Ask Marshall football running back Remi Watson the two best pieces of advice first-year running backs coach Chris Barclay gave him and his answer may shock you, a compass and a toilet.
No Barclay was not playing a practical joke but rather providing Watson with valuable tools to help the redshirt junior perform to his expected potential.
How is Watson supposed to use these two items to make himself a better runner? It all started after a straight forward talk from his coach.
“The best thing I’ve told him (Watson),” Barclay said. “It’s a revolutionary statement. I said I don’t know if you know this Remi but the end zones are north and south. The quicker you can get north or south, the faster you can get in the end zone. I would hate for you to run 20 yards east and west to gain three yards or five yards.”
Barclay may know a thing or two about scoring after finishing a stellar career at Wake Forest where he was named the 2005 ACC Player of the Year and the Offensive Player of the Year. Barclay also set seven school records including rushing yards (4,032), scoring (240 points), rushing touchdowns (40), total touchdowns (40), all-purpose yards (4,930), 200-yard rushing games (3) and 1,000 yard rushing seasons (3).
|Running Backs Coach Chris Barclay|
So what does Watson attribute his sudden surge thus far in camp? Listening to his coach’s advice and putting it to use in practice.
“I told myself once again like I do every day when I come out to practice, north and south, north and south, north and south, as quick as possible,” Watson said.
Entering his third season with the Herd, Watson said past experience meant nothing and Coach Barclay was very clear on what was expected from the junior.
“He (Barclay) gave it to me how it is with no beating around the bush,” Watson said. “No just thinking you have arrived because I played as a freshman. I got to work every day when I come out here.”
Watson understands there is work to be done, especially if he plans on rebounding from a sub-par 2013 season. Watson’s rookie season in 2012 saw the kid from Lakeland, Florida rack up 380 yards on 79 carries and seven touchdowns while averaging 4.8 yards per carry. His best performance in 2012 came in a 54-51 win over Rice when he finished with 14 carries for 84 yards and two touchdowns.
However, Watson’s rookie production did not continue in 2013. Watson struggled finding his place in the depth chart behind Essray Taliaferro, Steward Butler and Kevin Grooms largely in part to his running style consistently running him sideline to sideline with little to no gain, therefore stalling the Herd’s high-octane offense.
Watson played in only nine games in 2013, none of which he started, after playing in 11-of-12 in 2012 and starting four. Watson’s 2013 stats plummeted to 120 yards on 30 carries with no touchdowns and his best game of the season did not come until Marshall’s Military Bowl victory over Maryland when he gained 42 yards on six carries including a 19-yard run.
So what does Watson have to do this season to find increased opportunities in an extremely crowded backfield? For starters, he must heed to his coach’s advice.
“Coach Barclay laid it on the line,” explained Watson. “If you want to play, you’ve got to add this to your game. If you don’t, it’s not that you aren’t talented enough to do it, but if you chose not to add that to your game, we will find someone else who will.”
|Watson works during a drill in camp|
Watson seemed to take Barclay’s advice after having a decent performance in Saturday night’s scrimmage. Watson tallied 11 carries for 51 yards (4.6 yards per carry) and a touchdown including a five-play 25-yard drive that Watson carried the ball five times.
Watson started slow in the scrimmage with runs of 1-yard and no gain. However, Watson stayed the course stringing off runs of three and nine yards in back-to-back carries. More importantly, Watson never seemed to lose his composure on the field.
That must be music to Barclay’s ears.
But while Watson’s numbers appear to be returning to those of his rookie year, Barclay demands him to play the next play and forget what happen on the last, or simply flush the toilet.
“Coach Barclay always tells us when something doesn’t go your way you have to flush the toilet,” Watson chuckled. “If you have a bad run, he wants us to do the same thing. You’ve got to take what you are given. I can’t get mad and frustrated I just have to stay with the program and my runs will come.”
Watson said he starts fresh every day, no matter the previous outcome.
“Even if you have a good practice when you come out the next day he’s going to ask you about it,” said Watson. “He will ask me how did I practice yesterday. I just tell him, I don’t know coach I flushed the toilet.”
Leading up to and during the scrimmage, Watson’s running lanes were much different than that off old. He worked largely between the tackles and often waited for a lane to develop before attacking at just the right time. As represented by last season’s team production, a solid running attack makes Rakeem Cato’s high-powered air attack even more effective.
Perhaps this truly is a new version of Remi Watson that has heeded Coach Barclay’s advice and turned over a new leaf in his style of running. But take caution should Watson revert to his old running ways as the outcome could get messy in a hurry.
Hopefully for Herd fans Watson has flushed the toilet of his old ways for good and there are no clogs along the way in the system.