Football: Bachér, Cats will focus on running

Matt Forman

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

Throughout spring practices, offensive coordinator Mick McCall has stressed that running the ball will be a key to the Cats’ success this season. And Saturday’s scrimmage proved just that.

The offense ran a total of 156 plays in the two-hour scrimmage, 96 of which were running plays. A big portion were designed quarterback runs, which McCall implemented for the first time this spring.

“I think an important thing about today is that we ran the quarterback a little bit, which we needed to do,” McCall said. “They haven’t been live in a situation yet, and most of them were live today. I think that was a good situation for them.”

A season ago, quarterback C.J. Bachér rushed for 284 yards and four touchdowns. Running with the quarterback in the spread offense is important, as evidenced by the success of Texas’s Vince Young and Florida’s Tim Tebow.

Getting Bachér involved on the running attack will help open up the field in the passing game, McCall said.

“That can make them bring another linebacker in the box, then it’s a lot easier to throw the ball,” he said. “With success, you can force the defense to bring another guy into the box, and then you’ve got less guys in coverage.”

With McCall emphasizing the run throughout the spring, he said he would definitely factor in Bachér’s rushing stats when analyzing how well the team is running the ball.

“That’s part of running the ball and that’s part of us,” McCall said. “Our quarterback running the ball is a big part of us running the football.”


Drake Dunsmore, Brendan Mitchell and Mark Woodsum. While they may not be the most well-known offensive weapons on NU or play a highly regarded position, they provide a different dynamic to the Cats’ offense.

They play superback. And McCall said he would try to get them involved in the offense in as many ways as possible.

“The superback is a combination of a tight end slash fullback slash receiver,” McCall said. “He’s a do-everything kind of guy. It encompasses a lot of different things. Some of those guys are line guys for the most part. Some we can hand the ball off to and some can go out of the backfield and catch the ball. They’re pretty versatile guys, we’re just going to use them in a lot of different situations.”

The superback functions as a threat out of the backfield and a safety valve for Bachér, especially deep in opponents’ territory.

“There’s no doubt that the superback is another weapon,” McCall said. “He’s a big, physical guy that really can body up in the red zone a little bit.”

Last year, Woodsum caught a touchdown pass in a red zone situation, and Dunsmore totaled 141 yards receiving, most of which came when he found a seam over the middle of the field.

When is the superback most effective? According to McCall, it’s when they’re on the field contributing.

“We know they’re doing well when we can play those guys on every down,” he said. “Then the defense has trouble lining up to different sets out of that personnel group, because then they have to be a little bit vanilla.”


Returning to Ryan Field on Saturday was a great feeling for the Cats’ leading receiver.

“It was great to be in here, and I love grass surfaces,” senior Eric Peterman said. “This is one of the best, if not the best, grass surfaces in the Big Ten – and the nation. The turf gets a little hard after a while. It’s always great to be in the stadium where we play every home game on natural grass. I love it.”

To prepare for Saturday’s Spring Game, NU scrimmaged for the second time this month. It was the last time the Cats would practice or play at Ryan Field before the Spring Game.

Bachér relished the opportunity to take some snaps in the stadium.

“There’s a different feeling out here,” he said. “It’s good to get out here and get going and play some live football.”