Texas running back Joe Bergeron’s 191-yard, three-touchdown performance certainly solidified his place in the Longhorns’ offensive rotation, as evidenced by him being named a co-starter at tailback alongside Fozzy Whittaker for the Missouri game this Saturday.
It’s not often that backup running backs get to showcase their talent — even when they do, the game is usually already decided. But with Malcolm Brown sidelined for the Texas Tech game with turf toe, Bergeron got an opportunity, put the Texas offense on his back and turned in a game for the ages. How does that performance stack up against past second-string running backs in college football? Let’s take a look at — what else? — the stats.
Former TCU and current New York Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson split time with Basil Mitchell in the ’97 and ’98 seasons posting respectable numbers. When Tomlinson got his chance to start a game in 1999, he rushed for a single-game NCAA record 406 yards versus UTEP. Tomlinson carried the ball 43 times and registered six touchdowns in his record-breaking performance.
In 2001, Auburn running back Carnell “Cadillac” Williams entered the season as the No. 3 option on the depth chart. Similar to Bergeron, Williams got a chance to start the eighth game of the season against Arkansas. Williams carried the ball 19 times for 177 yards and one touchdown. Cadillac went on to becoming one of the most prolific running backs in Auburn history, rushing for 3,831 yards and 45 touchdowns.
In 2005, Arkansas running back Darren McFadden entered his freshman season third on the roster behind senior De’Arrius Howard and sophomore Peyton Hillis. After McFadden carried the ball 31 times for 190 yards versus Georgia, he never relinquished the starting role at Arkansas. McFadden finished his career with 4,590 yards, second-most in SEC conference history (Hershel Walker, 5,259 yards).
Also in 2005, Texas running back Jamaal Charles got his first career start in the Longhorns third game versus Rice. Charles rushed for 189 yards and three touchdowns in Texas’ 51-10 victory. Charles ended his career as the fourth-leading rusher in school history with 3,328 yards.
And recently, in 2009, Virginia Tech’s Ryan Williams took over for an injured Darren Evans and posted sensational numbers: 1,655 yards and 21 touchdowns.
Bergeron’s performance against the Red Raiders on Saturday is similar to many great college running backs first performances. With Malcolm Brown still hobbling, Bergeron has a great opportunity to solidify himself as the go-to-guy the rest of the season.
Printed on Wednesday, November 9, 2011 as: Bergeron's day stacks up with greats