CU Season Preview – Running Backs

Running Backs


— Seniors: None

— Juniors: Phillip Lindsay; Michael Adkins; Donovan Lee; Joey Tuggle; Tanner Grzesiek

— Sophomores: Kyle Evans 

— Red-shirt freshman: Dino Gordon (suspended)

— True freshman: Beau Bisharat

bold (returning starter) … italicized (walk-on)


Reasons to be excited:

Depth not an issue … The Buffs lose Christian Powell from the lineup, but have a number of quality options for the 2016 season.

Phillip Lindsay lead the team in rushing last year, going for 653 yards with a healthy 4.66-per carry average. Also returning is junior Donovan Lee (286 yards), who made the move to running back from wide receiver last season, showing some big-play potential in averaging 5.83 yards per carry.

Also back is junior Michael Adkins II — maybe the Buffs’ most-productive back when healthy. Adkins went for 90 yards and two touchdowns in the 2015 opener against Hawai’i, then posted 119 yards and another score against UMass … before being injured and lost for the season early in the next game against Colorado State.

All this before adding incoming freshman Beau Bisharat to the mix.

Hard to argue … there are options aplenty for the Buffs this fall.

Buffs actually have a dedicated running backs coach – and a good one … On Signing Day, 2016, former Buff great Darian Hagan held the title of CU’s director of player personnel. Ten days later, Hagan was named the CU’s running backs coach, and just having Hagan back on the field is a plus for the Buffs’ rushing attack.

“I just missed being out on the field with the guys, rallying with the guys, in the heat of the battle with the guys and preparing,” Hagan said upon the announcement of the move. “Preparation is key and I just missed that. I missed trying to affect their minds, getting them to see what coaches see and helping them be the players they want to be.”

This will be Hagan’s second run as an assistant coach with the Buffs as he previously worked with skill position players under Gary Barnett and Dan Hawkins from 2005-2010. During those years, Hagan coached running backs Rodney Stewart and Hugh Charles to two of the top seven rushing seasons in school history.

“Darian brings a lot of pride and passion to our football program with his history here, and also brings expertise to our running backs,” head coach Mike MacIntyre said in a release from the school. “In shifting our offensive staff assignments a little bit, he will give us another dimension in our running game and working with our running backs”.

Buff fans are excited to see what having a dedicated running backs coach can do (Klayton Adams handled both running backs and tight ends previously, moving on to take over the offensive line this year), and, with Hagan’s track record, he was an excellent choice.


Buffs actually have a four-star running back in town this summer … Beau Bisharat would be forgiven i if he said he never heard of Marcus Houston or Darrell Scott … and it’s just as well.

For some reason, Colorado and four-star running backs have been an oil-and-vinegar combination, but Buff fans are optimistic that Bisharat can break that trend.

During his career at Jesuit High School, he rushed for 4,130 yards and 43 touchdowns, averaging 10.1 yards per carry. He also caught 57 passes for 834 yards and six touchdowns.

Bisharat, at 6’2″, 217 pounds, is quite a bit different from CU’s talented, but smaller, running backs — juniors Michael Adkins II (5-10, 205), Donovan Lee (5-9, 175) and Phillip Lindsay (5-8, 180) and sophomore Patrick Carr (5-8, 195) — but he’s not just a change-of-pace bruiser.

“Everybody that recruited me always told me that I’m an every-down type of back,” told the Daily Camera upon his arrival in Boulder for summer school. “I’d love to be that for Colorado.

“I am probably more of a short-yardage back, but I can also go the distance, too.”

With a talented group in front of him, 2016 might not be the year of Beau, but he does give Buff fans reason to be excited about the near future.


Reasons for concern:

Buffs have yet to establish a star running back under Mike MacIntyre … In his first three seasons at Colorado, Christian Powell led the Buffs in rushing … with ever decreasing numbers. In 2012, Powell led the Buffs with 691 yards; in 2013, the total was down to 562; in 2014, it was 448. As noted, Phillip Lindsay led CU last year, with a grand total of 653 yards.

What was that line from the anonymous Pac-12 defensive coach about the Buffs in the red zone?

Oh, yeah … “They didn’t have anyone who really scared us“.

In the last ten (losing record) seasons, the Buffs have produced only one 1,000-yard rusher (Rodney Stewart went for 1,318 in 2010).

While the players on the current roster all bring their own list of talents to the table, none has proven themselves to be the “go-to” back which can take over a game.

Granted, the passing game has become the primary focus in college football, but the running game cannot be overlooked.

While at Texas Tech last year, Darrin Chiaverini’s offense produced a back who went for almost 1,500 yards (DeAndre Washington – 1,492 yards; 6.4 yards per attempt).

No one is expected a 1,400-yard rusher out of Colorado this season.

But, if CU’s leading ground gainer goes for only 554 yards (the average for the Buffs’ leading rusher in the three years under Mike MacIntyre), it’s going to be another long year.


Stats don’t give Buff fans warm fuzzies … More numbers.

Colorado has improved its rushing totals over the past three seasons, going from 120.8 yards per game on the ground in 2013, to 154.6 per game in 2014, to 156.2 per game last fall.

But poke a little deeper.

The Buffs rushed for 390 yards against Massachusetts, then 358 yards against Nicholls State.



Colorado produced five 100-yard rushing efforts last fall, but four of the five were against the Minutemen and the Colonels. The only other 100-yard game the rest of the season came when Patrick Carr went for exactly 100 yards against UCLA.

Against Pac-12 competition, the Colorado rushing attack only mustered 100 yards – as a team – twice in nine conference games. November’s rushing totals … Stanford: 83 yards; USC: 59 yards; Washington State: 85 yards; Utah: 49 yards.

Yes, some of those numbers are attributable to the defenses of the opponents … and the weather … and the game situations.

And, yes, the Buff offensive line was a deficiency all season.

Still, the numbers don’t lie.

For Colorado to go bowling in 2016, consistent productivity from the running backs is a must.


Bottom Line … 

I like Phillip Lindsay. He is a passionate Buff, and as tough as they come (recall Lance Carl’s quote this spring about how Lindsay’s teammates would choose this 5’8″, 180-pounder to be with them in a street fight).

I like Michael Adkins. When healthy, he has proven to be the most versatile and productive back in the roster.

I like Donovan Lee and Patrick Carr, who bring speed and tantalizing options to the lineup.

I like Beau Bisharat … and all the potential he brought with him to Boulder this summer.

I would also like to see one – or, perhaps, two – of them step up and lead Colorado to an upset of a ranked team, and to a bowl game in December.



One Reply to “CU Preview – Running Backs”

  1. You could see the difference in the Spring Game that Hagan made: backs showed much more patience in running behind the OL to set up blocks and pick their spots for cutting back. The other thing is pass blocking. They looked more accomplished in that phase as well. Adams as a former OL just didn’t have the feel for RBs that Hagan does and from all accounts Hagan has learned and developed as a coach as well.

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