Bulldogs plan to get the running backs involved in the passing game

Mississippi State running back Aeris Williams

Staff Writer

Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead isn’t going to be afraid to throw the football to the running backs this season.

It will definitely be a part of the offensive package for the Bulldogs and probably more than ever before.

During his time as the offensive coordinator at Penn State, Moorhead had running backs that were involved in the passing game.

Saquon Barkley had 54 catches for the Nittany Lions last season for 632 yards and three touchdowns on his way to being the first round draft choice of the New York Giants.

“I think the role of running back in our offense as a pass catcher has been well-documented,” Moorhead said recently during MSU’s on-campus media day. “One of the tendencies of this offense is the ability to get your speed in space. It’s not just about running between the tackles. How do we get them between the tackles and how do we get favorable matchups?”

It’s not that the running backs haven’t been catching passes at MSU, but it hasn’t been a major part of the plan.

Aeris Williams caught 16 passes for 142 yards for the Bulldogs last season and Kylin Hill only had four grabs for 38 yards. Williams had seven catches for 45 yards in 2016.

MSU quarterback Nick Fitzgerald has no problem throwing to running backs if it means a productive offense.

“Check downs are a huge part of any offense,” Fitzgerald said. “You look at the NFL and a lot of guys say they made a ton of money throwing to the running back. We have a good group of talented running backs and any time we get them the ball whether it be run or pass, it’s going to work out well for us.”