CU football: Buffs’ Lindsay trying to jump-start running game

Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
CU running back Phillip Lindsay had a career-high 23 carries against Arizona on Saturday.

For the past couple of seasons, the Colorado football team has had a committee approach to its run game.

Sophomore Phillip Lindsay may be separating himself a little bit, though.

Lindsay had a career-high 23 carries in Saturday’s 38-31 loss to Arizona. It’s the most carries by a single player since Mike MacIntyre and his staff arrived in Boulder before the 2013 season, and just the fourth time anybody has had as many as 20.

“We wanted to get Phil in a groove and put him in a situation where he’s able to see a lot of different things,” running backs coach Klayton Adams said.

Lindsay had 91 yards against Arizona, and has posted 284 yards and four touchdowns on 61 carries in the past four games. He’s the first player to lead CU in rushing four consecutive games since Christian Powell did so late in 2012.

Whether the heavy work load for Lindsay continues remains to be seen. The Buffs (3-4, 0-3 Pac-12) are simply trying to find what works to get their running game going.

The Buffs are averaging just 84.7 rushing yards in Pac-12 play. Sack yards count in those numbers, but taking those out, the tailbacks have managed just 94.0 yards in Pac-12 play, on 3.9 yards per rush.

Quarterback Sefo Liufau said the name of the ball carrier doesn’t matter as much as the execution of everybody on the team.

“We just have to be more consistent in being able to execute at all positions because if one guy doesn’t get the right block in terms of the run game, the whole play can fall apart,” Liufau said.

Lately, Lindsay has had the most success, with freshman Patrick Carr chipping in with 52 yards on 11 carries over the past two games.

Powell, meanwhile, has been somewhat forgotten. He was the team’s leading rusher through five games, but has a total of four carries for seven yards the past two weeks. He had one carry for one yard against Arizona.

In his 39 career games, Powell has had fewer than five carries just three times — one carry in the first game of his career, in 2012, and each of the past two games.

“I probably could have put him in a couple more situations on Saturday,” Adams said. “There’s still a lot of games left in the season. He’s done a good job on a lot of things, so it’s our job to put him in a situation where he can be productive and successful.”

With junior Michael Adkins likely to miss his fifth consecutive game with a hamstring injury, the Buffs are searching for success from anybody, whether it’s Carr, Lindsay or Powell.

“Right now, (Lindsay) has probably been the most complete guy, so we’ve been trying to give him some opportunities,” Adams said.

Moving the chains

Liufau said he’s seen some positive steps by the offense in recent weeks, but not enough.

He pointed towards a pair of false start penalties from Saturday that put the Buffs in third-and-long situations, and the Buffs wound up having to punt.

“I think we’ve done some things a lot better than we have at the beginning of the season, but we’re still not executing at the level we want to,” he said.

Looking forward

Cornerback Kenneth Crawley said that despite a three-game losing streak, the Buffs have remain confident as they look to the final six games of the season.

“Just keep believing in ourselves,” he said. “At this point, we don’t need no pre-game talk. We just have to go out there and do our job and execute. There’s no other way to say it. That’s what we have to do.”

Notable

MacIntyre has faced Oregon State coach Gary Andersen three times, from 2010-12, when both coaches in the Western Athletic Conference. Anderson’s Utah State team beat MacIntyre’s San Jose State team all three times, but two of the games were decided by four points or less.

Brian Howell: howellb@dailycamera.com, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.