Pitt's Ray Graham benefits from Rushel Shell, decreased workload

Mark Konezny-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Pitt's Ray Graham is having a solid season so far. With 419 yards and four touchdowns on the season, he's on pace for about 1,000 yards and ten scores. But there's an interesting trend to note - he's done better this season when working on a decreased workload.

In the two games where he's rushed for more than 20 times (Virginia Tech and Syracuse), he's had his two lowest yard-per-carry averages, rushing for less than four yards on each attempt in both games. However, Graham's run roughshod over the competition when he's been used significantly less.

In his other three games against Youngstown State, Cincinnati, and Gardner-Webb, Graham has averaged only about 13 carries. But he's done much more with them, averaging 6.5 yards per carry. He also has had his two highest season totals among those three games when he ran for 103 yards against Cincinnati and 94 against Gardner-Webb.

The Virginia Tech game was one thing since Rushel Shell also had 20+ carries, but Graham benefited by having Shell and Isaac Bennett share the load in other games. Against Youngstown State, Bennett had ten carries. Against Cincinnati, Shell and Bennett combined for 13 carries and against Gardner-Webb, the duo combined for 19.

Now, look at what happened Friday against Syracuse. With Shell battling injury, he and Bennett had a grand total of only four carries. Graham took the bulk of the workload and struggled mightily, averaging only 2.4 yards a carry.

Graham is an exceptional back, but I think this proves that he could use some help and is a bit fresher when he can split carries with Shell and Bennett. Pitt will be much better served if Shell is healthy for Saturday's contest against Louisville.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics.

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