UND FOOTBALL: Sutton injury shakes up running back rotation
Nov 16, 2012 (Menafn - Grand Forks Herald - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --UND running back Mitch Sutton's hard-nosed 65 rushing yards and two touchdowns were key in North Dakota's 33-29 win over Southern Utah two weeks ago.
The performance would be Sutton's last for UND as the senior suffered a broken collarbone late in the game.
As UND prepares for Saturday's season finale against Northern Colorado, the Green and White are searching for ways to replace Sutton's production.
The 6-foot, 220-pound Sutton is third in the Big Sky Conference with 11 rushing touchdowns and has 19 in his career.
Sutton, known for his powerful style, finished the year with 467 rushing yards and 134 receiving yards.
Although UND will miss Sutton's short-yardage ability, the North Dakota backfield is far from empty.
UND will move No. 2 back Jake Miller back into the starting role, a position he's been in 16 games during his three seasons.
Miller, who rushed for 942 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2011, has gained 489 yards on the ground in 2012.
"We'll still be who we are in the running game," UND offensive coordinator Greg Breitbach said. "Jake will take on a bigger role. We went into this season with Jake as the starter, so not much will change."
Moving up the depth chart behind Miller will be sophomore Jer Garman and redshirt freshman P.J. Sparks.
Garman, who played as a true freshman in 2011, ran for 270 yards last season. He has only 71 yards on the ground this year.
Sparks, meanwhile, has played in three games this season in mop-up duty. He has 97 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown.
Breitbach said the UND running game might adapt to the strengths of Miller and Garman.
"Mitch is more of a power runner," Breitbach said. "We might be on the edge more with Jake, but he's also pretty good inside."
With Miller (5-foot-11, 167 pounds) and Garman (5-9, 177) possessing slighter builds, Sparks (5-9, 192) could be called upon to offer between-the-tackle and goal-line running.
"He might fit in that role," Breitbach said. "The game will dictate our running back rotation. Jake will carry the lion's share and Jer will be a part of it. P.J. might be in the mix as the game goes on."
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