Stacy Leading the Charge for Resurgent Running Game

Posted Oct 17, 2013

Faced with a 1-3 record and in need of a spark in the running game, the Rams inserted rookie RB Zac Stacy into the starting lineup for the first time against Jacksonville on October 6. Two weeks later, Stacy has provided that lift and is entering his third week as the team’s lead back.

“I’m just enjoying it, because it’s an opportunity,” Stacy said. “Any time you have an opportunity like I have, you want to take advantage of it. You want to keep the momentum going and just keep growing throughout the week…I feel comfortable out here because we get great looks in practice. That makes it easy in a game.”

The numbers since Stacy’s emergence speak for themselves. The Rams have posted their top two rushing totals of the season, averaging 121 yards per game, with Stacy leading the way with 78 and 79 yards against Jacksonville and Houston, respectively. Most importantly, the improved running game has translated to the Rams’ top two offensive outputs of the season. Though he has yet to reach the end zone, Stacy’s contributions have helped create numerous opportunities for the Rams’ third-ranked red-zone offense. The Rams found the end zone on each of their three red-zone possessions in a 38-13 win over Houston.

Much of Stacy’s production has come in yards after contact, a facet of his game that is aided by his 5’ 8”, 214-pound frame.

“He’s a strong, powerful runner,” Fisher said following last Sunday’s win over Houston. “He’s got good vision and has got that low center of gravity. He’s got excellent lower body strength. It was good to see the extra yards.”

The ability Stacy possessed was never in question. The rookie is just one year removed from racking up 1,141 yards on the ground at Vanderbilt University, which ranked third in the Southeastern Conference. That level of production led the Rams to choose him with the 160th overall pick in April’s draft. However, Stacy’s daily focus on improving all aspects of his game has been perhaps the most promising development to his coaching staff. Whether Stacy will be receiving the majority of Rams’ carries well into the future is uncertain, but the recent production has certainly been encouraging.

“Obviously, we had strong feelings about Zac in the draft coming out,” Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said. “His work ethic from Day 1 has been great.”

Stacy and the rest of the Rams’ running game will receive perhaps its toughest test this week, when it faces the league’s fourth-ranked run defense in the Carolina Panthers. The rookie plans to stick by the same simple, yet effective plan that has served him well over the past two weeks.

“The past couple weeks, we’ve played some tremendous defenses, and it’s the same way this week,” Stacy said. “Carolina’s front seven is probably one of the best in the league. We just want to keep north and south and execute and make plays.”