Sophomore running back Anthony Garland ran for 102 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries in the Central Michigan football team’s season-opening win over Southeast Missouri State on Aug. 30.
In the six games since then, the 6-foot-1, 218-pound native of Ferndale has carried the ball just 23 times and gained 76 yards. Garland said it’s because of what’s going on when no one’s watching.
“Coaches feel like some of the other running backs are practicing better and making a few less mistakes,” he said. “I need to take my coaching better and not hang my head.”
Head coach Dan Enos had another explanation as to why the talented sophomore hasn’t seen much action.
“He’s played just as much as the other backs have, besides Zurlon (Tipton),” he said. “Against Navy, we thought Saylor Lavallii had a hot hand, so he played some. This past week, Zurlon had 17 carries and Saylor had three. It’s tough to take Zurlon Tipton off the field right now. It’s not because of anything Anthony is doing, we just feel that we have guys there that are playing at a high level right now.”
Garland did not receive a carry in last week’s loss to Ball State.
So far this season, Tipton has rushed for 628 yards on 100 carries and scored seven touchdowns. Lavallii has gained 83 yards on 27 carries.
“I need to work on pass protection,” Garland said. “That and getting down on myself are two things holding me back from playing in the game; I’ve been working to get better at it.”
Garland admitted he’d rather be playing in the game, but even though he’s on the sideline, he’s not holding a grudge against the running backs that are in the game.
“Saylor comes up to me and asks if I dislike him sometimes and I just tell him to keep plugging away and that I’m behind him 100 percent.” Garland said. “I tell Zurlon the same thing. Even though I’m not playing, I’m trying to help them out. There’s no negativity; I’m trying to help out the others in my group.”
Garland plans on continuing to be a good teammate, but he did say it can be tough not playing, especially when he saw significant time a year ago as a freshman, gaining 378 yards on 83 carries.
“It’s really tough, because I have friends and family back home calling and asking if I’m injured and, obviously, I’m not,” he said. “It’s hard to tell them that I haven’t been practicing well and taking advantage of my opportunities in practice.”
Garland and the rest of the Chippewas host Akron at 3:30 p.m. this Saturday at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.