Corvin Lamb could help return Louisville’s running game to relevance

Running back Corvin Lamb’s Louisville career has had one brief moment of greatness.

He caught a screen pass from quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, turned upfield and outraced several Syracuse defenders for a 53-yard score.

It’s Lamb’s one highlight in a career that has taken some time to get going, but it’s a moment that has inspired Louisville fans to believe that the Cardinals do have a running game waiting to break out and enough to inspire Lamb to be that breakout guy moving forward.

“I hadn't practiced that whole week,” Lamb told Yahoo! Sports. “They had me out, third string, just watching. I watched film that whole week and [running backs] coach [Kenny] Carter to always be ready, so I just did what he taught me to do.”

While the taste of playing time last year has brightened Lamb’s outlook on his future with Louisville, he admits that it took some maturity to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Lamb admitted when he was a true freshman, he was dismayed about his playing time (he redshirted). Consequently, his attitude and academics suffered.

“I feel like I’ve become a better man,” Lamb said. “I’ve focused more on time management. I’ve been working on understanding what it takes to become a better person. You can get caught up and forget what you’re really there for. You stop working hard. You forget the focus of the vision of what you came up to college to do. When you’re not playing it kind of messes with your mind. And I had gotten away from that. So I just need to work harder and become a better player and ultimately become a better person.”

Lamb’s newfound resiliency and attitude has been tested again this spring as he’s missed time with a staph infection. The healing process requires him not to sweat, so he’s not only been out of practice, he’s also been out of the weight room. Consequently, he’s lost a little weight and some precious muscle.

Some players would be dismayed with their lot, especially with other running backs all vying for playing time, by Lamb said it’s given him a chance to become a better study in the film room, a better teammate and learn exactly what he needs to do to get on the field.

“I need to build my body up more so I can take hits,” said Lamb, who is 5-foot-9 and hopes to be 200 pounds by the fall. “Instead of being a finesse guy, I have to become more of a every down back. I’m just trying to become bigger, stronger and faster so I can be able to take hits.”

There’s a big emphasis on the Louisville running game this season since it was almost nonexistent a year ago. The Cardinals ranked No. 102 nationally in rushing offense with just 122.69 yards per game. Rushing leaders Jeremy Wright (211 carries, 824 yards, 10 touchdowns) and Senorise Perry (136 carries, 705 yards, 11 touchdowns) were both juniors last year, but Wright is not enrolled in classes this semester and Perry suffered a torn ACL late in the year against Syracuse (the same game Lamb made his first and only major contribution) and is out of spring drills. Syracuse does expect Perry to be back for the fall, but he’ll only be nine months removed from surgery. Then there's Dominique Brown, who was injured last season, and Brandon Radcliff also vying for time.

So Lamb knows he has a tremendous opportunity to become the team’s feature back if he can work hard this summer and make up for this lost spring during fall camp.

And maybe then he can live up to the potential many saw a flash of last season.

“I’m trying to become a better overall person,” Lamb said. “I needed to understand who I am, what I wanted to do and how to become a better football player on the field. I think it’s just maturity, getting older and understanding that I had to get here, work hard and get what I wanted to get out of life.”

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