CU Season Preview – Running Backs

Previously postedCU Season Preview: Quarterbacks

Running Backs 

Roster:

— Seniors: Phillip Lindsay; Michael Adkins; Donovan Lee; Tanner Grzesiek

— Junior: Kyle Evans

— Sophomores: Beau Bisharat; Riley Hills

— Red-shirt freshman: N/A

— True freshman: Alex Fontenot

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

By the Numbers:

Phillip Lindsay … 230 carries for 1,189 yards; 16 touchdowns … He is third career all-purpose yards with 4,029 (2,233 rushing, 719 receiving, 1,077 kickoff returns), 13th in rushing yards (2,233), and tied for 22nd in scoring (144 points).  He became the 14th player to join CU’s 500/500 Club (rushing and receiving yards). He has 449 career rushing attempts, but just 59 yards lost on those carries.  He also ranks 24th with 87 career receptions and is tied for 42nd in receiving yards with 719.

Kyle Evans … 84 carries for 346 yards; three touchdowns … played in 13 games in 2016 … also had eight catches for 114 yards

Donovan Lee … 28 carries for 97 yards … played in 10 games in 2016, starting the UCLA game … also had seven catches for 38 yards

Beau Bisharat … 15 carries for 45 yards … played in 13 games in 2016 … seventh on the team in special teams points … received the Bill McCartney award for special teams contributions

Michael Adkins … 10 carries for 30 yards, appearing in only three games … also played in only three games in 2015 (ham string) … ranks 42nd on CU’s all-time rushing list (1,175 yards) as well as tied for 63rd in scoring (84 points)

CU running back unit (Athlon) … 6th in the Pac-12

 

Reasons to be excited:

— Phillip Lindsay … Phillip Lindsay … Phillip Lindsay.

Lindsay led the Pac-12 last season with 16 rushing touchdowns, and was third on the team in receptions. He was named captain for the 2017 season joining Pat Carney (1891-92-93) and former teammate Sefo Liufau (2014-15-16) as the only Buffs to serve three years as captain. In the spring, he was awarded the Eddie Crowder Award for outstanding leadership along with linebacker Rick Gamboa.

Lindsaay’s 1,189 rushing yards last season marked just the fourth time a CU back has gone over the century mark since 1990 (Chris Brown, 2002: Bobby Purify, 2004; and Rodney Stewart, 2010). If Lindsay can stay healthy, he will push for all-conference honors this fall. If the Buffs post another ten-win season, Lindsay will receive some All-American mention. Lindsay is only 5’8″ (6’0″ even with the hair), but is 190-pounds of heart and durability.

— More options behind Lindsay.

Kyle Evans (dislocated hip) and Donovan Lee (fractured ankle) were injured this spring, opening the door for Michael Adkins and Beau Bisharat to impress the coaching staff. Adkins has played in a grand total of six games the past two seasons, but is (finally) healthy, and had a good spring. If Adkins can stay healthy, he will be in position to remind the Buff Nation that he has over 1,000 career rushing yards in a CU uniform.

Bisharat, meanwhile, is learning what it means to be a collegiate running back. Instead of trying to bully his way through defenders, he is learning patience in waiting for holes to open. With three seniors in the lineup, and junior Kyle Evans a question mark, Bisharat will have the opportunity to demonstrate that he is the running back of the future at Colorado.

Reasons for concern:

— Phillip Lindsay … Phillip Lindsay … and … fingers crossed.

 

As the Buffs get set to start summer workouts, the one player listed as “out” is running back Kyle Evans.

The junior former walk-on dislocated his hip in early March and faced a long recovery. The Buffs remain hopeful that Evans can return at some point this season, if not during fall camp.

Donovan Lee, who broke his fibula in March, is running and expected to be ready for fall camp.

Colorado will only have six scholarship running backs this fall, and that is counting the two injured backs as well as incoming freshman Alex Fontenot. The most experienced is Michael Adkins, who has seen the field for a total of six games in two seasons. Back in 2013, Adkins was an honorable mention freshman All-American, rushing for 535 yards and six touchdowns despite missing three games. The following season, had 398 yards before his season was ended with a knee injury.

If healthy, Adkins can be effective. But, as history has shown, with Adkins, that is a very big if.

— If Colorado is one-dimensional, it will make it more difficult for the Buff offense to be effective.

If Phillip Lindsay and Michael Adkins go down, the Colorado running game might fall onto the shoulders of an underclassman.

This is not to say that sophomore Beau Bisharat and incoming true freshman Alex Fontenot are not quality backs. Bisharat, a four-star prospect, was the highest-rated recruit out of CU’s 18-member Recruiting Class of 2016. Fontenot, meanwhile, is a three-star signee from this past February who was rated by Rivals as the No. 55 running back prospect in the nation.

Good options … but if sophomore quarterback Steven Montez is sharing the backfield with a sophomore or a true freshman, Pac-12 opponents will focus on stopping CU’s passing attack, making the entire offense less potent.

 

Bottom Line:

— Phillip Lindsay has proven to be durable. In only one game last season did Lindsay not have at least ten carries and 50 yards, and that was in the blowout win over Idaho State, in which Lindsay had seven carries for 30 yards (and two touchdowns) before taking the rest of the afternoon off in a 56-7 laugher.

If Lindsay can remain healthy, then the Colorado rushing attack can be quite effective. The Buffs were 56th in the nation last year in rushing, going for 182.6 yards per game. While not a dominating number, the 182.6 yard per game average was over 60 yards per game better than in 2015, and the average was the highest for any CU team since the 2002.

If Lindsay can remain healthy, there is no reason to believe that the Colorado rushing attack won’t do even better in 2017. The offensive line has four returning starters, and the passing game will be amongst the most feared in the Pac-12 conference, if not the nation. That combination will make a successful running game a true option for CU’s co-offensive coordinators, Darrin Chiaverini and Brian Lindgren.

Phillip Lindsay is a leader. Phillip Lindsay is a dynamo. Phillip Lindsay is more than capable of posting CU’s first back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons in … well, ever. (Eric Bieniemy had two 1,000-yard campaigns, but they were 1988 and 1990).

Just keep Phillip Lindsay healthy … and watch him go.

—–

 

2 Replies to “Season Preview – RB’s”

    1. Agree, but not at the expense of not utilizing Lindsey and Adkins who, I think, has the best running skills of the bunch. BeauBish could modify that comment, however, if he gets the opportunity to shine…..then does.

      Go Big Buffs !!

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