Spring Practices Analysis – Running Backs

Colorado has concluded its spring practices, with three of the 15 practices open to the public, including a “Spring Showcase” which featured a glorified scrimmage instead of a Spring game.

While information has been limited, there have been notes and quotes aplenty. Over the next few weeks, we will review each unit on the team, along with analysis as to whether Buff fans should be C+ … Confident; C … Cautiously optimistic; or C- … Concerned.

Previously postedQuarterbacks

Running Backs

Notes … In the Spring Showcase, there was one rushing touchdown … except that there wasn’t.

Quarterback Steven Montez scored on a 43-yard run (punctuated by a spike over the goalpost, which resulted in a scolding from the head coach), but that was reduced to a 24-yard run as the Buff defense was not allowed to tackle the quarterback.

Take away the scrambling efforts of Montez, and the CU rushing attack was non-existent, with the four scholarship backs combining to post 16 carries for 44 yards.

All four candidates to replace Phillip Lindsay as CU’s feature back had carries, but only Alex Fontenot had any measurable success, with seven carries for 28 yards and two first downs. Otherwise, the Buff numbers could be measured with a microscope … Beau Bisharat: three carries for seven yards; Kyle Evans: two carries for six yards; Donovan Lee: four carries for three yards.

Granted, it was a vanilla scrimmage with only 19 running plays, but there was very little in the Spring Showcase to get fans excited about the CU running game.

Quotes … When you go looking for quotes on the spring running back candidates, you are going to be disappointed. When I Googled “Alex Fontenot”, for example, there was very little in the way of news items. One line did raise an eyebrow, as it was a caption to a Denver Post article on the UCLA game last fall, “Colorado running back Alex Fontenot, left, runs the ball as UCLA linebacker Kenny Young chases during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, in Pasadena, Calif.”.

The notation caught my eye mainly because Alex Fontenot is a red-shirt freshman, and didn’t play last season (the picture in the Post is of Laviska Shenault).

But the photo does help to demonstrate the dearth of articles about the CU running backs this spring.

Fontenot did receive some praise from both his head coach and his offensive coordinator this spring. Mike MacIntyre listed Fontenot as one of the players who made “a jump” between the first and last practices, while Darrin Chiaverini allowed, “Alex Fontenot has a bright, bright future at Colorado.”

Kyle Evans, a senior, is competing with fellow senior Donovan Lee, junior Beau Bisharat and redshirt freshman Alex Fontenot.

“It’s going well,” Evans said of his spring. “I’m a very hard critic of myself, so there’s a lot of things every day I think I can work on. I try to keep the other running backs to that standard, too, because the harder we are on ourselves, the better we’ll be and the more we’ll want to work to be great.”

Analysis … Perhaps the lack of attention to the CU running back corps this spring was due to the assumption that none of the backs in the current lineup will be the featured back come September.

On Saturday, May 12th, Virginia Tech will hold its commencement ceremonies.

The event will have the attention of the Buff Nation, as that weekend senior running back Travon McMillian is expected to graduate, making him eligible to sign with another school. Unless McMillian pulls a “Davis Webb” on the Buffs, and signs with another school after spending the spring committed to Colorado, the former 1,000-yard rusher will be on campus this summer, and inserted – in all likelihood – into the starting lineup this fall.

Still, it was disappointing that there were not rave reviews coming out of spring practices at CU about one or more of the backs who are on campus.

Recall what Lance Carl had to say about the four scholarship backs on campus this spring:

Let’s talk about what we have. None of our running backs should be concerned about who is not here. They should be concerned about who is here, and what they are learning in that room, and how they can be the best running back that we need in this offense. That’s what they should be focused on.

They are all competitive kids. So they know that when ‘He who shall not be named’ is not here, that they are really going to have to step up their game. Because that person who is coming in her is an established Power Five running back. Everybody in our backfield right now, is not an established Power-Five running back. So, what can they do? What can they control? Attitude and effort. They can control the next play. They can control sitting in (running backs coach) Darian Hagan’s office and asking, ‘What can I do to control my standing in your eyes?’. That’s what they need to focus on.

Everyone looks good in shorts. Everyone looks good in drills. But I will say this. If (junior) Beau Bisharat is going to make a move, this is the year for Beau Bisharat to make a move. If Kyle Evans is going to play as a senior, now is the spring to show that he can be that guy. If (redshirt freshman) Alex Fontenot is going to take that jump from scout team performer – who really played well last fall, and made some moves that made you say ‘Hmmmm’ – to someone who can be special, then this spring is the time to do it. Because ‘He who shall not be named’ is not here. All eyes are on them. Don’t worry about who is not here; worry about who is here. Your competition is in this room. In spring ball, everything they do, is on tape, and everything that is on tape is evaluated by the coaches. And they are evaluating the players that are here, not the players who aren’t here.

