Healthy White to help ISU run game against Rutgers

NEW YORK James White has a late Christmas gift for Cyclone Nation.The Iowa State running back is finally healthy again.The rest we had this past week helped me, White said.Thats good news for the Cyclones, who will need White, and his healthy shoulder, to overcome a stout Rutgers run defense in the Pinstripe Bowl (2:30 p.m., ESPN) on Friday.Youve got to have threats out on the field, ISU coach Paul Rhoads said. When you dont have threats to break it and go the distance, you (need to) alter what you do as an offensive or defensive football team, and so having that threat back gives us an added dimension weve been missing as of late.Theres no doubt White is the Cyclones best threat out of the backfield.He emerged as the teams leading rusher, rushing for 701 yards and eighth touchdowns after Shontrelle Johnson went down with a neck injury. White injured his shoulder in the upset win over then-No. 2 Oklahoma State on Nov. 18. White was limited in the final two games and played sparingly.Backup Jeff Woody stepped up with White out, rushing for 85 yards and scoring two touchdowns at No. 11 Kansas State on Dec. 4, but White brings something different to the backfield, especially now that his shoulder is pain free.I commented to our strength staff on the sideline that I thought he looked very, very quick and explosive on the use field, Rhoads said. Any time you have any type of injury as a skill player, there is usually some tentativeness, and he doesnt have it right now on the use field.The Cyclones (6-6) will need White to find running lanes against a Scarlet Knight defense that allows only 146.6 yards rushing per game. The Rutgers scheme is designed to take away the run on first and second down with run blitzes, ISU offensive coordinator Tom Herman said, with the hope being opponents end up in third-and-long situations.They blitz close to 50 percent of the time, Herman said. Their philosophy is we are going to blitz you out of the run game and make you beat us with the pass, and teams havent been able t! o do tha t and havent been very successful running the football either. ISU wont abandon the run game, not with White back.So the Cyclones offensive line has used the last few weeks to watch tape, hoping to get an idea of what Rutgers (8-4) will throw at them.We lucked out with the bowl game, ISU offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele said. We have plenty of time to prepare. Weve been watching film on it for weeks.And its finally paying off.It actually just started clicking good this week when we got down here, Osemele said.It probably has something to do with White. The better hes been, the better the rushing game has been.Its been that way all season.Weve just got to make plays, White said.That will be easier to do with a healthy shoulder.I am good now, White said.No Rutgers QB decisionRutgers coach Greg Schiano said his starting quarterback will be a game-time decision. Either Chas Dodd or Gary Nova will start for the Scarlet Knights.Bobby La Gesse can be reached at (515) 663-6929 or at rlagesse@amestrib.com.


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