Rating the Colorado Roster – Running Backs

Note … This is the second in a series of weekly unit reviews for the Colorado roster, which will lead us up to the start of Fall Camp on August 4th.

Previous posts: Quarterbacks

Colorado Running Back Roster

Players lost: Tony Jones; Malcolm Creer; Terrence Crowder

Seniors: Christian Powell; Jordan Murphy (FB)

Juniors: Michael Adkins

Sophomores: Phillip Lindsay; Devin Ross; George Frazier (FB)

Redshirt-freshmen: Kyle Evans

Coming this fall: Aaron Baltazar; Patrick Carr; Donald Gordon

bold = starter in 2014; italics = non-scholarship player

2014 Statistics for returning players

– Christian Powell … 85 rushes for 448 yards and four touchdowns … 12 catches for 64 yards

– Michael Adkins … 94 rushes for 403 yards and three touchdowns … 11 catches for 60 yards

– Phillip Lindsay … 81 rushes for 391 yards and no touchdowns … 14 catches for 118 yards

– George Frazier (FB) … five carries for four yards and one touchdown … five catches for 35 yards and one touchdown

Spring practice news


When your leading rusher in spring practices is a player virtually unknown to your fan base, it has been a strange spring.

With several of the returning players still hobbled by injuries, Kyle Evans led the Buffs in rushing this spring. Evans, a red-shirt freshman, had 34 rushes for 98 yards in the spring scrimmages, then had eight rushes for 96 yards and a 65-yard touchdown in the spring game.

Amongst those players with names more familiar to the Buff Nation, Christian Powell and Phillip Lindsay had productive springs. Powell, who has led the team in rushing the past three seasons, had 98 yards rushing and four touchdowns in the scrimmage before posting seven rushes for 45 yards in the spring game. Lindsay, meanwhile, had 19 carries for 72 yards and three scores in the behind closed doors scrimmages, then 12 carries for 78 yards in the spring game.

Meanwhile, junior Michael Adkins, the third member of CU’s three-man rushing attack in 2014, sat out much of the spring nursing a sprained MCL (he underwent surgery on November 25th, and should be a “full go” for Fall Camp).

The only news coming out of the spring with regard to the running back roster was the move of sophomore wide receiver Devin Ross to the running back position.

“I think this is really big for Devin,” MacIntyre said of the 5’9′, 170-pound sophomore’s change of position. “I’m looking for Devin to step up and be a good football player for us. I think he has the athletic ability to do it.”

The lack of any significant movement in the CU running back corps this spring could be seen as a positive or a negative.

On the positive side, Colorado is well-stocked, with talented players who are a senior (Powell), a junior (Adkins), sophomores (Lindsay, Ross, and transfer Aaron Baltazar), and a red-shirt freshmen (Evans), with two true freshmen (Patrick Carr and Donald Gordon) joining the team this August.

On the negative side, there was no breakout moment for a unit which desperately needs one. Colorado was 75th in the nation in rushing last year, with only 154.6 yards per game.

What others say about the Colorado running backs

Lindy’s … The Buffs need someone to step up in the backfield. Colorado’s run game suffered last season as Christian Powell led the team with a mere 448 yards on the ground.

Athlon’s … Christian Powell has led the Buffs in rushing for three straight years, though his role has diminished since carrying the ball 158 times as a true freshman in 2012. He had only 85 attempts last season, more than half of which came in the first four games. Powell will face significant competition from junior Michael Adkins and sophomore Phillip Lindsay, both of whom played extensively in the four-back rotation CU employed in 2014. Colorado added Boise State transfer Aaron Baltazar to the roster, and also signed two running backs from the high school ranks. Coaches seem content to stick with a rotation unless one player emerges and deserves the bulk of the carries. The competition should be fierce in August. The backfield will also include two capable fullbacks in George Frazier and Jordan Murphy. Frazier scored four touchdowns last season, three receiving and one rushing.

The Sporting News … They will be more effective if the Buffs can find help at the guard spots and if somebody emerges from a group of serviceable rushers. There could be hope in Aaron Baltazar, who was Boise State’s second-leading rusher as a freshman before going the juco route and eventually landing in Boulder.

The Bottom Line

Last season, Colorado failed to produce a 500-yard rusher for the first time since 1983 (Lee Rouson, 494 yards), and for only the third time in the last 50 years. While the Buffs did get over 1,600 yards of production from its top four backs, Colorado had only 13 rushing touchdowns last season, and had only 12 runs of over 20 yards (the opposition, by comparison, had 21 rushing touchdowns and 30 rushes which went for 20 yards or more).

Clearly, there is much to be done to accelerate the Colorado rushing attack. Some of it has to do with scheme, some of it has to do with line play, some of it has to do with wide receiver depth … and some of it has to do with none of the Buffs’ corral of running backs making a clear break from his teammates.

The only stat you need to know … Christian Powell is poised to become just the second running back in school history to lead the team in rushing four consecutive seasons (following Rodney Stewart, 2008-11). Yet, if Powell averages this fall what he averaged his first three seasons, his career total won’t even break into the top ten on the schools all-time rushing list.

I’ll pause for a moment to let that sink in …

Powell could lead the team in rushing four consecutive seasons – a feat only one other Buff has accomplished – yet still leave CU with a career total so low as to not crack the top ten on CU’s all-time rushing list.

Such is the state of Colorado football.

In the past four seasons, the Buffs have been ranked 106th, 109th, 108th and 75th in the nation in rushing. The move out of triple digits is certainly a promising sign, but there is a long ways to go before Colorado can be considered as having a powerful rushing attack.

Here’s hoping for a quantum leap forward in 2015.

CU Running Back Roster Grade … C … There is some quality in the lineup, and there is certainly depth. What Colorado needs, though, is for a star to emerge. Perhaps Powell, or Adkins, or Lindsay – if any one of them can stay healthy for an entire season – can become the star attraction out of the CU backfield. Perhaps a newcomer – Kyle Evans, Aaron Baltazar, or Patrick Carr – will turn heads in August, and become the feature back come Pac-12 conference play.

If CU is to have any hope of playing in a bowl in 2015, CU”s “running back by committee” needs to come to an end.



One Reply to “Rating the CU Roster – RB’s”

  1. Yo Stuart,

    Nice write-up, but…
    We need to put the pressure where it is due, on the offensive line. Until the hogs up front start knocking folks on their butts and dominating the line of scrimmage, the rushing game will continue to be suspect.

    The good news is that the Buffs improved drastically last year, and another jump this year (maybe into the top 40 in the country) in rushing, combined with a big time passing game will make the Buffs a team that can go head to head with the best.

    Now, if we can just get the Buffs D to respond to their new coaches and schemes, we might just be in for a big surprise this fall.


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