Can Josh Harris be as good as Chris Barclay?

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via wfmag.blogs.wfu.edu

Recently at BSD we have had a lot of articles that are heavy on facts and fairly light on opinions, especially about the upcoming football season. This article is the first in the a few over the next month that will basically be thoughts that cross my head during any day, that are then transposed to paper. Facts may be few and far between, but it gives me a good place to talk about things that I think people may or may not want to read about.

Aaaaaaand if you don't want to read my opinions I am quite alright with that too. There will be plenty of articles with more facts for you coming up soon as well. Enjoy!

Click through for a comparison of Josh Harris, and one of the best running backs to ever play at Wake Forest.

First of all, let me preempt any criticisms that I may receive by stating the following in big bold letters: I AM NOT IN ANY WAY, SHAPE, OR FORM STATING THAT JOSH HARRIS IS CURRENTLY AS GOOD AS CHRIS BARCLAY WAS PLAYING FOR WAKE FOREST FROM 2002-2005. I am merely going to take a look at their running styles, players around them, and similar freshman years to give a sense of how good Harris can be over the next 3 years at Wake Forest (barring injury or early exit to the NFL).

Now that we have set the parameters for this article, we need some statistics to beef just how good Chris Barclay was. See below:

Rushing Receiving Scrimmage
Year School Conf Class Pos Att Yds Avg TD Rec Yds Avg TD Plays Yds Avg TD
2002 Wake Forest ACC FR RB 144 703 4.9 9 4 51 12.8 0 148 754 5.1 9
2003 Wake Forest ACC SO RB 235 1192 5.1 12 11 53 4.8 0 246 1245 5.1 12
2004 Wake Forest ACC JR RB 243 1010 4.2 9 21 118 5.6 0 264 1128 4.3 9
2005 Wake Forest ACC SR RB 218 1127 5.2 10 26 159 6.1 0 244 1286 5.3 10
Career Wake Forest 840 4032 4.8 40 62 381 6.1 0 902 4413 4.9 40

Here are a few of his accolades as well:

  • 2005 ACC Player of the Year
  • Three-Time All-ACC Selection
  • Wake Forest's All-Time Leading Rusher (840 attempts for 4,032 yards...also the most in the ACC since 2000)
  • Set 7 school records during his time at Wake (rushing yards, scoring, rushing touchdowns, total touchdowns, all-purpose yards, 200-yard rushing games, and 1,000 yard rushing).
Now seemingly, Chris Barclay is heads above Josh Harris by looking at these stats and records, but if you look at their freshman seasons there are some interesting similarities:

Chris Barclay (2002) vs. Josh Harris (2010)
  • Barclay- 144 rushes for 703 yards (4.9 ypc, 10 TDs)
  • Harris- 126 rushes for 720 yards (5.7 ypc, 7 TDs)
  • ACC Play- Barclay- 78 rushes for 381 yards (4.9 ypc, 5 TDs)
  • ACC Play- Harris- 81 rushes for 447 yards (5.5 ypc, 4 TDs)
Game-by-Game Comparisions

Chris Barclay

Rushing Receiving Kick Ret
Rk Date School Opponent Att Yds Avg TD Rec Yds Avg TD Ret Yds Avg TD
1 2002-08-29 Wake Forest @ Northern Illinois L 5 37 7.4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2 2002-09-07 Wake Forest East Carolina W 9 57 6.3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
3 2002-09-14 Wake Forest @ North Carolina State L 4 16 4.0 0 1 13 13.0 0 0 0 0
4 2002-09-21 Wake Forest @ Purdue W 19 70 3.7 3 0 0 0 0 0 0
5 2002-09-28 Wake Forest Virginia L 11 43 3.9 1 0 0 0 2 24 12.0 0
6 2002-10-05 Wake Forest @ Georgia Tech W 13 64 4.9 1 0 0 0 1 25 25.0 0
7 2002-10-12 Wake Forest Duke W 8 54 6.8 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
8 2002-10-19 Wake Forest @ Clemson L 14 89 6.4 0 1 29 29.0 0 2 44 22.0 0
9 2002-10-26 Wake Forest North Carolina W 7 45 6.4 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
10 2002-11-02 Wake Forest Florida State L 9 19 2.1 1 0 0 0 1 11 11.0 0
11 2002-11-23 Wake Forest Navy W 14 76 5.4 0 1 -3 -3.0 0 0 0 0
12 2002-11-30 Wake Forest @ Maryland L 12 51 4.3 0 1 12 12.0 0 4 42 10.5 0
13 2002-12-30 Wake Forest N Oregon W 19 82 4.3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
13 Games 144 703 4.9 9 4 51 12.8 0 10 146 14.6 0

