Among everything that’s befallen the Cal football this season, is there anything more surprising than this fact: Brendan Bigelow has not scored a touchdown through 10 games.
He’s run the ball 77 times, caught it 28 times and returned four kickoffs. That’s 109 touches without getting into the end zone.
Bigelow teased Cal fans — and the new coaching staff — with his two long touchdown runs at Ohio State last season, a game in which he carried the ball just four times, but gobbled up 160 yards.
He seemed sure to be — we all believed — a centerpiece of the new Bear Raid offense. At the very least, he figured to be an explosive component of that offense, sure to break a few long runs, score his share of touchdowns.
But things got so bad for the junior running back that he was moved to slot receiver at midseason in an attempt to find a way to take advantage of his great speed.
Perhaps everyone merely expected too much from Bigelow based on one performance for the ages.
Cal coach Sonny Dykes isn’t sure that’s the issue.
Bigelow underwent knee surgery after last season and missed all of spring ball with the coaching staff. Dykes believes he’s never caught up.
Now, having gotten practice reps again in the backfield all week, Bigelow gets another chance against Colorado on Saturday afternoon.
“Hopefully he’ll break out,” Dykes said.
Without Daniel Lasco (shoulder) available today, there will be opportunities for Khalfani Muhammad, Darren Ervin, Jeffrey Coprich and Bigelow.
“I think he put a lot of pressure on himself,” Dykes said. “He still has high expectations for himself. Externally, there’s high expectations for him, as well. I think he’s starting to get it all figured out and put together.”
But early this season, Bigelow struggled. After averaging 9.8 yards per carry last fall, that number is just 3.9 this season.
“Not going through spring hurt him, learning-wise. And I think it took a while for him to get confidence in his knee, his health,” Dykes said. “I don’t think the position thing’s been that big of a deal in some ways, just getting healthy.
“That’s how the spring could have made a big impact on him. `Hey, I’m getting healthy. I’m ready to play now.’ He spent part of this year getting comfortable.”
Bigelow got two carries last week against USC and gained 17 yards. Perhaps a sign of better things?
“I think he’s feeling much more confident, playing faster. Had a good week of practice. I think he’s feeling better than he has.”
Dykes said Bigelow will play both receiver and running back today, but he hopes Bigelow can return to carrying the ball on a regular basis next season and fulfill the expectations everyone has for him.
“I think he’ll be a different player next fall,” Dykes said.