Andy Cross / The Denver Post
Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
During preseason camp, Colorado football coaches often spoke highly of their backup running backs.
Most notably, coaches praised senior Michael Adkins II and sophomore Beau Bisharat, with both of them showing a lot of improvement from last year.
Four games into the season, however, the Buffs (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12) have hardly used their backups.
Of course, a lot of that has to do with senior starter Phillip Lindsay having a great season. He’s got 446 yards and four touchdowns, and his 111.5 yards per game ranks third in the Pac-12.
Going into this week’s matchup at UCLA (2-2, 0-1), Lindsay has been one of the busiest backs in the country. Only four running backs at the FBS level have more carries than Lindsay’s 90 (22.5 per game).
“Phillip’s been running really, really well and doing some good things,” head coach Mike MacIntyre said. “We’ll get different guys in there at different times. It’s just what we’re thinking at the time. I think Phillip’s done pretty good. There will be times we’ll need to get the other guys in there, no doubt, and we feel good about all those guys.”
Just not good enough to take Lindsay off the field.
Adkins, who has rushed for 1,200 yards in his career, has just nine carries for 25 yards. He had one carry on Sept. 16 against Northern Colorado — early in the third quarter — and fumbled. He hasn’t seen the field since.
Bisharat has eight carries for 12 yards, including a career high five rushed for 11 yards in a 37-10 loss to Washington on Saturday. He’s been used primarily in short-yardage situations.
Kyle Evans, last year’s No. 2 tailback, has one carry for 3 yards in the two games he’s played since returning from an offseason hip injury.
At some point, the Buffs may need to call on one of the backups, but for now they’re using Lindsay more than ever. His 22.5 carries per game is nearly five more per contest than a year ago, when he rushed for 1,189 yards and 16 touchdowns.
“Yes, and no,” MacIntyre said when asked if he’s worried about using Lindsay too much. “He’s hard to wear down. There could be one hit that could wear him down. There’s a lot of great running backs out there that keep playing and keep playing and keep playing.”