There were few surprises in Michigan State’s victory over Western Michigan, but there was a running back who made fans blink twice—freshman Le’Veon Bell.
Bell wowed fans and coaches by gaining 141 cards on only 10 carries—a staggering 14.1 yards per carry. He became the first player in Michigan State history to rush for at least 100 yards in his first career game.
That’s only half the story.
Bell’s patience was particularly impressive, especially for a freshman. The jitters were nowhere to be found, but it isn’t all that surprising.
Bell graduated early from high school in an effort to gain a head start on his collegiate football career. He took advantage of it, turning heads in the spring when he was picked by teammates over sophomore Edwin Baker in the inaugural spring game.
Bell’s sudden impact on the offense, as well as the cohesion among the offensive linemen, conjures a running attack of grandeur that may become the Spartans’ biggest weapon this time. Combine the fabulous freshman with Baker and Larry Caper, and you have a three-headed running attack sure to be a threat to every team the Spartans play.
Putting too much pressure on Bell may be premature, though. He had a great game against a pretty average team; the Big Ten competition is a different kind of monster.
One also has to take into account the return of Caper from his hand injury, how it will affect the tailback position, and how substitutions will be handled. Will each back split an even amount of carries? Will the coaches rely on the runner who is having the most success on any given Saturday?
The situation is definitely a work in progress for Bell, his fellow running backs, and even the coaches. You want to get everyone involved while still being able to get the most out of each player.
It will be interesting to evaluate the progress made by the running backs as the season goes on. It may prove to be Michigan State’s biggest asset when the season’s said and done.