association contention.
Coker suffered a broken leg in a motorcycle accident this past spring semester, but should be ready to go come the start of the season.
Also adding to a strong running back group at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium will be Long Island native Stacey Bedell. As he neared graduation from high school, Bedell was looked at as one of the best if not the single best running back on Long Island, and he should help spread the reps throughout the Seawolves rotation. Bedell transferred from UMass, where he showed that he can perform against the best of opponents. Standing out from them all was last season’s game against perennial national powerhouse Wisconsin, against whom he rushed for a very solid 70 yards.
Although a bit on the smaller side, Bedell sports explosive speed, arguably the fastest on the offensive side of the ball, along with a good amount of pure athleticism which may translate to activity out of the backfield and perhaps opportunities in the passing game.
Tyler Fredericks, a freshman thrust right into the cauldron last season, will look to scrape out carries whenever he can, as he showed that he could find the holes last season, totaling 232 yards on the ground.
All in all, Priore and company have plenty of options. Seawolves fans should be ready for what will be an exciting season for Stony Brook running backs.