The Washington Times - September 15, 2008, 10:19AM

Whether or not Da’Rel Scott (sprained left shoulder) actually plays or not on Saturday – and he’s questionable – his impact on changing the look of the Maryland running game is undeniable.

Tailback is one of the more replaceable positions on the field. You see it every week in the pros and the college game. But Scott is offering up an Orwellian twist to the gridiron: All tailbacks are replaceable, but some are more replaceable than others.

SEE RELATED:


Because the Sunday night game yesterday was painfully tedious and because it sure seems like Scott is a different sort of talent, I sifted through the play-by-plays of every Maryland game since 2005 to come up with a look at just how explosive Scott really is.

I found every run of at least 16 yards (offensive coordinator James Franklin’s definition of an “explosive play”) and then added them up for Scott, former Terps Lance Ball and Keon Lattimore, and true freshman Davin Meggett.

Tailback16+ Gains
Attempts 
Explosive Pct.
Ball
255494.55
Lattimore 
134382.97
Scott117015.71
Meggett2229.09

Well now. That’s quite a difference.

Maybe the most startling thing on this entire chart is the fact Scott already owns nearly the same number of 16-yard gains as Lattimore managed in his career – in a little more than six times as many attempts. And Lattimore (a high school wideout) was supposed to be the explosive portion of that recent tandem.

Ball’s numbers are more predictable. In 37 games over the last three years, he had a 16-yard run in 20 of them. And he didn’t pick on lousy teams for his big runs; 20 of them came against ACC teams, with another two against Rutgers in 2007 and one more against Purdue in the 2006 Champs Sports Bowl.

In short, Ball’s numbers spell out what everyone already knew about him: He was a rugged, generally dependable up-the-middle runner who occasionally found his way into open space.

Scott, meanwhile, had had at least one rushing attempt in seven games. He’s busted at least a 16-yarder in six of them (he had just one carry in the Emerald Bowl). That’s a big play more often than “occasionally.”

Let’s take a deeper look – totaling up the runs of at least 25 yards:

Tailback25+ Gains
Attempts 
Big Run Pct.
Ball
95491.64
Lattimore 
54381.14
Scott5707.14
Meggett1224.55

And the quantity gap between Scott and Lattimore is already gone.

I could keep going with this all day, and the numbers keep looking better and better for Scott.

So it’s fair to say that while any running back is replaceable because of the nature of the position, Scott already looks a little more valuable than his immediate predecessors – and he’s just three games into his sophomore year.

Patrick Stevens