While there have been significant changes in roster personnel in most positions for the defending Yates Cup Gryphons, they return their top three running backs from last year.In the regular season, Johnny Augustine gained 814 yards on the ground, 1,059 all-purpose yards when receiving and return yards are added in and he scored 14 touchdowns, 12 on runs. Brandon Gordon gained 300 yards on 51 carries and Daniel Palmer-Salmon gained 263 yards on 45 carries.Rob Carnegie is the only other running back to get carries last year — 19 yards on five carries — and he’s also back, but he’s been moved to receiver.“That’s definitely a big advantage,” Augustine said of having the same crew back. “Sometimes it’s hard for rookies to come in and learn the system, but the fact that we’ve learned the system helps us even better. We can get rolling with things and at the end of the day we don’t have to worry about the play book, we can work on techniques.”“We’re very diverse and we have our own strengths,” Gordon said. “We’ve got a good set of running backs and it’s pretty exciting to play with them.”Augustine, Gordon and Palmer-Salmon are likely to get their usual share of carries this year, but Jamal Hooker and Mack Jones have been getting plenty of reps at training camp. Both are in their second seasons with the Gryphs, but were scout team players last year.“So far, so good,” Augustine said of camp. “It’s been great and the intensity has been there. I don’t think we’ve missed a step at all. I know we’re coming off a Yates Cup, but I think we’ve forgotten about that. We’re ready to defend it and go beyond that.”Gordon expects to lose carries early in the season as work commitments made him a late arrival to camp. Thursday was his first day.“I have a contract until Sept. 1st. I just have to stick it out until then,” he said. “I don’t want to ruin any potential (employment) opportunities.”He also doesn’t want to miss playing his favourite sport.“I really want to play football,” Gordon said. "I know I probably won’t dress the first game, which is understandable, but I’ll definitely be there to support the team.“I’m getting a fair amount of reps considering my situation and I’m proud to see the running backs doing as well as they are.”The running backs aren’t spending as much time learning the play book as the changes for them for this season are said to be minimal.“There are little ands and buts here and there, but it’s still the same thing,” Augustine said. “We’ve just basically got to execute. I think that’s the No. 1 thing, just executing those plays.”Of the seven running backs at camp, only Patrick Pierre and Harry Robinson will be experiencing the rookie jitters.“First year, you’re definitely a lot more nervous but after that, it just becomes easier,” Augustine said. “You still get training camp legs and stuff like that, but I’m smart and I’m prepared and I know what to expect. Being in my fourth year now, this is basically one of the easier — actually, the easiest training camp. But I’m always working hard.”Training camp has also reached the point for most of the Gryphs where they’re itching to play against an opponent rather than continuing to go up against teammates.“I don’t feel as angry against my teammates as I would against another opponent,” Gordon said. "I want to crush my opponent across from me, whereas my teammates, I don’t have to lighten up, but realistically I’m not going to try to kill them.“I definitely want to play another team. I’m very eager.”“I just want to start playing,” Augustine said. “I want it to be here already. We’ve got McMaster this Sunday, I’m really ready to roll into the season. It’s been the longest off-season and I’m pretty excited.”For the running backs, team goals are their main goals.“A Vanier Cup, that’s all I can tell you. That’s all. That’s a good season,” Augustine said. “Not even a Yates Cup, Vanier all the way.”“To make it further than we did last year, for me and everybody,” Gordon said. “In terms of my performance, I just want to stick to the team goals and (running back) goals which is 6.4 yards average per carry. That’s what I want to stick to and exceed as well.”That average would be an increase over their 5.6 yards per carry average they had in the regular season last year.After getting to the CIS semifinal Mitchell Bowl last season, it was the shortest off-season for the Gryphons in almost 20 years. However, it didn’t feel that way.“After winning the Yates Cup and whatnot, it just felt longer than before,” Augustine said. “Before we weren’t so deep into the playoffs and then we made it deep into the playoffs and just lingering after that last loss to Montreal, that’s still in my mouth. I want to take that taste out, so I’ve just been itching for that.”They’ll get their first chance to play an opponent in a controlled scrimmage Sunday at 1 p.m. at Alumni Stadium when they’re to host the McMaster Marauders.Their regular season is to start with their home opener against the Toronto Varsity Blues Aug. 28 at 1 p.m.