If Zach Bauman has an average performance today, he’ll join an exclusive club.
Leading the Big Sky Conference with 126.3 rushing yards per game this season, the Northern Arizona senior running back needs just 116 to to become the ninth player in FCS history to rush for 1,000 yards in four seasons.
Others include New Hampshire’s Jerry Azumah and Georgia Southern’s Adrian Peterson, who each went on to have lengthy NFL careers with the Chicago Bears.
Cal Poly head coach Tim Walsh called Bauman one of the best to ever play in the Big Sky.
“He has great vision and great balance,,” Walsh said, “and the one thing that separates him from a lot of other guys is his feet. All running backs are fast. He’s fast, but he has great feet and great change of direction and great vision. And when you do all those things, really great things can happen.”
As Bauman battled injuries late last season, Cal Poly was able to limit him to just 14 carries for 44 yards, 21 of which came on a single rushing attempt.
The Lumberjacks’ strength also plays into the strength of the Cal Poly defense — it’s run-stopping. The Mustangs allowed just 73 rushing yards at Montana last week and play with an experienced front seven.
“If we play with the intensity and the desire we played with against the run against Montana and bring that same energy, then we’ll have an opportunity,” Walsh said, “but you don’t shut him down; you slow him down. If we can just slow him down, that’s going to give us an opportunity to win the game.”