Football Outsiders, the leading purveyors of advanced football statistics, are concerned about Javon Ringer’s workload to date, comparing him to current Lion Kevin Smith, who carried the ball 450 times for Central Florida last season:
One of the factors at least partially mitigating Smith’s huge workload last year was that he was playing in Conference USA against a relatively smaller, less talented group of players than he would in the NFL. Ringer really has no such excuse; although he hasn’t got into the most difficult part of his Big Ten conference schedule, he’s playing some of the largest — and most talented — defensive lines in the nation. Since 1996, Conference USA has sent 36 front seven players to the NFL; the Big Ten’s sent 118.
(One of FO’s basic working theories is that “A running back with 370 or more carries during the regular season will usually suffer either a major injury or a loss of effectiveness the following year, unless he is named Eric Dickerson.”)
FO also notes the decline in Ringer’s average yards/carry from 5.9 last year to 4.8 this year. While I certainly agree that Ringer’s workload is a cause for concern for MSU fans–and won’t be good for his NFL draft status– I would note that at least part of the reason for the decline in his yards/carry is that he’s now used in short-yardage situations, whereas Caulcrick handled nearly all those attempts in previous years.