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Buffaloes running back rotation sorting out in fall camps

Alex Fontenot will lead the way

Stanford v Colorado Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

We know very little of what Karl Dorrell’s offense will look like, but we do know it will be a run-heavy attack. The Buffaloes will be introducing a first-time starting quarterback — any of Brendon Lewis, Tyler Lytle or Sam Noyer — but they have an experienced offensive line and a number of talented running backs at the ready.

In Colorado’s Tuesday press conference, Dorrell shed light into what the running back rotation will look like.

We previously thought that Alex Fontenot would be the leading rushing, but the Buffs would implement a running-back-by-committee. Dorrell signals the opposite, that the team will lean on Fontenot so long as he’s their best option.

It makes a lot of sense, considering how impressive Fontenot was in his sophomore season, totaling 874 yards on 4.7 yards per carry. He’s a patient runner who has a terrific feel for finding space and eluding tacklers. His best attribute might be those mini-moves that turn a big hit into arm-tackles, that he can either break or fall forward for more couple yards. He might not have big-play capability, but his efficient running style will be the center of this offense. The depth behind Fontenot is more surprising than him being the surefire #1 option.

Jaren Mangham was very good in a power-back role last season, rushing for 441 yards and 3 scores as a true freshman. It looks it will be more of the same, with Dorrell giving him more carries if he’s particularly effective that day. He figures to be the next man up if anything sidelines Fontenot.

Then there’s Jarek Broussard, the 5’9, 185-lbs. sophomore who missed last season with a knee injury. He figured to be more a depth piece, or change-of-pace specialist, who didn’t see much action. But by all reports he’s looked fantastic in fall camps, better than anyone expected. Not that Colorado needs more depth at this position, but it would be great if Broussard really has made a leap heading into this season.

Joe Davis spent most of his freshman season on special teams, but figures to earn some touches as well. He’s a balanced back, not overly big, not overly fast. He’s a comfortable receiver, which is probably where he finds playing time in 2020, as he should compete with Broussard for third down snaps.

The real surprise of this running back news is not the names mentioned above, but the name missing from it all. That would be Ashaad Clayton, the highly touted true freshman who figured to compete for the bulk of carries. The Buffs have been hush about Clayton’s exact injury — Dorrell said he was “a little bit knicked up” — but that is the reason he hasn’t played in fall camps so far. It’s too early to tell if Clayton will be sidelined for long, or if he will be ready for the start of the season, but the Buffs should be solid in the running back room regardless.