October 14, 2010
If Air Force coaches are right, and Asher Clark has only started to tap into his potential as a tailback, one has to wonder what kind of numbers Clark might produce the rest of his career.
The junior is pretty good already. He is on pace for a little less than 1,100 yards this regular season and averaging 6.4 yards per carry.
About two years ago, Clark had not played tailback. He was one of the many high school quarterbacks Air Force brings in.
Clark didn’t move to tailback right away, practicing for a few weeks at quarterback as a freshman before coaches gave him a chance to move to running back.
“It wasn’t out of necessity, where you’re really light at a position,” Falcons coach Troy Calhoun said. “He deserved to play.”
Calhoun is still surprised at how quickly Clark took to the position. He was moved during the season, and as Calhoun breathlessly recalls, a week and a half later he was playing tailback in a game.
Calhoun said the second half of last year Clark started to show he was grasping the nuances of the position. In his past 13 games, including a bowl game, Clark has 1,101 rushing yards.
Clark downplayed how challenging it was to change positions.
“There’s not a whole lot different,” Clark said. “Running is running. I guess it was easier because the coaches stuck with me and coached me up.”
There are ways his experience as a quarterback helps. Calhoun said Clark can read a defense well, because he has an understanding of defensive fronts. Because Air Force mostly uses zone-blocking runs, reading where a hole could open up based on a defender’s positioning or understanding block combinations is important for the tailback.
Clark said getting experience at tailback, in practice and games, has hastened his progress.
“I feel I’m going to get better,” Clark said. “I feel I’m seeing more things this year than I was last year, and definitely more than my freshman year.”
Although Clark said he feels he could have done better in some games this year, his season low in a game is 68 yards, and that came on just 11 carries at Oklahoma. He has a pair of 100-yard games, and getting 1,000 as a junior is a realistic goal if he stays healthy. And if Clark continues to get better, he could be in for a monster senior season.
“I think he’s just starting to get into what he can do,” Calhoun said.