While fans have been clamoring to see freshman running back Akeel Lynch, Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien admits that he has a different plan in mind.
The current depth chart lists the starting running back as Bill Belton OR Derek Day. Unfortunately, both of those guys are day-to-day with injuries.
“Right. Those guys are day to day, so not sure if they’re going to be able to play. So it’ll be Dukes. You’ll probably, again, you’ll see Zwinak in there, two big guys and you may even see Michael Zordich do some things there. So that’s who we’re going to go with right now.”
Bill O’Brien has a stable of solid running backs, diverse in nature. Belton is probably the most complete back, while Dukes may be the best runner. Zordich is the true fullback and Zach Zwinak, a bit of a hybrid fullback/tailback. Behind them all, at least on paper, is freshman Akeel Lynch.
“Akeel is in the mix. Ideally I would really like to redshirt Akeel. I think he’s got a great future for us here at Penn State. He’s a very, very good player.”
Based on the current depth combined with the scholarship reductions, bowl ban and current recruiting efforts, the best thing for all parties involved may be to redshirt the freshman Canadian. While fans think he may be the answer, the chance of a true freshman offering enough to unseat the other four running backs ahead of him is not all that high. If he is not going to be a guy who takes over at least half of the running back touches, it’s not entirely wise to burn his redshirt.
However, the injuries at running back may just force O’Brien’s hand. Navy is a team that will be more than satisfied to run the ball for three to four yards a pop, sustaining long drives that wear out the Penn State defensive line. Penn State will have to counter with a running attack of their own in order to keep the thin front seven rested. If Day and Belton are both out, an attack of just Curtis Dukes, Zack Zwinak and Mike Zordich may not be enough.
Keep an eye on the statuses of those two and you may have an idea as to whether or not Lynch will see the field this weekend. If one of both of them go, I’d expect him to remain on the bench.
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