Be on the lookout for my story on breakout tailback Brendan Bigelow, who had 160 rushing yards and two long touchdowns runs last Saturday in the Bears’ 35-28 loss at Ohio State.
He will get more carries Saturday at USC. How many more? Bigelow isn’t sure and the coaching staff won’t say.
But running backs coach Ron Gould told me Bigelow is beginning to become the complete player the Bears need.
“His focus and concentration have been there, and the attention to details on how we do things is really starting to come to fruition. I’m really starting to see it more in practice,” Gould said.
“We’ve had an opportunity to showcase his talent in practice. He’s working really hard, not just from a physical standpoint but from a mental standpoint, which is what the game is.”
Bigelow will share carries with seniors Isi Sofele and C.J. Anderson going forward, but his speed makes him a rare talent.
“The sky’s the limit,” Gould said. “He’s a young man who obvious has got some talent. One thing we talk about is you’ve got all that talent, you’ve got to put it to good use.
“By having a great work ethic, the sky is the limit for him. He’s conscientious, he wants to do well and I think he has a very bright future.”
Sofele, who rushed for 1,322 yards a year ago, understands Bigelow’s emergence could mean fewer carries for him.
“If he can do what he did against Ohio State, I’m fine with it,” Sofele said. “We’re all going get our carries — I’m not really too worried about that.”
Gould believes that Bigelow’s low-key approach allows his teammates to celebrate his success.
“He’s a great young man. He takes time to say hi to everyone. He’s very humble, unassuming. He has a smile on his face and he’s really a treat to be around,” Gould said. “That’s infectious and guys want to be around him because he’s so positive and he works really hard.
“He’s not arrogant. People see how he works. He cares about winning. It’s anything he can do to help the team win. Most kids aren’t like that. Most kids are, `Hey, how can I score a touchdown?’ With him, it’s `Coach, whatever I can do to help the team.’ He’s really embraced his role.”
Bigelow came off very much that way during a group interview session on Wednesday, saying that he couldn’t enjoy his individual success as much because the Bears lost.
“It’s not just about me,” he said.
Bigelow said he had no inkling he would be part of the attack at Columbus, but said the experience changed his outlook.
“It gave me a boost of confidence to really know I can run the ball,” he said.
“I wasn’t expecting to get that many carries. It’s not a lot but I made the most of what I got.”