WHAT WENT RIGHT: Despite a season-ending injury to Jahvid Best, the Bears still got a combined 1,819 yards and 22 touchdowns from their top two tailbacks. Best rushed for 867 yards and 12 scores before going down in the ninth game against Oregon State. He had five 100-yard games and added another 213 yards and four touchdowns receiving. Even before replacing Best as the starter, Shane Vereen was having a productive season as a backup. He totalled 386 yards and six touchdowns in the backup role (5.1 yards per carry) and then rushed for at least 92 yards in each of his starts, including three 100-yard games and six more touchdowns. He added 244 yards and two scores as a receiver. Brian Holley had a solid season at fullback.
WHAT WENT WRONG: There were obviously some games where the Bears struggled to run the ball, most notably against Oregon, USC, Arizona State and Oregon State. While there were other factors that contributed to the ineffectiveness — poor offensive line play, lack of a passing game to balance out the offense — the running backs need to take at least some of the blame for perhaps not hitting the hole hard enough from time to time.
IN SUMMATION: This was the best position on the field for the Bears this season. The production was there most of the time, and when it wasn’t, much of the time it was due to factors out of their control.
MOVING FORWARD: Obviously, losing Jahvid Best to the NFL is a big hit. And while the Bears don’t have anybody left on the roster quite that good, they still have a lot left that is still pretty darn good. Vereen has proven he can carry the load as an every-down back and be productive while doing so. He should have a big year in 2010, if healthy. Cal also has many options to back him up, whether it be Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson, who 211 yards on 31 carries, Isi Sofele, the fastest of the running backs, or Dasarte Yarnway, who showed promise in training camp last season as a freshman before suffering a season-ending toe injury. The Bears have the depth and talent to once again make running back the strongest position on the field.