The University of Arkansas will probably never field a better backfield than it did in 2007. Felix Jones is now the starting running back for the Cowboys. You also have the fullback-turned-rusher in Peyton Hillis, now a household name in Cleveland. Then there is Darren McFadden, who pretty much ran around the Jets’ vaunted defense for 171 yards last Sunday.
Of the Razorback trio — too perfect a mascot name given the topic — McFadden entered the 2008 draft with the most fanfare, having placed second in the Heisman vote. Yet, injuries and perhaps Al Davis’ maniacal game of coaching carousel over McFadden’s first few years in the league, had his Arkansas running mates being more productive. They were also getting more attention. Granted, none of the three have yet to really make a lasting mark yet, but for once, the hype around McFadden seems to be coming to fruition.
After a miserable 2009 campaign, McFadden bounced back last year with 1,157 yards and a very impressive 5.2 YPC. His track record of injuries doesn’t call for much hope that he will be available for all 16 games. McFadden missed at least three games in each season so far. But if he stays on the field, he should find himself surpassing his 2010 numbers easily. The tailback is already a third of the way there.
For Raiders fans and fantasy owners alike, a lot will be said about what to expect out of McFadden if he shows the same dominance against the Patriots this Sunday. Yes, New England’s defense has been a whipping boy so far, but last time I checked, Oakland and New England games were supposed to be a laugher.
If Oakland does win, it will almost certainly be thanks to McFadden’s surge. Maybe the walk is finally catching up to the talk.