Junior running back Terrance West has become the face of the offense for the Towson football team. Of course, that’s easy to do when you lead the Football Championship Subdivision in both rushing yards (1,130) and rushing touchdowns (19).
But the No. 8 Tigers (7-1 overall and 3-1 in the Colonial Athletic Association) are proving that they are more than just a one-horse engine at running back.
Freshman Darius Victor has carried the ball 31 times for 217 yards and four touchdowns. Junior Trea Jones has 34 yards and one score on 12 attempts, and senior Sterlin Phifer had rushed 23 times for 93 yards and one touchdown in three games before getting injured.
Victor and Jones each scored in Towson’s 44-17 rout of Albany this past Saturday, and developing that depth at tailback has been a priority for coach Rob Ambrose.
“It’s one of the things we have built towards,” Ambrose said Monday. “Before Terrance was the full-time back, we had a lot of guys that were playing that position and we were still running for around 200 [yards] a game. We were just plug-and-play with guys that were good football players and understood scheme. You guys forget, but Sterlin Phifer was having a real good beginning to the season before he got hurt. Terrance is always doing his thing, but we’ve got a bevy of backs that are all skilled, that are all hungry, and it’s great, great competition. Everybody wonders, ‘Why is Terrance so good?’ One of the things that makes him so good is he never rests on his laurels. He can never stop thinking that there’s competition because there’s really good backs behind [him] and competition breeds excellence in everything.”
Containing that group will be part of the assignment for Richmond (2-5, 0-3), which welcomes Towson to town this Saturday. Coach Danny Rocco is impressed with the Tigers’ running back corps, but there is another unit that caught his eye.
“It’s the offensive line that I think really grabs your attention when you’re watching the film,” Rocco said Monday. “Obviously, West is special. When they’re running the football, you have to flash your eyes back to see, ‘Who was the tailback on this one?’ But the thing that’s consistent is the offensive line. They’re big, they’re physical. [Senior Eric] Pike and [senior Randall] Harris at tackle are really good. [Senior Doug] Shaw at center is a really definitive player. So obviously, there are some weapons there. The thing that they do that probably impresses me the most offensively is their ability to play in multiple offensive groupings at a high level. That’s kind of the component of our offense that we’re lacking this year, and I kind of sensed it going into the start of the season. We were kind of depleted at tailback. But the ability to get big and run behind a big offensive line with multiple tight ends or fullbacks, but then also being able to go out there and get into four-receiver formations and have speed on the field with still the ability to hand the ball off or check the ball down to those running backs, I think they’re very, very balanced offensively and extremely impressive.”