Averaging 26 rushing attempts per game is a heavy workload for any running back, let alone one with a 5-foot-9, 185-pound frame and a history of knee injuries.
Yet, asked if he’d be OK with seeing that number reduced this year, Colorado’s Jarek Broussard smiled, puts his arms out, shrugged his shoulders and said, “I ain’t trippin’ off getting the ball because, I mean, obviously I would want the ball. But, we have a good room and it would be very beneficial to see more guys contribute to the team success.
“If I have to, I’ll do what I gotta do to help the team win.”
Broussard battled back from two knee injuries in previous years to earn Pac-12 offensive player of the year honors in 2020 after leading the Buffs with 813 rushing yards during the five-game regular season. He added 82 more in the Alamo Bowl.
Nationally, Minnesota’s Mohamed Ibrahim was the only player to average more attempts per game (28.7) than Broussard, in part because the Buffs didn’t have great options around him.
This year, Alex Fontenot, the Buffs’ leading rusher in 2019, is back from injury, and Ashaad Clayton is a more mature second-year player. Deion Smith, who is also back from injury, Joe Davis and Jayle Stacks help to make the room even deeper.
“We have a deep room and we all just feed off each other’s success,” Broussard said. “Despite me getting player of the year accolades, all that does is it motivates the other guys in the room. Fontenot was the leading rusher when I was here (in 2019), so that just gave me the confidence in myself to like, ‘Okay, maybe I could do that, too.’
“We all like build each other because that’s gonna bring the best out of us. That’s really the focus instead of the depth and who is first, who is second, who is third.”
If all goes well, the Buffs could wind up with a stable of backs to contribute. That could mean Broussard only gets 18-20 carries a game, while Fontenot and Clayton, or others are getting 8-10 each.
“If we get to that point, then the sky’s the limit because that’s gonna be hard to stop,” Broussard said.
Another good day
Head coach Karl Dorrell was pleased with Thursday’s first day of preseason camp, and he was just as pleased with Friday’s session.
“Another good practice,” he said. “I think we’re maturing as a football team and really understanding how camp goes. It’s a marathon, and the thing that I try to stress with these guys is that we’ve just got to keep stacking up practices — good practices — back to back to back to back. … We’re inching our way to doing some really great things in execution and being the caliber of team that I think that this team has potential to be.”
Dorrell said the practice featured some good give and take from the offense and defense, which is what he wanted to see.
With camp now underway, Dorrell said a key to stacking good practices is the players taking care of themselves.
“I think the big thing when guys start practicing every day is making sure we take care of our bodies,” he said. “We had a long discussion about that after practice because they’re going to start getting sore and muscle soreness and stuff like that. We want them to be preventive on handling their own situation.”
Dorrell added that the coaching staff is trying to deliver the majority of information and game planning to the players before school starts on Aug. 23.
“I think this team has a good level of maturity because the leaders on the team are keeping everybody accountable,” he said.
Stacks making impression
A second-year freshman from Cherry Creek, Stacks had a good spring and is carrying that over to the fall, to the point where the 5-foot-11, 230-pound back is potentially earning a key role on the offense.
“There’s a couple of NFL fullbacks that sometimes they’re playing in a number of spots, even though they’re labeled a fullback,” Dorrell said. “They’ve been the one back runner behind the quarterback, they’ve been obviously the fullback in some two-back offense and then they’re also playing at the tight end position and being in the slot. Jayle has that ability. I think he’s embraced it, too. He knows he’s unique.”
Stacks is the biggest running back on the team and could be utilized as a blocker or short-yardage runner, but he also does a good job of catching the ball when it’s thrown his way.
“We’re very pleased with where he’s going and how we’re going to utilize him moving forward and I’m sure he’s excited, too,” Dorrell said.
Dorrell said tight end Brady Russell, who missed the last four games of 2020 and was limited in spring, is completely healthy and has looked good in camp. … Dorrell added that tight ends Alec Pell, Caleb Fauria and Erik Olsen have all made strides since the spring. … Despite being a young player, second-year freshman cornerback Christian Gonzalez is emerging as a leader in the secondary, Dorrell said.