CU's Running Game Will Determine the Season (and That's Good News)

The Buffaloes averaged 3.8 yards per carry in 2018 -- that won't do

On the surface, it looks like Colorado had a strong running game in 2018. Travon McMillian ran for 1,009 yards on just 201 carries, and the Buffaloes averaged 143 rushing yards per game, which OK. 

The trouble was, Colorado's next two leading rushers were Steven Montez and Kyle Evans, both of whom averaged less than three yards per run. As a team, the Buffaloes averaged 3.8 yards per attempt, which is pretty close to the Mendoza Line when it comes to running the pig. Only two Pac-12 teams, Washington State and Stanford, averaged fewer YPC than that. (For comparison, conference leader Arizona averaged 4.9 YPC). 

Coach Mel Tucker seems to have noticed the same flaw in the Buffaloes, and has been harping about toughness all spring. After Colorado's scrimmage on Friday, Tucker raved about some red zone situations in which the offense rammed it in.   

"We were in some situations where we really tried to pound it in and I thought we were physical on both sides of the ball," Tucker told reporters. "The offense popped some runs, the defense made some stops in the running game. The physical nature in the trenches, we were able to see that in a scrimmage format."

It's tough to say how well this is going to work against other teams, but you can run the ball against Pac-12 defenses. This year, CU plays five Pac-12 teams that allowed at least four yards per carry in 2018 -- regrettably, the Buffs miss Oregon State, which allowed 6.9. 

If this is going to be CU's identity under Mel Tucker, as it sounds like it is, the Buffaloes have a big opportunity to throw a power run game behind Steven Montez and the rest of the offense.