Tuesday Lunch: The Need for Pead

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Pead NC State.jpgCarving a niche on to the good side of the scribes isn't difficult. Either bring us free food, offer a unique perspective or bring the funny. From that point forward we'll always be happy to see you.

Isaiah Pead always delivers two out of three and I've never seen him holding baked goods.

Such was the case today at the media luncheon, when Pead entertained us for about 13 minutes talking about the momentum for this team, his NFL equivalents, wearing Jim Brown's number in Cleveland, not having Internet or cable and his fantastic old-school, high fade haircut.

First off, it should be noted Pead has established himself as one of the premier backs in all of college football and the numbers back that up. In fact, if you assume he will play full games the rest of the year and take the two complete games he's played to this point (Tennessee and NC State) as the standard, here's a glance at what his numbers would be:

Current: 54 attempts, 424 yards, 7.85 average.
Vs BCS foes: 41-322, 7.85
Projected final 8 games: 164-1,288
Projected season total: 218-1,712 yards

For a point of reference, last year LaMichael James (Oregon) led college football with 1,731 yards. Mikel LeShoure (Illinois) was second with 1,706.

That many yards would place him in the top six nationally in total yards any of the past four years. Of the 21 running backs to finish in the top six in yards each of the past four years who were eligible for the NFL Draft, 18 were selected. Pretty good company, too. 

Here's the list:

Kevin Smith (drafted by Lions), Matt Forte (Bears), Ray Rice (Ravens), Darren McFadden (Raiders), Jonathan Stewart (Panthers), Rashard Mendenhall (Steelers).

Donald Brown (Colts), Shonn Greene (Jets), MiQuale Lewis (undrafted), Javon Ringer (Titans), Jahvid Best (Lions), Kendall Hunter (49ers)


Toby Gerhart (Vikings), Ryan Mathews (Chargers), Dion Lewis (Eagles), Mark Ingram (Saints), Ryan Williams (Cardinals), Donald Buckram (undrafted free agent with Browns)

LaMichael James (Oregon), Mikel LeShoure (Lions), Denard Robinson (Michigan), Jordan Todman (Chargers), Bobby Rainey (Western Kentucky), Vai Taua (undrafted, Seahawks).

So, I was asking Pead a little bit about who he watches in the NFL and sees himself as. He had this to say:

"I really would like to go in and make my own name and have people say, I really play kind of like Isaiah Pead," he said. "I've been told that I might resemble a Marshall Faulk, back in the day. And I didn't know him at the time, I had to look him up, but Gale Sayers. I didn't know who he was."

After realizing how old we are, us old folks in the media notified Pead that Sayers was pretty good. One of the best of all-time, in fact. Pead said his high school athletic director told him that and after that he did some research on Sayers.

He does know who Jim Brown is, however. Most of that, he admitted, comes from Brown playing in Cleveland (Pead's from Columbus) and when he went to a combine camp prior to his senior year in high school at Browns Stadium.

They passed out shirts with numbers on them and I actually got 32," he said. "They told me I had to show out that day."

Still, Pead comes in at 5-11, 195 pounds, but looks around the NFL at a few backs fitting his profile and already knows he can succeed.

I am trying to get bigger and all that, but I definitely look at Jamaal Charles, Chris Johnson, even WR Percy Harvin," Pead said. "They all pretty much have my same exact size down to a T, 5-11, 195. I really paid attention to Jamaal Charles this past season because he is my size and a very elusive person, speed, and I liked him as a player when he was at Texas."

For the record: Jamaal Charles -- 5-11, 199; Chris Johnson 5-11, 191; Percy Harvin 5-11, 184. 

"The smaller guys have been having success, they have been coming in, changing the speed a little bit, the tempo," Pead said. "You still have your big bruiser backs, it's a nice 1-2 combination. To go to the NFL and be one of those quick, swifty guys that comes in third down, second down maybe, and just kind of change the mindset of defense and defensive coaches, I'm up for it."

Though, it's a wonder how Pead knows so much about NFL running backs considering he has cut himself off from the world. He said he doesn't have the Internet or cable at his house.

"I'm trying to cut back on the bills a little bit," he said.

Cutting back on the rumor mill is a nice touch to avoid getting caught up too much in any NFL Draft talk.

"Projections are great," he said. "To hear yourself and how people talk about you is a good feeling. But just as fast as they are talking about you it could be taken. You have to be focused and humble and really focus on the next task."


--- Some other notes from today's meeting with the media -- the Victory Bell was in the house.

UC has held the Bell for five consecutive years now. Nobody in the history of the series has ever won six times in a row.

By the way, this is the 116th meeting.

Not only has UC dominated in the win column, but the games haven't been close. The closest game during the span was a 24-10 Cats win in 2006. The average final score has been 39.6-11.2 (198-56).

Still, Zach Collaros said there is no looking pact the RedHawks or viewing this as a dead rivalry.

"We don't like Miami, they don't like us," Collaros said. "I don't think it gets lost. An immature team or a team with no leadership would look past this game."

If one aspect of this team has been made abundantly clear by nearly all players and coaches I've talked to is that there is no lack of leadership. So, to expect any kind of complacency coming off a big win while facing a MAC team would be ill-conceived. Going 4-8 is still too fresh of a memory. In fact, Collaros all but scoffed at the possibility.

"If you get complacent then you are just not a competitor considering the way we played last year and how our season was," he said. "There should be no complacency on this team."

For the record, UC has won eight consecutive games against MAC schools (of course none were against my strong Ohio Bobcats).

That said, Butch Jones reiterated Collaros' contention on complacency.

"When you are 4-8, every game should be a motivating factor," he said.

--- Jones called Thursday's game against NC State "the most complete game we've played."

Difficult to deny that.

One of the biggest lessons it taught the team was how good they can be when the prepare meticulously and are completely ready to play. Jones thought before the game this team was as ready as it could be. The results proved that.

"It showed me when we do the thigns we stress we can be a pretty good football team," he said.

--- Notes from the notes: UC leads the Big East in a number of categories. Here's the list:
Scoring offense (49.5), rushing offense (239.2), interceptions (8), punting (47.6), net punting (44.7), sacks against (0.8), third down conversions (52.1 %), turnover margin (+14/3.5) and red zone offense (95.7 %). Derek Wolfe leads the Big East with four sacks.

--- For those of you
wondering about new Miami coach Don Treadwell -- and I know you were -- he is a former UC assistant and spent the last four seasons as offensive coordinator for Mark Dantonio at Michigan State.

--- I'm working on a story on the success of the defensive line rotation for later this week, so keep an eye out for that. And of course, daily Breakfast.

Until then, a final word from Isaiah Pead.

Pead is old-school in about every way, including his strong, high-fade haircut. (Here's a look at it after the game Thursday) He says that baby will be growing vertically all season. By my estimation, we'll be making Kid-N-Play references by West Virginia week.

"I think it looks all right," he said. "As long as the season lasts. I am going to try to keep it blocked, if it starts to turn into a fro I am going to have to trim him up a little bit better."

A Class Act, indeed.

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