Replacing a running back like Joique Bell isn’t something that can be done overnight, but Wayne State made some big strides on Saturday in finding their next go-to-guy to lead the offense.
In fact, the Warriors found two gems at the running back position in junior Josh Renel and redshirt freshman Toney Davis that appear more than willing to carry the load.
Though the duo have two completely different styles, they both found a way to get the job done against one of the conference’s elite in Northwood.
Known for his quick feet and sharp awareness, the 5-foot-8, 187 pounds Renel was involved more on the special teams side his first two years and saw limited time on offense. Whereas Bell was an every-down back, Renel was put into the offense in special situations, raising questions as to whether he could endure the physical punishment that comes with the position.
After running for 192 yards and three touchdowns against the Timberwolves, including a pair of runs for 30 yards or more, it’s safe to say that Renel has proven his worth in joining a long line of talented backs that have donned the Green-and-Gold.
At 5-foot-10, 205 pounds, Davis is of a similar build to Bell and complements Renel’s track-star speed with a power running game. Not afraid to take a hit or deliver one, Davis left his mark on Northwood defenders in more ways than one after compiling 114 yards and a touchdown.
Whereas playing more than one quarterback can create a controversy, having a running back-by-committee can be beneficial, and has become a growing trend in the college and professional game.
Need proof? How about the firepower Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson provided with the Kansas City Chiefs and in the early-to-mid 2000s. Or perhaps the fear Clemson’s C.J. Spiller and James Davis put into some of the best defense’s the ACC had to offer.
While some fans might yearn for a more traditional, workhorse back like Bell was, by having Davis and Renel split time at the running back spot, it will likely cut down on injuries and inject a whole new slew of possible schemes and plays into the offense.
And let’s not count out some of the other backs on the depth chart like the versatile Jordan Kidd or bruiser Jessie Johnson, both of whom could very well see significant playing time later this season.
If Saturday’s win was any indication of what’s ahead for the Warriors, then look for Wayne State to deliver plenty of knockouts to the rest of the GLIAC with whatever one-two punch they choose.