Pep Hamilton committed to establishing a physical Colts run game

ANDERSON – If you want a reason to see the Colts have some power in their rushing attack during the 2013 season, then Pep Hamilton wants fans to remember XLVII.

“I went back over this summer break and studied several different teams across the league, just their offenses,” said the new Colts offensive coordinator. But you start with the two teams that played in the Super Bowl and both Baltimore and the San Francisco 49ers are both physical, power-running teams that do a great job stopping the run.”

He won’t have much control over the latter but its the opposite for the former, as Hamilton reiterated his desire on Monday for his new team to feature a powerful running attack to compliment the team’s passing attack with quarterback Andrew Luck.

An argument for that success comes from last year’s two Super Bowl participants. The Ravens (under John Harbaugh) were 11th in total rushing in the league while the 49ers (under Jim Harbaugh) were fourth in the league on the ground, averaging 155 yards a game.

“Iknow firsthand, Coach (Jim) Harbaugh’s philosophy of offense, he hired me at Stanford,” said Hamilton, who came to the Colts from that school after the 2012 season. “I believe that we should be able to run the football and commit to running the football, but by no means are we going to not work on being an efficient passing team.

“We want to maintain balance more than anything. I think when we talk about running the football, we’re just trying to create a mentality and mindset for our guys, for all of our guys.”

Perhaps it was there in 2012 when the team was starting over with Luck along with rookie tailback Vick Ballard but it didn’t yield overwhelming success. During the regular season the Colts were 22nd in the league in rushing yards per game, averaging 104.4 a contest on 3.8 a carry-which ranked 26th in the league.

Early on the Colts have taken steps to change that by acquiring more physical offensive lineman along with adding a fullback into the regular offensive scheme, which was a rarity during the Peyton Manning era.

“It’s about being physical. It’s all about imposing our will on our opponent. We do not want to waste plays in the run game,” said Hamilton. “But there are times when, hey, they’re going to have a better call than we have and we got to do a great job of making sure we eliminate the negative plays.

“But, our offensive linemen, they’ve done an outstanding job of accepting the challenge of being physical and having a physical mindset and buying in to the fact that it’s going to hurt when we run the football.”

Tackle Anthony Castonzo says the lineman have embraced his new approach as they begin to fit in new additions like tackle Gosder Cherilus and guard Donald Thomas.

“We’ve definitely taken it upon ourselves to become more physical, and I think we’ve done that just by a lot of guys in the offseason getting in the weight room and just being out here and just really trying to go through people and hit. So it’s definitely been pretty physical out there,” said Castonzo of the line’s more physical play.

Getting Luck on board isn’t a problem for Hamilton, since he was the quarterback’s offensive coordinator at Stanford. Last year the Colts ran 440 times compared to 627 which they went to the air, which Luck completed 339 for 4,374 yards and 23 touchdowns compared to 18 interceptions in his rookie season.

“It’s great to hand the ball off,” said Luck of running. “The balance of the offense has been a lot of fun to play with, to play in I guess I should say. The guys up front are doing a great job and everybody is really buying into this sort of smash-mouth approach and I think that’s only going to help us in the passing game so it’s been great.”
Hamilton hopes the added punch in the running attack will help the Colts offense be great as well.