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Cal Football: Running back health a big concern

CGB's 4th off-season question: Can the Bear Raid running backs continue to produce meaningfully for the whole season or will the injury bug strike?


LeonPowe: yes. No. maybe. Injuries are so difficult to predict. Brendan Bigelow has had repeated injuries. But is he injury prone? This is a difficult question to answer.

Nam Le: I mean, Bigelow has had three knee injuries in like, what? four? five years? At some point, that stops becoming a string of accidents, and an actual trend...

LeonPowe: Unlike Twist's clothing choices.

Berkelium97: Meanwhile Daniel Lasco is coming off shoulder surgery and hasn't done any football activities since last season. The LA Tech offense averaged 43 rushes per game last season--can our stable of backs handle that many rushes per game? If not, we're going to have to rely more heavily on an extremely green QB. The Bulldogs averaged 44 passes per game last season. Unless we want Klinedergoff throwing almost 50 times per game (hint: we don't), we're going to need to find someone to carry the rock.

This is an extremely demanding offense--players are going to be involved in many, many plays. Injury-prone players may not survive the season.

Nam Le: Well, one of the plusses here is that there's no way they ask Bigelow (or Lasco) to tote the rock 20 times each. There's probably going to be a good distribution among all the guys, Muhammad and occasional QB run included, just to try to keep them all healthy. I have a feeling that the real answer to this question is no one really knows, though. Accidents happen. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed, and my lucky rabbit's foot close by.

Vlad Belo: I don't think we can possibly predict at this point how healthy our RB group will be. Bigelow's health is a question mark as it is and he has yet to experience the load as the #1 RB. As for Lasco, he hasn't yet experienced the load of a # 2 guy, so we don't really know what's in store for him either on the injury front.

Can we stay healthy enough to play at a high level? I guess the best I can say is, "I hope so." How high a level this group performs at might depend upon how Darren Ervin and freshman Khalfani Muhammad emerge.

Scott Chong: I think the real question here is what will Dykes/Franklin do if Bigs/Lasco can't stay healthy? Do they lean on unproven youngsters Ervin/Coprich/Muhammad or perhaps Joel Willis? Or, do they go full pirate-mode and just air it out if the running game proves to be ineffective?

Let's hope we don't have to find out.

Avinash Kunnath: Yeah based on spring practice they want to use Joel a lot like they use De'Anthony at Oregon: Someone who can play in the backfield but also line up as a speed option at WR.

Charley Lu: Didn't Bigs mention that Willis is the 2nd fastest guy on the team? That's gonna be lotsa speed with Khalfani joining in the Fall.

Leland Wong: I think (or maybe hope) Franklin will find a way to adapt the offense if we start to wear thin at RB. Unfortunately, with inexperience at quarterback and the O-line, I don't think an exclusive-passing offense is a viable option. We have some great potential at WR, so maybe the coaches will have to split carries between the young RBs while running lots and lots of end-arounds. There was a #10 at the spring game who was pretty impressive. Is that kid redshirting or something?

Norcalnick: A long term trend in the NFL has been the relative fungibility of running backs--with rare exceptions (Adrian Peterson . . . and that's it?) nearly every NFL back can get you the yards the offensive line creates and not much more beyond that.

If that's the case in college, then running back would be the position that can most handle injuries. But I'm not completely sure that's the case for college ball. Defenses aren't as disciplined, tacklers aren't nearly as sure, angles aren't as precise . . . anybody who watched Jahvid Best or Marshawn Lynch saw what a truly gifted running back could do to college defenders.

So if Bigelow isn't healthy, I'm sure we can find a running back capable of taking what the offensive line creates. But the addition of a player who can turn an 8 yard gain into a 50 yard touchdown would make a big, big difference. Hopefully Biggie isn't the only back on the roster capable of breaking big runs.


How concerned are you with the health and durability of our running backs? Tell us in the comments below!