Imagine, for a moment, if McMillian wasn’t coming to Colorado, or if he backs out of his commitment … where would the Buffs be heading into the 2018 season?

Last season, Beau Bisharat had 21 carries for 61 yards, while Kyle Evans had two carries for two yards.

Donovan Lee sat out the season after suffering a fractured fibula in spring practices last March (in 2016, Lee had a total of 28 carries for 97 yards).

Those are your running backs on the roster with playing experience, joined on the roster by redshirt freshman Alex Fontenot and this fall by true freshmen Jarek Broussard and Deion Smith.

Anyone believe that lineup would strike fear into the hearts of Pac-12 defensive coordinators?

Last season, Phillip Lindsay rushed for 1,474 yards and 14 touchdowns. In leading CU in rushing for the third consecutive season, Lindsay finished his career with over two dozen school records.

Who will be the “next man up” at Colorado?

Buff fans are left to assume that it will be Travon McMillian … as the news out of spring practices did not leave the Buff Nation with the impression that there was any separation among the remaining roster of running backs.

Grade … C- … Concerned

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6 Replies to “Notes and Quotes – RB’s”

  1. Okay I like this little wrap up dealeoo?

    Can’t wait for the ones on the coaches.

    Late so………..
    QB’s Roper is the real deal.(As you recall I waited to judge and Stu well was stu) My vote is in. All the qb’s have talent. Good talent. Now they have a real coach. Mac needs to keep his nose outta this. If the ‘Rope’does have macs ear, when the ‘Rope’ says change qb then………well there ya go.

    Running backs. At some point ya just have to move on. (from the rb coach/recruiter.)

    So.

    2013
    Phil Lindsay. recruited as a 3 star by Eric Bieniemy rb coach adams
    Michael Adkins recruited as a 2 star by Kent Baer rb coach adams
    Ryan Severson recruited as a 2 star by Adams rb coach adams

    2014
    Donovan lee .recruited as a 3 star DB by bernardi rb coach adams
    Kyle Evans Walk on no rating rb coach adams

    2015
    Patrick Carr…recruited 3 star by troy waters..rb coach Hagan )
    Donald Gordon…recruited 3 star by Adams. rb coach Hagan

    2016
    Beau Bisharat.. 4 star recruited by ? rb coach Hagan

    2017
    Alex Fontenot 3 star recruited by Hagan, Chev

    2018
    Deon Smith 3 star recruited by Hagan
    Jarek Brussard, 3 star recruited by Hagan

    Buffs

    1. Add on Note:
      Certainly ol dol dude didn’t get this.

      Sure am glad EB recruited Phil.

      Hmmm and that the then Director of Player Personnel convinced the new HC and RB Coach that the injured Lindsay had the “it”

      Don’t believe it was because of the benevolence of the “band of Mountain West Conference, NCAA Division I FBS level coaches” who strolled into town on their “know it all” egos. HA! (Bohn did not get canned soon enough) But i drift.

      Actually Beau was recruited by Adams. He sure had (still has) BillyMacs ear) Hagan not part of the San Jose ‘Smartans’ group. Inner note: Hagan is the RB man now…..No more baer, bernardi adams deciding about RB. Nice.

      Expect the best

      Maturation

      Buffs

  2. If I were a CU coach and wanted Travon McMillan to come to CU, I sure would not be talking up the present players, even if they are going to be awesome.

  3. Same thing with the QB “worries”
    The O was vanilla…the D had the advantage
    Chev is the O coordinator now. Depending on what kind of leash Mac has on him, I expect the passing game to be the emphasis this season. Instead of the same ol ” I cant think of anything else (ex OC) lets give it to Phil again” game plan, if the passing game is successful AZBuff could pick up first downs on the off balance running plays….well maybe once depending on the severity of the injuries.
    Yes McMillan has experience and a certain amount of success, but I’m not sure he sliced bread ahead of Fontenot and Evans.

    1. Aww, c’mon, ep! You’re harshing VK’s mellow with all your TRUE FACTS analysis.

      Let an old man shine in his role as AC QB!

      1. I see the medicine arrived in the mail early. Keep on schedule. Don’t get ahead of the dosage schedule. When you do, like now, the incoherent gene takes over.

        Get off your grass

        Buffs.

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