Josh Harris

Rushing Receiving
Rk Date School Opponent Att Yds Avg TD Rec Yds Avg TD
1 2010-09-02 Wake Forest Presbyterian W 6 74 12.3 2 0 0 0
2 2010-09-11 Wake Forest Duke W 12 50 4.2 0 0 0 0
3 2010-09-18 Wake Forest @ Stanford L 6 15 2.5 0 0 0 0
4 2010-09-25 Wake Forest @ Florida State L 4 4 1.0 0 0 0 0
5 2010-10-09 Wake Forest Navy L 14 46 3.3 0 3 32 10.7 0
6 2010-10-16 Wake Forest @ Virginia Tech L 20 241 12.1 2 0 0 0
7 2010-10-30 Wake Forest @ Maryland L 10 27 2.7 1 2 20 10.0 0
8 2010-11-06 Wake Forest Boston College L 19 67 3.5 0 0 0 0
9 2010-11-13 Wake Forest @ North Carolina State L 7 20 2.9 0 1 -1 -1.0 0
10 2010-11-20 Wake Forest Clemson L 9 38 4.2 1 1 9 9.0 0
11 2010-11-27 Wake Forest @ Vanderbilt W 18 138 7.7 1 1 9 9.0 0
11 Games 125 720 5.8 7 8 69 8.6 0

Things to Consider
  1. 2002 WFU was much better than 2010 WFU. This led to more running in an already rush heavy attack.
  2. Chris Barclay's stats were hampered by his time share in the backfield with Tarence Williams, Cornelius Birgs, Nick Burney, and Ovie Mughelli. This cut down on his yards and touchdowns (Mughelli had 12 himself). It did, however, allow Barclay to come in and run against a tired defense, and learn from Mughelli and Williams.
  3. Harris had 241 yards in one game last year, which obviously inflated his yardage and also his YPC. Barclay was much more consistent, but they both had some low yardage games.
  4. The 2002 offensive line included Tyson Clabo and Mark Moroz. While Looney, Weaver and Godfrey (and really the entire offensive line) are huge and may get a chance to play in the NFL, they are not anywhere nearly as good as Clabo and Moroz.
With these things in mind, let's take a look at what Chris Barclay accomplished in his sophomore season to see if Josh Harris can keep up.

Rushing Receiving Kick Ret
Rk Date School Opponent Att Yds Avg TD Rec Yds Avg TD Ret Yds Avg TD
1 2003-08-30 Wake Forest @ Boston College W 6 12 2.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2 2003-09-06 Wake Forest North Carolina State W 21 90 4.3 1 1 -4 -4.0 0 0 0 0
3 2003-09-13 Wake Forest Purdue L 19 26 1.4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
4 2003-09-20 Wake Forest East Carolina W 17 55 3.2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
5 2003-09-27 Wake Forest @ Virginia L 15 65 4.3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
6 2003-10-11 Wake Forest Georgia Tech L 19 124 6.5 1 2 9 4.5 0 0 0 0
7 2003-10-18 Wake Forest @ Duke W 22 163 7.4 3 0 0 0 0 0 0
8 2003-10-25 Wake Forest @ Florida State L 16 50 3.1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
9 2003-11-01 Wake Forest Clemson W 24 163 6.8 2 1 6 6.0 0 0 0 0
10 2003-11-08 Wake Forest @ North Carolina L 35 160 4.6 1 0 0 0 1 28 28.0 0
11 2003-11-15 Wake Forest Connecticut L 13 41 3.2 0 3 7 2.3 0 4 83 20.8 0
12 2003-11-29 Wake Forest Maryland L 28 243 8.7 3 4 35 8.8 0 2 38 19.0 0
12 Games 235 1192 5.1 12 11 53 4.8 0 7 149 21.3 0

Barclay's sophomore year was fantastic overall, and he really picked it up at the end of the year.

So....to answer the overarching question---if Harris is going to get these types of numbers, the offensive line is going to have to be very much improved, and much more consistent. Jim Grobe has spoken often about pounding the ball this year, and hopefully that means Josh Harris will get a ton of carries if he can stay healthy (and out of the doghouse). 

Josh Harris can be as good as Chris Barclay, but it is going to take a lot of luck and hard work. Barclay was in a perfect system for a running back, with superb offensive linemen, where the Coach Grobe made running a way of life, and Barclay stayed healthy for all four years. Harris has already shown a proclivity to getting injured in the past season, but hopefully with better conditioning he can put that behind him. Chris Barclay is one of the best running backs to ever play in the ACC, and Josh Harris has a long way to go to get in his league. His freshman year is pretty comparable, but now he has to step it up for 3 more years. It should provide Josh with a career goal at Wake Forest, which will be good for him as well.

I think a reasonable expectation for Harris this year would be around 1000 yards on 220 carries(ish). I doubt he will be able to keep up his 5.7 YPC, and 220 for 1000 is actually pretty conservative (bumping him down to 4.5 YPC). I could easily see him keeping his YPC around 5. Wake will have to figure out a way to get him the ball even when we are trailing though. Whether or not he will wind up as good as Barclay or not, Josh Harris is an electrifying player who keeps the defense on their heels the entire game just waiting for the big play. I know I will enjoy watching him this year, and however many more years he plays for Wake Forest.

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