"We've matured a lot as football players," Watson said. "We understand concepts a lot better to where stuff comes more naturally now, so our coach doesn't have to drill the basics of things into our heads. The fundamental part of playing running back is down pat in our heads now.
"We're becoming our own individual style of runners and individual style of players when it comes to pass protection and stuff like that," he added. "We're figuring out what works for us in the long run to make us better running backs."
While the competition this year is tough, the backs say it remains friendly. Last year was business - a foursome of backs either young or seldom used trying to earn carries in an explosive offense. This year, it's more fun, and Butler said the surplus should benefit all four of them.
"During the games, it gives us breaks so we can always stay fresh," he said. "That's really a good thing for us."
Brown said the carries won't stay even when the regular season begins. He wants two running backs out of the four to handle most of the load. He also wants to harness the group's speed. As dangerous as it was, Brown said it sometimes was uncontrolled, out of whack and out of place. Taliaferro appreciates the teachings of a coach who not only played in the SEC, but in the NFL as well.
If the group takes what Brown teaches to heart, Taliaferro feels the running game could become even more prolific this year.
"Our mindset is that we can't be complacent," Taliaferro said. "If we work harder than we did last year and expect more, the outcome is going to be more. We're shooting for 200 (yards) or more now."
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.r...@dailymail.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.