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What"s the biggest difference in this year"s Memphis running backs room according khổng lồ senior Kylan Watkins? Maturity.

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Memphis" four leading rushers from last season are back, and they"re all aware of what was said about their performance last season. But Watkins said they"ve listened và moved on from it.

"We heard it all," Watkins said. "We"re not being good. We"re not living up to the expectations. We think about it, but really we just have tunnel vision. We"re really just trying to lớn go out there and vì chưng the best we can."

There"s no shortage of motivation. Memphis rushed for 145.2 yards per game in 20đôi mươi, its fewest since 2013 (138.3). The Tigers had five sầu games with fewer than 100 total rushing yards.

Running backs coach Anthony Jones Jr. has preached to lớn his group it has lớn get better. But he"s also advised his players not khổng lồ feel burdened by the weight of the five sầu backs who shined from 2017-19 & are now in the NFL.

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"They have to understvà they are not Darrell Henderson. They are not Kenny Gainwell or Antonio Gibson," Jones said. "I tell them every day they are not them; they just have to go out and they have to lớn produce khổng lồ the best of their capabilities."

But there"s also internal pressure from younger backs pushing the veterans. Rodrigues Clark & Watkins, the two top rushers last season, are facing competition from not just returners Asa Martin and Marquavius Weaver, but also freshmen An"Darius Coffey và Brandon Thomas.

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Thomas, Jones said, is standing out early with his improved play. With several veterans held out, Thomas shined in the spring game, và he"s earned praise from other coaches who notice how much he"s developed.

"He"s probably the strongest baông xã in the weight room; he did well academically," Jones said. "Brandon has grown up from a maturity standpoint khổng lồ be one of the go-to guys in our offense this year."

Jones said there"s no phối rotation, but he"s cthua to figuring it out. The Tigers will stiông chồng lớn their usual plan of featuring two lớn three backs while trying khổng lồ find an established leader.

Watkins said the group understands the burden of past backs, & it won"t stop them from trying to restore the run game in their own way.

"It"s hard lớn live up to those expectations," Watkins said, "but I feel like a lot of guys in our room are capable of doing it."

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