Now that Cougar fans have had a few days to come to terms with the loss of Jamaal Williams for the 2015 season, it’s time to take a step back and evaluate what the options are for replacing him.
Just as any good team has a contingency plan for player loss, the Cougars have a collection of second-string running backs who can step up and carry BYU this season. They just need to follow Justin Forsett’s example.
Going into last season, the Baltimore Ravens lost their franchise running back to an indefinite suspension. Instead of packing it in, the team turned to Justin Forsett, a journeyman who was on his fifth team in 7 years.
Forsett had shown signs early in his career that he could be a featured back, but in the previous 3 seasons, he had only rushed for 550 yards.
So what did Forsett do? He rushed for nearly 1,300 yards (good for fifth in the league), and helped lead the Ravens to what seemed like an improbable playoff berth at the beginning of the season and a near upset of the eventual Super Bowl champs in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Why do I bring all this up? Because on the surface BYU’s running back situation looks bleak with the top three returners combining for 1,227 yards or just under the 1,233 yards Williams rushed for as a sophomore. But just like Forsett proved last year, sometimes you just need an opportunity to prove your worth.
Below is a breakdown of the top candidates to replace Williams and what they bring to the table.
Algernon Brown brings toughness and brutality reminiscent of former Cougar bruisers Fui Vakapuna and Paul Lasike. He’s not going to blow you away with his speed and quickness, but will try and win the war of attrition down in the trenches. His most complete game of the season came against Texas where he combined for 79 yards rushing and receiving. Against UCF and Memphis he rushed for 79 and 80 yards respectively.
Of all the running backs Bronco Mendenhall has at his disposal, Adam Hine is the one who seemingly has the combination of speed and power of Williams. He’s shown flashes of that speed as an electric kick returner, but hasn’t been able to get that electricity to translate into the running game. It’s possible all Hine needs is more reps at running back to become more consistent. If he can put it all together this year, Cougar fans could be into a treat.
Nate Carter had his coming out party last year against Nevada where he used is speed and elusiveness to gain 87 yards on just seven carries for a whopping 12.4 yards average in a disappointing loss to the Wolfpack. Carter is still somewhat of an unknown as a bulk of his production came against the softer part of BYU’s schedule, but he should prove to be a nice change of pace back when paired with Hine or Brown.