The Wisconsin Badgers storied history of dynamic running backs continues to march along with star tailback Braelon Allen holding the spotlight.
The junior tailback has rushed for over 1,200 yards in his two seasons with the program. Under a new offensive scheme, we may finally see Allen at his full potential.
Running backs in Phil Longo’s offense have seen meteoric success — think Javonte Williams and Michael Carter — and Allen looks to be the next in line to take off.
Here’s a look at how Longo’s offense has given running backs opportunities for success and how Braelon Allen can thrive.
How have running backs fared in the air raid offense?
In an air raid scheme, the first thing that comes to mind is the passing threat. However, that style of offense doesn’t only positively affect the quarterbacks and receivers. With a more spread-out offense, fewer defenders will fill the box, which is a welcome change after years of facing eight to nine-man boxes every Saturday.
Under Longo’s offense, running backs have seen plenty of success. In 2020, North Carolina had a dynamic running back duo with Javonte Williams and Michael Carter. Carter led the way for the Tar Heels, rushing for 1,245 yards and nine touchdowns. Meanwhile, Williams posted 1,140 yards and led the Tar Heels with 19 touchdowns. North Carolina finished with an average of 235.8 rushing yards per game, good for 11th in the country and second in the ACC.
Ty Chandler took most of the workload the following year after North Carolina lost Williams and Carter to the NFL Draft. Chandler filled their shoes well, as he notched 1,092 yards and 13 touchdowns. The Tar Heels’ running backs rushed for an ACC-leading 2,763 yards, which came in at 17th in the nation.
2022 was the first year that Longo did not have a 1,000-yard rusher, but tailback Elijah Green was still productive, posting 558 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.
Although the passing element is the most intriguing part of the air raid scheme, running backs have remained crucial.
How will the offense affect Wisconsin Badgers RB Braelon Allen’s production?
As stated before, the spread-out offense will pay dividends to Allen’s game.
According to Pro Football Focus, Allen registered 847 yards against 8+ man boxes in 2022, which led all running backs. On top of that, Allen has rushed for 1,661 yards against those boxes in his first two seasons.
Facing six-man boxes will allow Allen to get downhill and power through opposing defenses. The 6-foot-2, 235-pound tailback has been a bruiser in his first two seasons, and now that he’ll be able to get up to speed, defenses should beware.
The addition of Tanner Mordecai as Wisconsin’s QB1 will also be crucial for Allen. Mordecai isn’t just a dynamic passer; he can also use his legs well. The former SMU quarterback rushed for 302 yards and four touchdowns in his time with the Mustangs. His ability to rush the ball will keep opposing defenses on their toes, which takes some of the pressure off Allen’s shoulders.
The Wisconsin Badgers’ new offensive philosophy will be a severe change of pace from years past. If Allen can capitalize on the new scheme, we could see another Doak Walker award given to a Wisconsin tailback.
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