“In high school, you may be the fastest one out there, but out here (in college), everyone here is fast. Even the linemen.” EFFREM REED, ULL running back
LAFAYETTE — What was just a routine opening kickoff might well have been the threshold of opportunity for Louisiana-Lafayette running back Effrem Reed.
Reed was a somewhat unexpected starter for the Ragin’ Cajuns against Tulane on Oct.6, and on the game’s first play, he wasn’t hesitant about delivering.
The former Dutchtown High standout cut off tackle for a 48-yard gain that helped set up a 46-yard field goal — ULL’s first points in a 41-13 homecoming victory.
Reed finished with 12 carries for 85 yards in a ULL rushing attack that gained 295.
A redshirt freshman, Reed was expected to receive playing time in a projected rotation that also included sophomore Alonzo Harris and redshirt freshman Montrel Carter.
That role for the 5-foot-6, 180-pound Reed expanded in the first half of the Cajuns’ season opener, when Carter injured a knee that will sideline him for the remainder of the season.
Since then, Reed has gained 264 yards on 45 carries for a 5.9-yard average.
Reed has also given the Cajuns a contrasting style to Harris, a 215-pounder who gained 1,074 yards as the 2011 Sun Belt Conference Freshman Of The Year.
Despite playing the previous four games, Reed said he was still surprised when he was told to run on the field for the Cajuns’ first snap against Tulane.
“When the offense took the field, I heard the coach call for me to go in there. I had no idea, because the coaches hadn’t told me anything the whole week,” Reed said.
Reed said the start was partly because of a scripted series of plays the Cajuns had for the opening drive.
“All week I had been running that one play, and it had been going pretty well,” Reed said.
Throughout the game, Reed and Harris alternated, but the chance to start in his fifth college game was unexpected, Reed said.
“Alonzo and I have been sharing equal (repetitions), so whoever has the hot hand is going in,” Reed said. “In (the game’s) opening script, we are equal.”
Reed said assuming greater rushing responsibilities is something for which prepared, even before Carter’s injury.
“On any given play, anyone can go down, so you have to be ready to step up. As soon as Montrel went down, I knew I was going to get more carries,” Reed said.
Last season, Reed said he didn’t mind redshirting to become acquainted with the nuances of a college rusher.
“The speed of the game in college is very different,” he said. “In high school, you may be the fastest one out there, but out here (in college), everyone here is fast. Even the linemen.”
Reed missed much of spring practice with a shoulder injury after he impressed the coaches with his scout-team contributions last fall.
Against Tulane, ULL offensive coordinator Jay Johnson said Reed introduced some additional qualities.
“That was the first time I saw him doing some things in the open field and making people miss,” Johnson said.
Johnson said Reed’s attention to what he does without the football hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“He does a good job mentally,” Johnson said. “I look a lot at what the backs do when they don’t have the football. I think he’s done a tremendous job there.”
Johnson said against Tulane, the coaches were ready to evaluate what Reed could do, given the situation.
“At the start of the season, (Reed) was right there in that running back mix we had. (In the Tulane game), we were ready to see him, and part of that is who’s hot,” Johnson said.
At ULL, Reed said his style is different than Harris, who handles more tasks up the middle.
ULL coach Mark Hudspeth probably described Reed’s proficiencies best in postgame comments he made several weeks ago.
“(Reed) is the type of back that can turn 3 (yards) into 5, and 2 into 3,” Hudspeth said.