BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Darrell Scott came in with all the hype, a highly touted tailback who spurned Texas in favor of Colorado.
So far, the coveted Buffaloes freshman hasn’t lived up to the hoopla because of a bum ankle and the emergence of another freshman phenom, Rodney Stewart.
Finally, Scott gets more of an opportunity to flaunt his abilities Saturday as Colorado (4-5, 1-4 Big 12) hosts Iowa State (2-7, 0-5).
With Stewart out for the season after fracturing his fibula on a “horse-collar” tackle last weekend against Texas A&M;, Scott’s in line to make the first start of his career.
He’s got ambitious intentions, saying his plans include “breaking out” this weekend.
“We gotta keep this running game going,” he said.
Scott was considered the nation’s top prep running back when he picked Colorado over the Longhorns. He rushed for 2,433 yards and 33 touchdowns as a senior at St. Bonaventure in Ventura, Calif.
His signing was considered a coup for Colorado.
But an irksome ankle has limited Scott’s production. He’s carried the ball just 66 times for 257 yards and one touchdown this season.
Stewart has also stood in his way.
The tailback nicknamed “Speedy” was having quite a freshman campaign before fracturing his leg after being dragged down by Aggies linebacker Von Miller.
The diminutive Stewart had three 100-yard games, tying Lamont Warren’s school record for a freshman. He finished with 622 yards.
“Speedy is a guy who can make guys miss in a phone booth,” Colorado running backs coach Darian Hagan said.
Scott prefers powering through players, but can accelerate through the hole as well. Scott gave a preview of his prowess against Texas A&M;, leapfrogging an Aggies defender on a 42-yard run, the Buffaloes’ longest play from scrimmage this season.
“I expect him to have a big game. I always expect that,” Hagan said of Scott. “I think that my expectation levels are higher than his sometimes. He’s coming along and he’s getting better.”
Iowa State coach Gene Chizik certainly expects a steady dose of Scott, along with Demetrius Sumler.
“When they’re hot and clicking, they can move the football with anybody,” Chizik said.
The Cyclones have stumbled onto difficult times, losing seven straight games. Chizik doesn’t think his team has fallen into a funk as much as run into good Big 12 competition.
“We’re caught in the middle of what’s a storm, based on the fact this league is so good,” Chizik said. “At the end of the day, it’s just a tough league. We’re not as good as some of these teams in the league right now. We’ve got keep working and continue to show some progress and have some small victories in areas.”
Like their kickoff return game. Leonard Johnson set an NCAA record with 319 return yards in a 59-17 loss to Oklahoma State last weekend.
“Leonard’s been good up to this point, Saturday he was exceptional,” Chizik said.
Colorado coach Dan Hawkins has been exploring a multitude of options to ignite an offense that ranks last in the league.
The Buffaloes recently went with a platoon system at quarterback, rotating between Cody Hawkins and Tyler Hansen. Hawkins has the arm and experience, Hansen the quickness.
The rotation is still a work in progress, the kinks far from worked out.
“Nobody ever likes the two-quarterback thing, including me,” Dan Hawkins said. “You roll with it the best you can.”
That’s Scott’s approach to his balky ankle. He’s trying to shrug off the injury, saying he’s put it out of his mind.
Still, it’s a nuisance.
“I’ve never been injured like this,” he said. “It’s a learning experience.”
Same with being beaten out for the starting tailback spot. He’s not used to that, either, but hasn’t pouted or complained.
“I’m having fun. I’m learning a lot this year,” Scott said. “Everything doesn’t go your way, but you can benefit from it.”
Hagan has certainly seen a growth in Scott.
“He’s finally understanding what we’re trying to accomplish in the running game,” Hagan said. “He’s been slowly coming on and I think by having Speedy here and Speedy taking off, it’s allowed him to really take a back seat and learn.”
Now, it’s his chance to live up to the hype.
Not that he has anything to prove to Dan Hawkins. Scott has already done that with his support of Stewart, never displaying any animosity.
“You want everybody to come in and be Walter Payton — they’re 18 years old,” Dan Hawkins said. “They go through a lot of things. I think he’s done an awesome job of managing the expectations.”