Three is better than two which is certainly better than one but that is what TCU is left with at running back following the announcement on Wednesday that junior Waymon James will miss the remainder of the season after injuring his knee in the against Kansas.
The injury occurred in the fourth quarter on a draw play with TCU facing a third and 20. James picked up 17 yards on the run but injured the knee when he tried to cut to the outside but stumbled and went to the turf. TCU coach Gary Patterson said earlier in the week that James would be a game time decision for Saturday's game against Virginia but that obviously has changed with today's news.
The Horned Frogs were set to enter the season with three running backs returning who all rushed for more than 700 yards in 2011. That number decreased by one after Ed Wesley left the program for family reasons this spring.
That left James and senior Matthew Tucker to handle the bulk of the carries this fall. With James out, the job now falls to Tucker, senior Aundre Dean, and freshman B.J. Catalon who had 15 carries in TCU's opener against Grambling State picking up 63 yards.
James injury is certainly tough news for a team that faces a much tougher schedule this year in the Big 12. "A year ago I had three tailbacks that had a chance to be draft choices and now you have a possibility to be down to one of them," Patterson said on Tuesday. "In my profession you can't worry about the guy that goes down. It's got to be about the next guy needs to step up. Matthew had the best spring and summer of all of them. He's been a great running back for us for a while."
So long as Tucker stays healthy, TCU's rushing attack will still be in good shape. But what was once considered the strength of the team definitely looks less formidable than it once did. They'll now need to rely much more heavily on Catalon, a true freshman from Houston, Texas. Catalon was a three-star ranked prospect by Rivals after rushing for over 2,200 yards and scoring 32 touchdowns during his senior season.
Dean, now a senior, has rushed the ball 63 times for TCU over the past two seasons after transferring to TCU from UCLA following his freshman season in 2008.
You can see the run in which James injured his knee below.