So with the Heels season beginning to stumble into a stretch of games that will likely be tantamount to some form of torture and a running game that is ineffective enough to endanger the passing game it is no wonder that the first guy who shows anything with the ball on the ground is going to get media attention. Such is the life of true freshman Ryan Houston. The rookie from Matthews, NC had been sheltered by the coaching staff who were either not sure if a redshirt was coming or not wanting to destroy the young man at the start of his career. That all ended against USF on Saturday when Houston was inserted into the game when matters were well out of hand. Houston acquitted himself well with 43 yards on 11 carries and one touchdown. Granted this probably came against the Bulls' second defensive unit but honestly you have to begin somewhere.
The media wasted little time profiling Houston here, here and here. As is standard for the media they are showing Houston a lot of love and dropping some implications that this kid is the solution for the UNC running game. And that could very well be the case but bearing in mind that this was his first game against the reserves I think we all want to see more before proclaiming the running game cured. The issue UNC has is the need for running game is beyond desperate. USF took advantage of the fact the running game was not a threat and dropped back in coverage for most of the game. And while Johnny White has shown some skill at the position it has not been effective enough to balance the offense out. Based on what I have seen the offensive line is decent in both pass protection and run blocking. White just has not been able to find enough running room. Perhaps a switch to a bruising back is just what the Heels need.
Unfortunately like most of this team, Houston is very young and will have more games that are learning experiences than anything else. Such is the life of a team learning to crawl before it can walk.