For a former quarterback that set passing records at every stop, Brad Laird is vocal about his desire to prioritize the run game.
It helps having weapons in the backfield like Qay’shon Thurman and Sontus Mitchell.
“Those guys have a lot of experience from last year and have continued that through fall camp,” Laird said. “They’ve done a good job and gotten better from last year.”
Thurman and Mitchell combined for nearly four yards per carry against a stout Neville defense that could be the best in its district.
“I feel like if we can block Neville’s defensive line, we can block anybody,” Thurman said. “They have (defensive tackle) Rashard (Lawrence), he has offers from everywhere. I think we can move the ball on anybody.”
Laird added, “We had some creases we haven’t had in the past against Neville and did a good job of finding those. They do a good job of running between the tackles even though they’re not very big.”
The equal threats Mitchell and Thurman provide have inspired the Bearcats to join the movement of two-back formations, placing them both on the field at the same time against Neville and surely to continue doing so in the future.
“We have a couple of packages where we’re just trying to find our best 11 to get on the field, so there are certain packages where they’re on the field together,” Laird said. “A lot of teams are doing that when they have the players.”
Thurman added, “We’re both threats. They have to key on me and him. It helps the offensive line.”
Whether they take the field together as a decoy for one another or give each other breaks in singleback sets, the weight of the offense on their shoulders is obvious. “We know it’s a lot,” Thurman said as matter-of-factly as he could, ni sense of exasperation. Laird finds that attitude in his duo admirable.
“They just love to go out and play they game, whether they have to carry it 40 times between them both or they have to protect 40 times,” Laird said. “It’s a very unique group to the point of they just want to go out and play.”
Mitchell added, “It’s not a pressure, it’s more of what we got to do.”