It’s no secret the coach Satterfield likes to run the ball. In each of Satterfield’s first four seasons at Appalachian State, the Mountaineers had a running back carry at least 18 times per game. Coach Satterfield also likes a complementary backs behind the starter. Under Satterfield, the second running back has finished the season with at least 75 carries each of the past five years. In Satterfield’s first season at Louisville, Javian Hawkins averaged 20.3 attempts per game while Hassan Hall averaged 8.3 rushing attempts per game (108 carries). Micale Cunningham also ran the ball 122 times in 12 games but many of those were scrambles. On average, Satterfield calls around 6 or 7 quarterback runs per game.
Hawkins finished the season third in the ACC in rushing yards with 1525 yards. One of the two players who rushed for more yards that Javian will be playing on Sundays next season. AJ Dillon from Boston College rushed for 1685 yards and was drafted by the Green Bay Packers. The other, Travis Etienne of Clemson rushed for 1614 yards and decided to forego the NFL Draft and return to school.
While Etienne rushed for more yards than Hawkins, he also played 15 games compared to 13 by Hawkins. Etienne averaged 107.6 yards per game and Hawkins averaged 117.3. The only player in the ACC to average more yards per game was AJ Dillion who averaged 129.6 yards per game while playing in 13 games. Dillon was also the only player to get more attempts (318) than Hawkins (264). Etienne only carried the ball 207 times last season.
Of the five players in the ACC who rushed for over 1000 yards last season, only three return and those three look to be the top three again this season. Etienne, Hawkins and Michael Carter of North Carolina look to be the top backs for the 2020 season, barring a huge jump by another player or an instant impact freshman stunning the ACC.
So the question is, what running backs will supplement these three to help give their team the top running game in the ACC?
Last season Etienne and Lyn-J Dixon combined for 2,249 yards. Hawkins and Hassan Hall combined for 2,046 yards. Carter and Javonte Williams combined for 1,936. But again, Etienne and Dixon both played 15 games ( ACC championship, 2 CFB playoff games) compared to 13 by both the Louisville and UNC tandems.
Hall averaged 38.5 yards per carry while Dixon averaged 42.3 ypc. Williams averaged 71.8 ypc as a sophomore.
Louisville, Clemson and North Carolina look to be the top three schools battling to be the rushing leader in the ACC for 2020. Clemson will more than likely play at least 14 games this season while it seems likely Louisville and North Carolina will play 13. UNC could possibly play 14 if they win the Atlantic division.
From the Louisville perspective, I see Hassan Hall improving and averaging close to 50 yards per game. I also think Louisville will have more rushing yards in 2020 from the QB position that they did in 2019. I think we may see a few more designed QB runs and if /when Micale has to come out due to injury, Jawon Pass will be available and is much more of a runner than Evan Conley.
If Louisville isn’t the top rushing team in the ACC for the 2020 season, they will be very close to the top.