Le’Veon Bell was outstanding for Michigan State last season. In fact, he wasn’t just the focal point of the offense, Bell was the offense. By season’s end he had totalled 1793 yards and 12 TDs, and caught 32 passes and another score. However when Bell was stopped, the Spartans were stopped, as the passing attack struggled to compensate. For his hard work, Bell was a second round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and has had some success this season. But where did this leave the Spartans? With a gaping hole at running back.
In the preseason, it looked like the Spartans would have trouble running the ball, with little-used Nick Hill and former linebacker Riley Bullough the leading candidates. The situation didn’t look much better early on, with MSU struggling to move the ball consistently on the ground. Then, in midseason, all that changed when the coaching staff realised the answer to their problems was already there in Jeremy Langford, who had shared carries up until then.
It turns out Langford is the kind of runner who gets stronger as the game goes on, which comes in particularly handy with the Spartans. Michigan State’s defense does a great job of keeping games close, and as the opponents defense starts to wear down as the game goes on, the junior’s hard-charging running style comes more into play. To show some statistics (thanks to CFB Stats) to support his success, Langford has rushed for 350 yards and 5 TDs on 86 first half carries (4.1 average), but has gained 576 yards and 8 scores on 113 second half attempts (5.1). It gets better – 21 carries on 3rd and short have netted 15 first downs and 6 TDs.
With 926 yards and 13 TDs on 199 carries this season, it’s unlikely Langford’s going to match Bell’s great output from the previous year, but you won’t hear anyone in East Lansing complaining. Not bad for a former cornerback.