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Traylor enjoying ASU's renewed focus on running game
Reggie Barlow messed up.
The second-year Alabama State head coach readily admits now that bringing in offensive coordinator Ben Noonan and his spread offense last year was a mistake. It was a hasty move that was destined for failure from the start, mostly because that style of offense couldn’t take advantage of the Hornets’ biggest offensive weapon.
Running back Rahmod Traylor.
“I made a huge mistake,” Barlow said. “I’ve told Traylor that. I actually went to him and apologized for what happened last year. It wasn’t right.”
An all-conference selection coming into the year, Traylor was supposed to pick up where former all-SWAC back Jay Peck left off and never miss a beat. But instead of pounding the ball, Traylor, who will never be confused for a finesse-style back, spent most of his time last year learning pass routes and blocking schemes.
And he spent precious little time actually carrying the football.
Through ASU’s first six games, Traylor never had more than 10 carries and three times had five or fewer. He gained only 223 yards in those games.
“It was tough,” Traylor said. “I like to run the ball. I like to get out there and compete. I did whatever they asked me, but it was tough not being a real big piece of the offense in some of those games.”
Traylor’s ever-shrinking role – and his almost complete exclusion from the offensive game plan some weeks – was ultimately the downfall of the spread offense at ASU. Barlow simply couldn’t watch his offense continue to struggle while one of its most talented pieces went largely unused.
“I just didn’t feel like I was getting what I wanted,” Barlow said. “That’s not Noonan’s fault. He did what he does. I wanted to get back to the physical running game that we had here to a degree.”
Throughout the spring, that’s what the Hornets have done.
With new offensive coordinator Richard Moncrief guiding the ship, ASU has returned to its power ways. Traylor is the centerpiece of an offense that relies equally on a physical running game and a short passing attack.
“I’m so much more comfortable,” Traylor said. “I talked with Coach Moncrief long before he became our offensive coordinator about what kind of offense he would run, and we’re doing exactly what he said would do. I liked it when he first told me. I like it now.”
The odd thing, though, is that Traylor is spending less time on the field this spring than he was last fall. Through 14 practices, he has participated in only three. And other players, such as sophomore Tim Clark and walk-on Quincy Smith, have been getting the headlines.
However, none of that has anything to do with the ASU scheme.
Traylor, who is on course to graduate this May with an education degree, is involved in an off-campus internship at Wetumpka Middle School, where he spends a large chunk of his days teaching physical education to an all-girls PE class.
The internship has limited his practice time and killed his normal football routine. Where he used to be able to spend his school breaks watching film at the football complex, now he’s several miles away.
“It takes some getting used to, because it’s like I’m not really in school at this point,” Traylor said. “I spend a lot of my time off campus. When I get back here, I’m running to catch up.”
There’s little doubt among the coaching staff that he’ll be able to do just that.
“We know what we have with Traylor,” Barlow said. “He works hard and has an incredible attitude. During that whole time last year, he never once hung his head or complained. He did what we asked, and he probably worked harder than ever. That’s the kind of guy he is. That’s why I apologized.”