Richardre Bagley, Kyle Nalls and Alex Trotter were supposed to be the primary pieces of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga backfield in the 2017 season.
But there's a good chance all three will be given at least a glimpse this afternoon.
With all-conference senior Derrick Craine unlikely to play against Virginia Military Institute in the 2 p.m. game at Finley Stadium, Bagley, Nalls and Trotter will be looked upon to carry the rushing load against a good Keydets run defense.
Craine has 715 yards rushing on 103 carries with nine touchdowns this season. Bagley, a junior, is expected to get most of the carries in his absence, but sophomores Trotter and Nalls will be looked upon to produce as well.
"We just have to make sure they get plenty of reps in practice, and try to put them in the best situations possible," running backs coach Shawn Bryson said Tuesday. "Richardre hasn't been the guy, so it's an opportunity to step up and he has been playing well and making some plays. Alex is going to be in the mix, as is Kyle, so we're just going to approach this week as a chance to get it going."
Trotter, a former McCallie School standout, has only 94 yards on 25 carries in his UTC career, but head coach Russ Huesman indicated he has the skills to be a viable option against a VMI defense ranked fourth against the run in Southern Conference games.
"Sometimes when you're the third back, you don't get a lot of work in practice," Huesman said. "He'll get a lot of work and he'll get confident.
"We've got confidence in Alex, no question about it."
Nalls had 41 yards on seven carries in the 66-0 season-opening win over Shorter. Offensive coordinator Jeff Durden said he has confidence in the 6-foot-1, 210-pounder, as well as in Bagley and Trotter. The fact they were able to get additional repetitions this week that they wouldn't normally get will only help the Mocs in today's game.
Durden also added that there may be a couple of packages for backup quarterback Tyler Roberson, a gifted runner.
Quarterback Alejandro Bennifield is already comfortable with the backup running backs, having worked a lot with all three when he was the backup quarterback last season. He said timing would be the key.
"Me and Richardre already have great timing, but we have to get Trotter and Kyle on board," Bennifield said. "We've practiced together a lot, but actual game time is different.
"We're going to get a lot of reps with those guys that will come in handy this week."
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