Last Saturday, Phillip Lindsay carried the football more than any other running back in Colorado history.
Had it not been for the efforts of Beau Bisharat, Lindsay might have been even busier.
Despite the disappointing 45-42 loss to Arizona, Lindsay was sensational in rushing for a career-high 281 yards and three touchdowns on a school-record 41 carries.
Bisharat, meanwhile, contributed an extremely valuable 32 yards on his eight carries. Those are modest numbers, but his efforts allowed Lindsay to get some much-needed rest at times.
“That was huge, because (Lindsay) was dog tired,” CU running backs coach Darian Hagan said. “To have a guy who has the potential like Beau to spell him, that was really big for his growth and our growth.”
Arguably the top recruit in CU’s 2016 class, Bisharat came to Boulder as a four-star prospect. The Sacramento product picked the Buffs over his hometown California Golden Bears, and that was after originally committing to Stanford. In the final hours of the recruiting process, even Alabama was showing interest.
The true sophomore has been a key member of CU’s special teams the past two seasons, but hasn’t had much of an impact as a runner, until last week.
Prior to Saturday, Bisharat had just 57 yards on 21 carries in his career.
“It was definitely hard,” Bisharat said. “I wouldn’t say I was really doubting myself, but I was questioning, ‘OK, I’ve never really got in open space like I was in high school.’ It’s a lot different than college.”
While Bisharat has yet to score a touchdown and his longest run was only seven yards against Arizona, he had one first down and set up the Buffs in third-and-short situations that they converted.
“(Against Arizona), it was nice to be able to get some confidence and be able to run the ball a little bit on a Pac-12 team like that,” he said.
“I just felt a lot more calm than I have ever felt in a game. I lot of the times I’m so scared to mess up or something, but when I went in there this week I was a lot more composed. I went through my reads and did what I was supposed to do. If eel like it was a lot easier for me this week.”
The Buffs are hoping that was a springboard performance for Bisharat, who, at 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, is the biggest of CU’s running backs.
Lindsay, a senior, has followed up his fantastic junior year with another great season. He’s fifth in the country with 810 yards rushing and has also scored eight touchdowns on the ground.
The 5-foot-8, 190-pound Lindsay also leads the country with 150 carries, and trying to limit the pounding on his body will be important in the second half of the year.
“You don’t want to get Phil beat up,” Hagan said. “We have to keep going and keep pressing and keep playing football, but you also want to make sure we’re taking care of him.”
It’ll be easier to take care of Lindsay if the Buffs can get some production out of the backups, who have combined for just 72 yards on 28 carries this season.
Hagan said the Buffs still believe Michael Adkins II (1,200 career yards) and Kyle Evans (No. 2 tailback with 346 yards last season) can help the Buffs win games if needed, but for now, Bisharat has emerged as the No. 2 tailback.
“I’m proud of Beau,” Lindsay said. “He’s finally getting in there and getting his touches and he’s starting to get comfortable. It’s exciting .I’m proud of him. Beau has come a long way. To see him out there producing and getting first downs, it’s a great feeling and it shows he’s ready to play.”
While Bisharat would love to break a few long runs and produce better statistics, his performance against Arizona was encouraging.
“I feel like I might have gained some of (the coaches’) trust a little bit, because I’ve never really been carrying the ball in a game like that,” he said.
“It was nice.”