Bronson, Forte and Talley spearhead the Eagles ground game to supplement the potent passing attack
While the Eagles’ passing game has certainly garnered plenty of attention, the running game is equally important to Eastern’s offensive attack.
Eastern’s football team utilizes three primary tailbacks: junior Demitrius Bronson and freshmen Quincy Forte and Jordan Talley. Each running back brings his own style to the game. For first year running backs coach Kiel McDonald, having three unique runners allows the offense to keep the defense on their toes.
“You think of Bronson; he’s a big, physical, downhill A-gap to A-gap runner. [When] you think of the lightning aspect, you think about Quincy,” McDonald said. “Jordan’s always been the balance between both.”
Head coach Beau Baldwin agrees. According to Baldwin, each runner has their own technique. They each bring something special to the offense.
“Bronson has the most lead and he’s breaking that first tackle time after time,” Baldwin said.
“I guess compared to the other running backs, they call me ‘the machine’ and whatnot,” Bronson said. “If there’s somebody in the hole, yeah I’m going to run them over.”
“Then you bring in a guy like Quincy and he’s got a little bit more of that electricity and a little more ability to maybe make some of those plays in space,” Baldwin said.
“My running style’s more fast paced. [I am] more getting in and out of cuts [and a] more elusive style of running,” Forte said.
“It’s a true change up for a defense,” Baldwin said. “Then Jordan, … he’s probably the most steady and consistent. I remember last year as a freshman he had a couple 100 yard games against some really good opponents, and he would just do it in a workmanlike fashion.”
While each player has different traits within their game, Baldwin is still able to insert any of the three into any play in the Eagle offense.
“They all can run anything within our offense. So it’s not like I feel like with one guy I have to run with this type of stuff or with another guy I have to run this type of stuff,” Baldwin said. “I mean, they all bring it.”
Not only is each player able to run every play efficiently, but they are able to to be inserted into different situations. The coaches are comfortable enough with the runners that they are not limited by the position the offense is in. Whether it be first down or third down, a passing situation or a running situation, each back can be counted on.
“They all have to do it all. They have to be physical. They have to make people miss. They have to block,” McDonald said. “So it’s not about a third down or a situational thing.”
Not only is it advantageous to have three running backs of differing characteristics, it is important to have a fresh pair of legs in the backfield to carry the ball.
“The advantage really is to be able to be fresh down the stretch. Not one guy is taking a heavy beating,” McDonald said. “At this point in the season, they’ve all had game reps but they’re all still fresh.”
A running back’s job is not just about carrying the football. Running backs have to be able to block during passing plays. They also have to be able to run sharp routes and catch the ball out of the backfield. Not only does this make for a versatile back, it helps the entire offensive unit run smoothly.
“Everything is important. Whether I’m running the ball, whether I’m pass blocking, whether I’m going out on a route, it’s opening up something for somebody else on the team,” Bronson said. “Basically all aspects of the game is going 100 percent all the time.”
“You always want to be an all-purpose back. [You] block, run and [catch] out of the backfield,” Forte said. According to Forte, the acquisition of coach McDonald has made a big impact on every facet of the game, including pass-blocking.
Our form is a lot better, rather than just going in there and doing your own thing,” Forte said. “Coach Mac has helped us with our form and really helped us get with those linebackers and [defensive] tackles and [defensive] ends.”
For the coaches, it is essential for an offense to have a good balance. The running game needs to be clicking in order for the passing game to be successful. Offensive coordinator Aaron Best knows how important it is to set up passing game by first establishing the run.
“It was the mindset going into the year that coach Baldwin talked about being consistent with our balanced attack,” Best said. “Like anything, you run the ball effectively, it slows the pass rush down late in the game. Then when the play-action opportunities present themselves, then [the defense] is kind of caught off balance.”
While Forte, Bronson and Talley have different ways to run the football, all three work to make each other better.
“We always come out and compete. Every day off the field, we love each other like brothers,” Bronson said. “We’re like a little family. We all want each other to do well and we all want each other to succeed and I think we bring that to the field.”