I knew it! I knew it all along! Y’all lost faith. You guys looked at Wake Forrest running back Matt Colburn‘s sub-par start to the 2018 college football season and jumped off the bandwagon. But I stayed strong.
Alright, maybe I got a little worried, too.
Last season Colburn made the most of his carries by committee with nearly 1,000 yards rushing with a 5.4 yards-per-carry average and seven touchdowns. Going into 2018, I thought the team was going to finally make Colburn their go-to guy, give him 200+ carries this season and we were going to see a back who reminded me of the things Doug Martin did well at Boise State.
But, that didn’t exactly happen.
Colburn, still in a committee of backs, didn’t do much against the likes of Tulane and Townsend, his first two opponents. But, the third game, with his biggest carry load, he went over 100 rushing yards for the first time this season against Boston College. That game gave me hope that there was momentum on his side. Instead, in the following weeks, he received just 10, 8 and 12 carries for minimal yards. That had me thinking my outlook on him may not come to fruition after all.
But then this week against Louisville, Colburn threw on some Slim Shady and told people “Guess Who’s Back” in a big way with 243 yards on 20 carries and three touchdowns — certainly one of the best performances in all of college football that week.
Oh, and by the way, Louisville was where Colburn was suppose to go to school until they pulled his scholarship 48 hours before National Signing Day.
Here’s what sweet revenge looked like, and how it might look in the NFL.
First of all, look at how hard Colburn was running against Louisville. I mean, that dude was CHUGGING those legs as fast as he could. But that trait isn’t uncharacteristic for him or something that you may think was just there due to the added motivation. That’s Colburn’s style.
Colburn has a very compact frame, and due to that, his strides aren’t long, but they are powerful. Colburn’s measurements are about 5-foot-9, 205 pounds, and when Doug Martin showed up at the Combine, he was 5-foot-9, 220 pounds. Similar builds.
Colburn’s patience is also a good trait of his. Wake Forrest runs a lot of counters and pulls with their offensive line, and Colburn seems to have the patience, whether the run is inside the tackle or outside, to choose the correct lane.
Preference of running lane is also something similar to Martin coming out of Boise State. However, I do worry that Colburn isn’t as fast as Martin at his top speed. The day he put on against Louisville was impressive, but it’s Louisville. Their defense is not exactly the same caliber of athletes as you’ll see with guys on Sundays, at least not this year. Top speed is still important for the NFL.
Colburn often talks about playing with a chip on his shoulder, and runs like the one above are a visual representation of that chip.
One of the reason why undrafted rookie running back Phillip Lindsay is performing so well for the Denver Broncos this season is because of how determined he runs with the ball. Whether it’s through contact or to open space, Lindsay’s motor is running at full speed at all times. That’s the case with Colburn, too. You’ll have to give it your all to bring him down. That is always a trait that will translate.
I worry about just how athletic Colburn is, because, in the end, the NFL is a league of athletes. It’s about who’s bigger, faster and stronger. Colburn has the size and the style of a guy like Doug Martin, who had two seasons where he was almost the NFL rushing champ around his other seasons riddled with injury. Though I think Colburn is more durable than Martin, I wonder if he is as athletic — both are important.
That will be a big key into my final evaluation of Colburn. The style I like, but does he have the horses to run it like Martin did?