Late in Colorado's 47-6 victory against Oregon State on Saturday at Folsom Field, a former star reminded everybody that he's still got it.
Running back Michael Adkins II scampered for 16 yards on his first carry. A few minutes later, he pushed his way into the end zone for a touchdown.
For a few moments, Adkins, now finally healthy, looked like his old self, running seven times for 31 yards during a 15-play scoring drive.
"It definitely feels good to get in there," Adkins said. "I hope to get some more meaningful reps in the games, but definitely it was good to get in there and play a little bit."
After rushing for 209 yards and three touchdowns in CU's first two games of the 2015 season, Adkins injured his hamstring on his first carry of game 3 vs. Colorado State. He didn't play the rest of the season.
This season, he came into fall camp healthy, but it didn't take long for hamstring trouble to spring up again. Then, he dealt with an ankle injury and didn't play in three of the Buffs' first four games. Going into last Saturday, Adkins had two carries — both late in a loss to Michigan — for minus-4 yards.
"It's frustrating to have injuries and I've had injuries my whole career," he said. "Being able to score a touchdown and get back out there (against Oregon State) and get into the groove, hopefully I can just keep moving forward from here."
Junior Phillip Lindsay (338 yards, 6 touchdowns) has become the Buffs' lead runner, with former walk-on Kyle Evans (214 yards, 2 touchdowns) the primary backup. Junior Donovan Lee is in the mix, too.
When healthy, Adkins has been dynamic. During his career, he has 1,172 yards and four 100-yard games. With seven games to play in the regular season, Adkins hopes to show he can be that valuable again.
"I'm a competitor," he said. "Competitors want to be the best and they want to be at the top and contributing. I definitely want to keep working at practice and seeing what I can do.
"My hamstring feels great, my ankle feels great. I'm definitely ready to keep attacking the season and keep moving forward as a team."
No big deal
Head coach Mike MacIntyre said the Buffs spend "maybe five seconds" talking about the fact they are ranked among the Top 25 for the first time in 11 years. They are No. 21 in the Associated Press poll and No. 23 in the Amway Coaches' poll.
"Basically what I said is they've earned the right to be acknowledged for what they've done, but it means nothing Saturday," MacIntyre said. "We have to keep proving it week after week after week. It's what got us here, our work ethic and believing in Colorado football. They have to keep doing that exact same thing."
Keying on the Trojans
Saturday's opponent, Southern California, is loaded with talent and two players that have caught MacIntyre's attention are receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and cornerback/returner Adoree' Jackson. Both are potential early-round picks in the NFL.
"JuJu is a heck of a player," MacIntyre said. "He's going to make some plays, we just can't give him up too many big plays. We've got to be able to handle that and understand that they're going to make some plays, because they've got some good football players and so do we. We can't let him just run wild on us."
Jackson has already returned a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns this season.
"He's a phenomenal athlete," MacIntyre said. "He's fearless back there as a punt returner. We've got to cover well and punt it well. We're definitely working on stopping him. We've got to know where No. 2 is and go get him."
Receiver Shay Fields and linebacker Rick Gamboa are two of many CU players who grew up as USC fans and idolizing players such as Reggie Bush. Gamboa, in fact, said he had a Bush jersey growing up. Fields, however said, "Now I'm a Buff fan." ... CU has forced a turnover in 18 consecutive games, the longest streak in the country. Gamboa said it's a source of pride for the defense to get turnovers. "We want to do anything we can to get the offense the ball back," he said.