On 38 rushing attempts against Arizona State and Stanford the previous two weeks, Colorado junior tailback Phillip Lindsay gained 350 yards and scored three touchdowns. That's an average of 9.2 yards per carry.
And Lindsay was running the ball well before that. For the season, he leads the conference in total rushing yards with 745, and Lindsay ranks just behind fellow Colorado native Kalen Ballage for the lead in the Pac-12 in rushing touchdowns.
At his current pace, Lindsay would finish the regular season with 1,118 rushing yards. The Buffs haven't had a 1,000 yard rusher since 2010.
“He is running with reckless abandon,” Buffs head coach Mike MacIntyre said when asked about Lindsay's improvement. “He has gotten a little bit faster because he has gotten stronger and more powerful and I think you see that little bit of extra gear there. And then he is stronger and bigger so he is running through some of those arm tackles that used to trip him up a little bit.”
Certainly the improved play of Colorado's offensive line this season and Lindsay's improved patience as a runner has also helped him take his game to another level. And Lindsay went out of his way to give credit to his new position coach.
“[Running backs] coach [Darian] Hagan has been a bit part of it. He has let us open up and be ourselves and be able to play with some creativity,” Lindsay said. “He actually tells us moves to do. He says, 'You should have hit him with this move.' We do a lot of drills out here in practice that end up working out in a game.
“And just being able to go to Coach Hagan, having another father figure, makes a big difference. It is a big deal. You understand that you are going to mess up sometimes but Coach Hagan still loves you. It is fun. It has been a fun year.”
Lindsay's dependability as a pass protector and pass catcher should not be overlooked, either. He ranks fourth on the team in receptions and his block in the backfield last Saturday helped Sefo Liufau deliver a strike to Shay Fields in the end zone, for what proved to be the Buffs' only touchdown in the win.
“That is No. 1 on my list. I love it. I hope everybody sees my passion for it,” Lindsay said when asked about his contributions as a blocker. “Running the ball 100 times, that is cute. Catching the ball, scoring touchdowns, that is cute. But when it is time to go out there and it is time for you to put your body on the line to protect one of your brothers, and you go out there and you execute... that is the best feeling in the world.
“If you are a bad dude... if you think you are a mean linebacker, if you think you are a mean defensive lineman, then you better show me because I am coming to play. Just talking about blocking gets me going. If I get that first block in and I stick it, I hit you, and you feel me, now you understand I ain't playing around. You understand, he is here to play.”
Lindsay has often talked about how “you have to be a dog” to be successful as a football player, and he admitted at times the previous two seasons the Buffs were lacking in that regard. Well, this fall, Lindsay has found a large dog pack to run with.
“When it comes to being a dog, it is just bringing that tenacity. It is having that never die, don't quit attitude,” he explained. “I feel like one of the main reasons we've been able to win is because we're overpowering other teams. We are being mean, gritty. Me, personally, I am mean. I don't care who I am playing against.
“I don't care if you are the leading tackler in the conference. When it comes down to it, you have to show me you are the baddest dude out there because that's what I am going to show you. Yeah, I might be 5-foot-8, 190-pounds, or whatever you want to list me at, but I am going to play like I am 6-foot-10, 315-pounds. And that is how our team plays now.”