|McFadden has no plans to alter aggressive style|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 10 October 2007 22:51|
Darren McFadden running full speed into a defensive player with enough power to make you wonder who's tackling whom.
``That's my running style, and I don't feel like that's something I can just change in the middle of my career,'' McFadden said. ``It's something that I've been doing for the past 10, 11, 12 years, so it's something I'm probably going to stick with.''
There's not much to question about McFadden's ability. He was the Heisman Trophy runner-up in 2006 and remains one of the favorites this year. But he's missed the end of a couple games this season because of various bumps and bruises, leaving some wondering whether he can try to avoid taking so many hits.
At 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, McFadden is both fast and forceful. His stiff-arm, for example, has provided plenty of highlights. But he's also a big target, and since Arkansas relies so heavily on him, he's endured his share of punishment.
``The way he runs - he runs up high, and he's got this long torso,'' trainer Dean Weber said.
The stats are still great - 779 yards on 130 carries in five games. But McFadden missed the end of a close loss at Alabama with a concussion. He also left late in last weekend's win over Chattanooga with sore ribs - although the Razorbacks' comfortable lead in that game probably played a role in his departure.
McFadden's only major injury in college was his infamous dislocated toe - the result of a skirmish outside a Little Rock club before last season. He returned in time for the opener, and his other ailments have been fairly minor.
And as coach Houston Nutt points out, when McFadden and a defensive back run into one another, the tailback isn't always getting the worst of the exchange.
``He doesn't just try to absorb all the tackles and punishment, he gives it out, too,'' Nutt said. ``There's a lot of DBs and (linebackers) that are sore from the first four or five weeks, I know that, because of the way he runs. I wouldn't change a thing.''
Arkansas' play-calling has become an issue lately, with Nutt attempting to explain this week how the staff decides whether to run McFadden inside or outside.
``We try to keep the opponent guessing on that. Kind of depends on their scheme and what they're trying to do,'' Nutt said. ``You just try to mix it up.''
Kentucky coach Rich Brooks saw McFadden up close this year - the junior ran for 173 yards and a touchdown in Arkansas' 42-29 loss to the Wildcats last month. Brooks noted that although McFadden has occasionally been hurt, he hasn't missed much game time.
``Running backs, overall, have a tough time staying healthy, particularly in this league, because it is such a physical league and there are so many good defensive players in this league,'' Brooks said. ``I think he's done a pretty good job of it so far.''
But sometimes, even one missed series can change a game. McFadden ran for 195 yards on 33 carries against Alabama, but he was out at the end, and Arkansas couldn't run out the clock with a late lead.
Weber did say he'll occasionally caution McFadden on keeping his head up - leaning over and going helmet first into a tackler can be dangerous.
``I'd rather he not do that,'' Weber said. ``I do worry when somebody puts their helmet down and lowers their head.''
But in general, McFadden doesn't seem keen on changing his physical style any time soon.
``It's not something I'm going to shy away from,'' he said. ``I feel like the coaches know that.''