Others in the Running

Countdown to Missouri: part 7 of 9

The running game for the football team is dominated by one man, but many others play a big role coming out of the backfield.

Senior Marcus Merriweather is not the only person running with the ball, senior Scott Volk will be leading the blocking, rushing and catching passes as well.

"My role is blocking and to catch passes when they throw it to me," Volk said. "And when my number is called, to run, run the ball as best as I can."

Along with Merriweather and Volk, the Cardinal's backfield consists of backup tailback Scott Blair and fullback Mark Franklin.

"We definitely want to establish our run game," Merriweather said. "It's something we've always had in the past, but we want to improve.

"Maybe we could move up in the conference as far as offensive rushing yards."

Merriweather said the running game is strong because three players know the offense well and two having playing experience. Still, he said there is room for improvement in the backfield.

"I think you can always improve on the blocking of the running game," Volk said.

Merriweather said he thinks the running game should create more plays.

"We probably could have more big plays in the running game, break more tackles," Merriweather said.

Merriweather started 10 games last season, and Volk started six.

Volk focused on blocking last season, only rushing for 64 yards and pulling in seven receptions. Merriweather rushed for a Ball State-high 1,244 yards on the ground, 12 touchdowns and caught four passes in 2001.

"Overall, our running backs are all-powerful running backs," Volk said. "Some have break away speed, but most of them are power backs. I would say that is our strongest aspect."

Blair, Merriweather's backup, stands at 6-foot-1, 202 pounds. Franklin, Volk's backup, stands at 6-foot-4, 252 pounds.

Another aspect to the running game that was missed in 2001 was the run production of quarterback Talmadge Hill. During his freshman year, Hill rushed for 256 yards, then rushed for just 79 as a junior.

Hill said he expects to run the ball more frequently and effectively for the upcoming year.

"Hopefully you're going to see more running out of myself, and some more play-making," Hill said.

The Cardinal's future has several tailbacks and fullbacks coming through the system. Merriweather said freshman Brad Seiss looked good during the preseason. Volk said freshman Jason Sieman, a 6-foot-3 220 pound fullback from Texas looked good as well.

Merriweather and Volk are the veteran leaders of the backfield and offer advice to the all the younger players coming up.

The Cardinal backfield is confident and looks forward to playing Missouri, Saturday.


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