by Alexander George
Saquon Barkley, at twenty-one years of age, has already accomplished a lot in his football life. With relatives already known in the sports world, with both his father and his uncle as notable boxers, Saquon Barkley has already secured the family legacy by having a day named after him. On March 9, 2018, it was announced that the Pennsylvania House Chamber votes to make March 14th Saquon Barkley day in the state of Pennsylvania.
Barkley always dreamed of being a big league football player. Having grown up as a New York Jets fan, idolizing Curtis Martin, the family gave him the means to be a successful player by moving to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. With a phenomenal high school football career, (3,646 rushing yards and 63 TD’s) including and epic senior year (1,856 rushing yards and 31 TDs), Barkley was able to aim for a more notable football college in Penn State as opposed to attending Rutgers.
Penn State colleagues of Saquon Barkley recognized his ability as a football running back almost immediately with naming him a member of the Second Team All Big Ten in his freshman year and “First Team All Big Ten Member” his sophomore and junior years. Other accolades for Barkley would include two-time Big Ten Offensive player of the year in 2016 and 2017 along with being voted as part of the College Football American team in 2017. He was also in the mix for high-profile awards such as the Heisman Trophy (voted 4th) and the Maxwell Award (voted 3rd).
Despite his franchise leading rushing records at Penn State, such as most career rushing touchdowns (43), total rushing yards as a freshman (1,076), and sophomore (1,496), Saquon Barkley’s success as a newly drafted New York Giants player may come down to his abilities as a receiver as well as his running talents.
Despite Saquon Barkley rushing for over 3,800 yards in his three seasons at Penn State, Barkley is considered an inconsistent yardage runner. If you take into effect his statistics of Barkley’s final college season (217 att for 1,271 rushing yards and 18 TDs), it is quite ironic that his rushing attempts has resulted in over seventeen percent of his plays resulting in negative yardage. Furthermore, Saquon Barkley’s combined runs of over fifteen and twenty yards have a percentage less than lost yardage. Therefore, Barkley can not carry an offense like Ezekiel Elliot can for the Dallas Cowboys as a running back. Luckily, for the New York Giants Saquon Barkley does not have to due to a newly revamped offense.
Enter first year New York Giants coach Pat Shurmur and his offensive game plan of utilizing the running backs and tight ends for play action and screen passes. Before the plays commence, the running backs and tight ends are in favorable match-ups by lining them up as wide receivers. This tactic is especially favorable for the offense by giving these extra receivers a quick way to get open to execute the intended play. This offensive scheme would also be useful in honing in on teams with a week front seven due to injuries or lack of talent.
Pat Shurmur, who was the Minnesota Viking’s Offensive Coordinator last year, used this game plan to perfection against the Cincinnati Bengals in week 15 of least season. The final receiving yardage of their two most notable running backs Latavius Murray (1 reception for 28 yards) and Jerrod McKinnon (7 receptions for 114 yds) in this game suggests the focus of this offense was to have them incorporated into the receiving game where they received sixty percent of the passes from Vikings quarterback Case Keenum. The result, Vikings 34 – Bengals 7.
If you look at Saquon Barkley’s career receiving yardage in college (102 REC, 1,195 yards & 8 TDs), Barkley can be inserted into the New York Giants passing offense perfectly. His biggest game as a receiver came against Georgia State on September of last year where he caught four passes for one forty-two yards and scored on an eighty-five touchdown catch followed by a forty-four yard grab against the Iowa Buckeyes. Barkley’s, most publicized game, which was the 2017 Rose Bowl, he scored a receiving touchdown while catching five balls for five yards.
Saquon Barkley will undoubtedly be an integral part of the Giants running attack for years to come. However, his biggest asset for the organization will be the ability of providing huge chunks of receiving yards thereby adding an extra offensive weapon to one of Pat Shurmur’s primary offensive game plans.