This summer, when we were debating whether or not the Hokies should redshirt running back David Wilson, one of the points commenters brought up was the possibility we'd need Wilson this year due to injury. Well as it turns out, we needed him due to injury.
The hamstring injury that has kept Ryan Williams out for the last 10 quarters of football is the reason one of the biggest trends in college football the last decade has been going to two- or three-running back systems. The lifespan for a running back is pretty short, so putting all of your faith in one back is foolish, especially today.
Williams went down with Virginia Tech sitting at 0-2 and trailing East Carolina, 17-14. If the Hokies didn't have the depth they have at backfield, this season could have gone from a disaster to a complete, unmitigated disaster.
Instead, Wilson and Darren Evans combined for 148 yards on 18 carries in the second half against ECU to lead Tech to its first win of the season. Against BC, Wilson led the Hokies in rushing and Evans scored their only touchdown of the game in a 19-0 win. And last week, Evans returned to his 2008 form and ran for 160 yards and two touchdowns in the Hokies' comeback against NC State.
It's impossible to keep three running backs happy, as was apparent when Wilson complained about his lack of touches following the JMU loss. But over the course of the season things will even out because of the nature of running backs and how RB coach Billy Hite operates. Guys will get banged up and Hite will go with the hot hand, which changes week to week.
Eventually Williams will return and he'll get his chance to be the hero for the Hokies in some future game. But the embarrassment of riches the Hokies have at running back gives them the luxury of allowing Williams to wait until he's 100 percent to return to the field without worrying too much about production from the running game.