It was announced today that both of Kansas' two top running backs are out for the upcoming season. Senior Brandon Bourbon tore his ACL during practice, and senior Taylor Cox tore his Achilles tendon during a non-contact drill.
After last season, running back appeared to remain a position of strength despite the loss of James Sims. Darrian Miller had shown flashes of playmaking ability, and Cox and Bourbon would provide quality depth, along with incoming 4 star recruit Traevohn Wrench.
Now, Miller has left the program, Bourbon and Cox are out, and Wrench never made it to campus. Untested JUCO transfer DeAndre Mann looks to take over the starting role, with highly recruited freshman Corey Avery playing second string. Charlie Weis announced today that freshman safety Joel Dineen will be moving back to running back for depth, and that Tony Pierson may start seeing time back at his old position as well.
This is awful news for a team hoping to establish their identity as a run-first spread offense. Mann put up impressive numbers in junior college, and Avery has been wowing coaches in practice, but there's no way to look at the position as anything more than a question mark made up of untested players (plus Pierson, for whom injuries are a big concern).
The hope now for Kansas is that Mann can at least be an average quality back who can take the beating of being the main ballcarrier, and that Corey Avery lives up to the hype that earned him offers from the likes of Baylor, Nebraska and Ohio State. Quickly.