Rushing for 1,000 yards isn’t the benchmark it used to be. Some backs have been known to knock off a quarter of that in a single game.
Yet while it’s less of a milestone, it’s still a decent indicator for what sort of a season a running back had. Last year the Pac-12 had six backs break 1,000 yards.
Here are last year’s members of the 1K club:
Christian McCaffrey, Stanford, 2,019 yards
Royce Freeman, Oregon, 1,836 yards
Paul Perkins, UCLA, 1,343 yards
Myles Gaskin, Washington, 1,302 yards
Devontae Booker, Utah, 1,261 yards
Demario Richard, Arizona State, 1,050
Of those six, four are back -- McCaffrey, Freeman, Gaskin and Richard.
Like our position group reviews, we’ll assign each team as being in “Great shape,” “Good shape,” or “We’ll see” when it comes to having a 1,000-yard rusher in 2016. Tuesday we’ll look at 1,000-yard receivers and Wednesday we’ll look at 3,000-yard passers.
We’re also working under the assumption all players mentioned stay healthy.
Oregon: Give to Freeman. Rinse, repeat. He might not do as many things as McCaffrey. But what he does do -- which is being a pure running back -- he does extremely well. The first half of the season features some very good and some very bad rush defenses. But 1,000 yards should come sooner than later.
Stanford: Whoever wins the quarterback job, his best friend is going to be McCaffrey. The question isn’t whether McCaffrey gets 1,000 yards. It’s whether he can break 2K again. With a rebuilt offensive line, it might be difficult to replicate last year’s record-setting numbers. But there’s a good chance he’ll have 1,000 yards before Halloween.
USC: The only thing that could keep Ronald Jones II from hitting 1,000 yards is Justin Davis. The only thing that could keep Davis from hitting 1,000 yards is Jones. Both were close last year -- Jones with a team-high 987 yards and Davis with 902. But with that offensive line, there is a great chance one -- or both -- join the 1K club.
Washington: Could Gaskin experience a sophomore slump? It’s possible. But a lot of times that happens with turnover on the offensive line or at quarterback. Washington’s offense -- youthful but still experienced -- is only going to get better. Keep in mind he totaled 554 yards in his final four games. And most of September sets up for him to get a good jump on another 1,000-yard season.
Arizona: As a true freshman, Nick Wilson had a monster season with 1,375 yards -- including 17 total touchdowns. His health likely determines Arizona’s shot at a 1,000-yard rusher. Even though he was injured as a sophomore, he still had 725 yards. Last year was the first time in the Rich Rodriguez era that Arizona didn’t have a 1K rusher. If Wilson returns to form, that should be a one-year anomaly.
Arizona State: Yes, Richard got to 1,000 yards last year. But it wasn’t until the final game of the regular season -- and now he’s got a rebuilt offensive line, a new quarterback and a new offensive coordinator, and Kalen Ballage is still going to pilfer carries (he rushed for 653 yards last year). We’re not ready to say ASU has a great shot. But we feel comfortable with a good shot.
UCLA: Soso Jamabo totaled 403 yards on just 66 carries for an average of 6.1 per. If he gets 200 carries as the main replacement for Perkins, he’ll clear 1,000 yards with room to spare. Defenses aren’t likely to stack the box against Josh Rosen, and the Bruins have had a 200-carry back in three of Jim Mora’s four years. Jamabo has a really good shot.
Utah: We’re curious to see what Joe Williams can do over a full season with a talented offensive line in front of him. Of his 477 yards last year, 399 of them came in the final three games. Over 12 games, that’s easily 1K production. Plus, until we see how the quarterback and receiver spots shake out, the run game is likely to be the centerpiece of the offense.
The Bear Raid uses the run more to set up the pass and keep defenders honest. But it’s not impossible to have a 1,000-yard rusher. In 2014, Daniel Lasco rushed for 1,115 yards. And the offensive line is solid. More likely, however, there are going to be too many cooks in the kitchen. Khalfani Muhammad, Vic Enwere and Tre Watson all rushed for at least 500 yards last year. They’ll combine for well over 1,000 yards, but with the pie being divided, it’ll be tough for one to break away.
Colorado: The Buffs haven’t had a 1,000-yard rusher yet in the Mike MacIntyre era. Actually, they didn’t have one in the Jon Embree era either. The last was Rodney Stewart in 2010 (1,318). Phillip Lindsay returns as the team’s leading rusher from last season (653). There are a lot of issues to work out on offense. Finding a ground game is just one of them.
Much of the Beavers' early schedule is probably going to be extended tryouts to thin a crowded backfield. Head coach Gary Andersen recently told ESPN.com no one has emerged as a go-to back. Converted tight end Ryan Nall rushed for 455 yards last year. But with a lot of guys vying for carries, a wait-and-see approach seems prudent.
Wazzu actually has a really, really talented stable. Last year Gerard Wicks, Jamal Morrow and Keith Harrington combined for 1,193 yards. But given the amount of time they throw -- and the way carries will be divided (keep in mind rising redshirt freshman James Williams is going to get his share) it’s unlikely one of them emerges as a 1,000-yard rusher.