By Justin Roberts
KINGSTON, R.I. - In order for a stable offense to work in football, both the passing game and the running game must perform well together. One doesn't work without the other.
Senior Harold Cooper is at the heart of the running game for Rhode Island. This spring, he and the other running backs are making sure that they hold up their side of this synchronistic relationship. Cooper is a three-time CAA Football All-Conference selection during his tenure with the Rams. He has 1,626 career rushing yards on 375 attempts, and he averaged a career-high 4.6 yards per rush in 2016.
A pivotal part of Rhody's running game in the past, Cooper knows what he needs to improve on to help the team and he sees his past success as just a stepping stone for what is possible in his senior season.
"I've been working on reading my holes better, being a better blocker and finishing my runs," Cooper said after practice Thursday morning. "For myself, I want to finish better than I have ever finished before and try to become an All-American this year."
Last season, Rhode Island ran for 1,237 yards and 12 touchdowns, an improvement of more than 200 yards and six touchdowns from 2015. Cooper recognizes the success that the running backs had last year and are having this spring, but he also realizes that there is still work to do in order to become the best rushing unit in the conference.
"The running backs have done well so far this spring," Cooper said. "We have a lot of new plays going in this year with the new tempo and no huddle, so we all have to get used to that and get better at that."
Cooper has now taken part in three regular seasons and four spring camps. He believes there is a difference in this rushing unit compared to previous years.
"This spring, you see more guys into it," Cooper said. "You see guys believing in the system this year. Everybody is figuring it out.
We're all getting older. We have more leaders on the field. You see everything is going as planned."
As for goals for the running backs, Cooper and the rest of the unit will keep it simple and use physicality to make plays.
"The main goal for the running backs is to play physical," Cooper said. "When we have the ball in our hands, we have to be physical with the defense and make plays."
Cooper Likes What He Sees from Running Backs in Camp
By Justin Roberts