Friday, August 31, 2007

O What A Night

Early Friday Morning I was driving up the Eastern Shore of Virginia on my way home from Delaware's first football game of the year the previous night at William and Mary. I was thinking about the game and to paraphrase the late Jack Buck, I still didn't believe what I had just seen.

Delaware running back Omar Cuff rewrote the record books on Thursday Night when he rushed for 244 yards and scored 7 touchdowns. I wonder if he got a little tired of all of us asking him if his ankle was okay. If so, message received. Loud and clear. We get it.

In a funny anomaly Omar's profile on the ESPN site projects his stats for the entire 2007 season based on the first game. How is this for a line:

330 rushes for 2684 yards and 66 TDs plus 44 catches for 572 yards and 11 receiving TDs.
While those numbers may be a tad ambitious, if he stays healthy, Omar will likely have a huge year.

Not bad for a guy who was brought in to be a reserve defensive back never likely to play much, and was moved over to offense only out of necessity in 2004 when several other running backs went down with injuries. That year, after not playing at all in the first six games and only sparingly in the next two, Omar had his coming out party in Game 9 on the road against one of the toughest defenses in the country.

Like the character from the HBO show The Wire who has the same name and who announces his presence with a giant shotgun, Omar announced his presence that day to the record setting tune of 34 carries and 162 yards while paralyzing the James Madison defense as if they were looking down both barrels. In the remaining four games of the season (two of which were 1-AA playoff games), Omar had three 100 yard plus performances and scored a total of eight touchdowns.

The legend was born.

When Delaware Head Coach KC Keeler talks about Omar Cuff his eyes light up. After the 2005 season, the coach asked his already all-world running back to try and make himself a better receiver. The following off-season with the help of his mom (Can you say: Campbell's Soup commercial?), Omar went to work catching ball after ball after ball from his mom in the alley-way near his house. He caught balls until his hands hurt and more importantly until his hands improved.

He made himself into the complete package: A strong runner, a reliable receiver, and lock-down blocker which is imperative for any back in the Delaware spread offense, but unfortunately he did not get a much chance to show off his skills last year due to injury. Which made Thursday night even more compelling.

After stalling on their opening drive of the game against William and Mary, the Delaware offense would explode for seven consecutive touchdowns on their next seven possessions not counting a kneel down at the end of the first half. Seven touchdowns. All courtesy of Omar Cuff with a lot of help from what appears to be a very talented offensive line. It truly was an incredible performance.

The legend continues. Stay tuned...

Bill Komissaroff

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