Bass settles in, hopes to improve performance

Tommy Birch

He has a home, and now junior J.J. Bass may have a job.

The junior college running back from Altamonte Spring, Fla., rushed for 133 yards in his first game with the Cyclones against Kent State last Thursday. Now, for the first time, he’s listed as the No. 1 running back on the Cyclone depth chart.

“I’m going to be here for two years, but, I mean, it feels great to have a home, be settled and not [be] worrying about where I’m going to be next year or this year,” Bass said.

Bass, who transferred from El Camino Community College in Torrance, Calif., became the first running back since Blaise Bryant, in 1989, to rush for more than 100 yards in his first game as a Cyclone. After taking over the carrying duties for redshirt freshman Alexander Robinson, Bass ran for 106 yards on just 14 carries in the first half against the Golden Flashes.

“I pretty much feel that I did everything I could to help my team, but I definitely feel that I can get better,” Bass said.

One thing the running game will have to improve on is consistency, said coach Gene Chizik. After dominating the first half, the junior only ran for 27 yards in the second, something Chizik mostly attributed to the offensive line.

“I think if you look at the first half and you look at the way we ran the football, you would say that maybe there was a glimmer of what we wanted it to look like,” Chizik said. “And then you come back in the second half and the running game is pretty much nonexistant.”

Although junior Jason Scales was listed as the starting running back at the start of the game, it was Robinson who took the opening handoffs and Bass who finished the game. Scales didn’t see any playing time and Chizik declined to say why Monday, saying the game plan was to start with Robinson and end with Bass. Robinson, who had previously been listed as third on the depth chart, remains in that position, behind Scales at No. 2.

“We went with the two best we thought gave us a chance to win, and if Jason ends up being in that mix, which, week to week, he will be, then we will play him if we think he gives us our best chance to win,” Chizik said.

Chizik said he wouldn’t rule out using all three running backs against Northern Iowa on Saturday. He said the decision over which to use will depend on what he’ll need from the running back position in that particular week.

“Certain guys are better at protecting the quarterback and protection; some guys are better at the type of running game we need to use for that week, and so I think those are all the variables that we look at right now as to who we favor to play,” Chizik said.

As for Bass, he said regardless of who he’s preparing for, he can be the running back Chizik can count on.

“I definitely want to be the guy,” Bass said after the Cyclones’ 23-14 loss Thursday.