The Raiders run game is a three-pronged attack utilizing three very different but highly talented runners. It could be better described as “the sum of great parts.”
Part I, The hard running sixth year veteran Justin Fargas, who ran for a career high 1,009 yards last year, will be the starter.
Part II, Providing the “shock and awe” will be 2008 top pick Darren McFadden. He will be a difference maker on the Raiders offense.
Part III, Filling the role of the team’s secret weapon and short yardage sledgehammer will be Michael Bush No. 29 on your program.
Describing the running game in Oakland some people will use the phrase “Thunder and Lightning.” That analogy holds true considering Darren McFadden as the lightning and Michael Bush as the thunder.
What puts the thunder in a thunderstorm? Extremely hot lightning bolts, with temperatures ranging from 30,000 to 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
I’m speaking of lightning bolts that reside several miles north of San Diego.
The guy “chomping at the bit” will be Michael Bush.
He hasn’t played a competitive game since Sept. 6, 2006, even though it is a preseason game he can’t wait to put on the pads and show everyone that he’s back.
Some may even ask the question, who is Michael Bush?
He is a special athlete who runs with controlled fury measuring 6’1”, 245 lbs. He was on his way to stardom and becoming a top 10 player in the 2007 NFL draft. He was leading his Louisville team against Kentucky in a rivalry game.
His 2006 season had begun successfully, on his first carry of the year he ran for a 48-yard touchdown. His stat line read 17 carries 128 yards and three touchdowns.
Things were going great, until the opening minutes of the third quarter when he was tackled on a routine rushing play by Kentucky linebacker Wesley Woodyard, and suffered a broken right tibia.
It caused him to miss the remainder of the 2006 season.
The injury required the insertion of a steel rod and a second operation to facilitate the healing process.
In high school he excelled at quarterback, corner back, defensive end, linebacker, safety, wide receiver and running back. As a junior he was voted All-State at all seven positions.
As a senior Bush led the Male High Bulldogs to the state championship game in Kentucky’s highest class.
In the showdown with future Louisville teammate Brian Brohm and his Trinity Shamrocks, Bush threw for 468 yards and six TD’s and ran for 116 yards and another TD in a 59-56 loss.
In 2003, after a successful high school career, he was highly recruited and chose the University of Louisville. He had modest success while sharing the carries with the likes of Eric Shelton and Lionel Gates.
· 2003, 13 games, 81 atts, 503 yards, six TD’s, 6.2 ypc avg.
· 2004, 12 games, 132 atts, 734 yards, seven TD’s, 5.6 ypc avg.
· 2005, 10 games, 205 atts, 1,143 yards, 23 TD’s, 5.6 ypc avg.
· 2006, 1 game, 17 atts, 128 yards, 3 TD’s, 7.5 ypc avg.
2005 was his breakout season; he led the NCAA DIV 1A in scoring with 23 touchdowns. His longest run that year was for 73 yards. He was considered to be a preseason candidate to win the 2006 Heisman.
The injury changed his draft status dramatically; He was selected by the Raiders with the first pick of the fourth round. Bush appeared ready to compete toward the end of 2007 but never made it onto the active roster.
The 2008 season can be considered a man and his moment. Michael Bush wants to make it his coming out party, as well as memorable.
He is healthy; he has made it all the way back from the injury. He has looked good in training camp.
He is a very versatile player who can fill multiple roles on the team but the combination of FB Oren O’Neal and RB Michael Bush in short yardage will be fun to watch.
The Raiders coaching staff has been working with Bush on running hard and low which is what it take to be successful on short yardage runs.
It is yet to be seen if he can be as successful in short yardage as Zack Crockett was when ‘14 blast’ was called.
He isn’t strictly a power guy, he’s an excellent runner that can make defenders miss or simply run them over. He has the type of talent to cause you to keep track of another statistic with Bush; how many defenders he has trucked.
He is an excellent receiver out of the backfield, excellent blocker with the skill to eliminate blitzing linebackers and defensive backs.
The Oakland Raiders are a running football team.
Michael Bush will be one of the Raiders runners to keep an eye on. He will be picking up huge chunks of yardage and punishing defenders for the silver and black in a neighborhood near you in 2008.
In case you haven't seen him play below is the surprise you're in for.
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Photo Credit: Eric Risberg Associated Press