STARKVILLE, MS - SEPTEMBER 8: Running back Nick Griffin #7 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs finds a big hole in the Auburn defense for a first down in the fourth quarter of a NCAA college football game on September 8, 2012 at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Mississippi. (Photo by Butch Dill/Getty Images)
Through three games this season, Nick Griffin has 7 carries for 33 yards. He did not get any carries at Troy. This was a guy who many expected, in the spring, to share the load with Perkins. But where's Nick Griffin?
When Griffin came out of high school many State fans were excited about his potential of power and speed. He was a 3-star coming out of New Augusta, MS (near Hattiesburg), listed at 5'-11" 200 pounds. Nick was a member of the Dandy Dozen. He scored 36 touchdowns his senior year of high school.
After redshirting his freshman year (2010), he was poised to get some playing time during the 2011 season. Reports of him being a hybrid between Vick Ballard and LaDarius Perkins made him look like the next great back at Mississippi State. Unfortunately he was sidelined due to a knee injury that spring, and it forced him to miss the first five games of the 2011 season.
Nick Griffin's only action last season was in garbage time vs. UAB and UT-Martin. He was able to rack up 108 yards on 16 carries and score a touchdown - but he never played in any meaningful snaps. But with the graduation of Vick Ballard, Griffin was expected to take the roll of "power back" in MSU's offense this season, as he now lists at 6'-0", 225.
Through spring and fall camp Griffin was listed on the depth chart as the number two running back. In fact, he is still listed as the number two running back, and that has never wavered. But the numbers don't back that up. Derrick Milton has twice as many carries as Griffin (14) and Josh Robinson has 16.
Why isn't Nick Griffin getting the ball? Reports of him in fall camp were that he was still a little timid, that he didn't have the confidence to run as hard as he needs to, which is common when coming off an injury.
I know "MacGrifferous" is only a sophomore, but shades of Robert Elliot are starting to creep in. Elliot was a 4-star out of Okolona, MS, and probably the biggest get (outside Derek Sherrod, probably) for Croom in the 2007 recruiting class. After redshirting the '07 season, Elliot suffered a season ending knee injury vs. LSU in 2008. He was never more than a 3rd string back after that - having career highs in 2009 and 2010 with 221 yards each.
Robert Elliot never seemed to be any sort of problem on the team, he just didn't pan out. Nick Griffin certainly doesn't seem to be a malcontent. Actually, he seems like one of the more fun-loving, goofy guys on the team. He inspired this fanpost I put up last week.
Maybe it's just the injury, maybe the other running backs are just better. It's hard to figure sometimes, for a guy who is expected to come in and do big things - but then hardly gets the ball. Hopefully we'll see Nick blossom before the year is out.
And on a similar note, what has happened to Brandon Heavens? He seems like a good player, who makes plays when called upon, and looks good in practice. But he has one catch for 9 yards this year (Troy game). The only other time he touched the ball was a -2 yard rush vs. Jackson State. He's not a big guy, but he does have some talent. His sophomore year Heavens had 22 catches for 316 yards, but now he's an afterthought. I know there are a ton of receivers on this team, but geez. Maybe it would have been better to redshirt him this year and have him come back for senior leadership next year. But, maybe he's ready to get on with his life after football.