Matt Waldman’s RSP Boiler Room No. 306: RB Eric Gray (UT/OU) Space vs Leverage

Matt Waldman’s RSP Boiler Room returns with a look at RB Eric Gray, an explosive runner who must learn to run to the leverage advantage that his blocks deliver rather than looking for the biggest patch of open grass. 

“…and then he runs to open grass.”

I bet you’ve heard this well-worn phrase from a football analyst breaks down a play where a running back finds space. It implies that running the football is an instinctive exercise.

For some it is but in most cases, but the best backs can no longer get away (if they every truly could) with leaning on the raw skill of “heading where they ain’t.”

Sooners running back Eric Gray, a highly-recruited high school player who transferred to Oklahoma from Tennessee has been used on a lot of draws and other plays that either provide or simulate open-field space so it leverages his raw skills. This works in Division I college football but has limited returns in the NFL.

Here’s one of several examples I’ve seen of Gray where he opts to run to the most immediate open space rather than relying on the logic of the blocking scheme and the following the leverage that will eventually lead to the most productive open area.

If Gray can become fluent with reading the helmets of defenders on his blockers, and of course, truly anticipate how the play design will create these leverage points, Gray has the tools to become a productive NFL player.

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