Player to watch: Rodney Stewart

RodneyStewart

In the Big 12, few running backs are more dependable than Rodney Stewart. The Colorado junior rusher currently ranks third in the conference with 1,035 yards on the ground and eight touchdowns.

He is a consistent threat to move the ball on the Buffaloes’ offense, and is capable of handling a heavy workload. Last week against Iowa State, he ran for 123 yards on — get this — 36 carries.

Earlier this season, Daniel Thomas raised a few eye brows by stating that he would be happy to run the ball 30 times per game. Though I’ve never had the pleasure of interviewing Stewart face to face, I’m guessing he would have no problem issuing a similar statement today.

Stewart’s strong will and running ability will pose challenges to Kansas State’s rush defense, which allows an average of 220 yards per game and ranks 119th out of 120 Division I teams nationally.

At 5-foot-6, he can be difficult to follow behind a big offensive line. And his speed is tough to keep up with.

In order to beat the Buffs on Saturday in Boulder, K-State will need to effectively defend the run and force Cody Hawkins to throw the ball in uncomfortable situations.

It won’t be easy. When Stewart gets going, he is hard to stop. Already this season he has rushed for 175 yards against Kansas, 149 yards against Georgia, 125 yards against Baylor and 106 yards against Hawaii.

Texas football coach Mack Brown once compared him to former K-State standout Darren Sproles.

“Pound for pound, he’s as good as anybody,” Brown said. “He’s hard to tackle, really strong and has good vision.”

Stewart is an experienced runner who has contributed at Colorado since his freshman year, when he led the team with 622 rushing yards before suffering a broken fibula.

It was a disappointing blow to him and Colorado fans, but Stewart came back as a sophomore to rush for 804 yards and nine touchdowns. He is also now a threat to catch the ball, and has 222 yards receiving.

This season, it seems like he is finally starting to hit his stride.