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Keep An Eye On: Mike Warren and Episode VI: Return of the Running Back

We at WRNL realize that while some people attempt to absorb entire plays at a time, a lot of fans watch single players between snaps. Consider this your weekly guide to the Cyclone most deserving of your down-to-down eyeball tracking.

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Four games in to the season, Mike Warren is on pace to surpass any 2-man running back combo the Cyclones have trotted out since 2012's James White and Shontrelle Johnson pair. That's by himself. And if we're talking single running backs, the 987 yards Warren would accumulate following the same track he's now on would be the best total since Alexander Robinson's 2009 campaign (1195 yards).

So what does this mean for a team that many had written off to another stretch of bowl-less football. Now will the 'Clones be making a six win trip to the Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl and play for a lifetime supply of fried chicken and special sauce? No. Nuh uh. It's not happening. But that doesn't mean it can't happen soon enough.

Yeah, the Iowa State wide receiver core is talented and deep and every other positive adjective you can think of (maybe not possum-ridden or swampy), but the help of a stable run game opens up so more options.

And better than stable is a run game that actually has promise to lead an offense and not just supplement it in a "it's kind of mandatory that we do this" kind of way (I'm looking at you, Denver Broncos).

Where does Warren fit in this? Just watch. He's the first back I can remember, well before A-Rob, that could make subtle cuts while keeping his eyes downfield and feet moving. More so, a running back that could start at another Big 12 school outside of ISU and Kansas.

This week, you don't have to watch an SEC game and squint hard at an Arkansas back and pretend he's in cardinal and gold to get your fix of Iowa State run game. You don't need to be ashamed of Mike Warren at tailback.