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Bolts' Mathews tough enough to tough it out

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Aug 12, 2010.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006

    Wednesday, August 11, 2010 at 10:22 p.m.

    However long the ledger of ailments and missed games reads in a college career that never featured a complete season, those who were there declare the end of Ryan Mathews’ trouble with injuries to have come last Halloween.

    At the end of the third quarter, while speeding toward the end zone on what would be a 25-yard gain, Mathews was hit from the side by a Utah State defender at the 2-yard line and had to leave the game.

    While play continued, with his team trailing, Mathews sat on the bench feeling only the pain in his ribs, struggling to breathe.

    Fresno State running backs coach Joe Wade came down from the coaches’ box before the Bulldogs’ next series and told Mathews, “You need to carry us.”

    Mathews went back in the game, running for 96 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter to ice Fresno State’s victory and signal a turning of a corner.

    “At that point,” Wade said, “I knew he was tough enough.”

    The 12th overall pick in April’s draft, Mathews will get his first NFL carries in Saturday’s preseason opener when the Chargers host the Chicago Bears . Head coach Norv Turner said he hopes to give Mathews “a good dose” of carries.

    Had Mathews not, as he put it, “turned the corner” in early 2009, he might not even be here.

    When Wade joined the Fresno State coaching staff as running backs coach the previous February, the Bulldogs’ offense had been running back by committee.

    Wade had heard about Mathews, who was going into his junior season. Knew he was a good player, had led the team in rushing the previous year but also missed almost half the season.

    Wade told the three players vying for playing time he preferred to go with one featured back.

    “That became Ryan real fast,” Wade said. “It became real obvious. He’s talented. Once he built his body, got stronger and faster …”

    Mathews gained 10 pounds by changing his diet and approach in the weight room. That worked in sync with developing a different mentality.

    “Working harder, making my body harder to try to play through those things,” Mathews explained. “… More than getting bigger, you learn that there is a difference between being injured and hurt. You can play through being hurt.”

    Mathews missed two games his freshman season, the first because of an ankle injury and then a collarbone injury. He missed five games his sophomore season after having his knee stepped on, which led to some knee damage.

    His junior season did include one missed game, after a concussion. Bulldogs head coach Pat Hill said Mathews cried when told he couldn’t go back in the game in which he suffered the concussion, and Mathews was held out by the medical staff the following week despite declaring himself ready.

    “Five years ago, he would have played,” Hill said, referring to the increased caution with which head injuries are treated.

    While Mathews has already grown weary of the references to being LaDainian Tomlinson’s replacement, the reality is that not only will he be compared to LT for what he does on the field but also for how well he stays on the field.

    Not until his ninth and final season, when he sat out two weeks with an ankle sprain, did Tomlinson miss a regular-season game because of injury. Despite being held out of the 2004 regular-season finale after the Chargers had clinched a playoff spot, Tomlinson’s 127 starts in eight seasons is unmatched by any player in the top 25 on the NFL’s all-time rushing list.

    Unfair to bring up at this point? Perhaps.

    But if Mathews can even resemble that kind of durability, it can be traced back to that day last October.

    “That’s when I realized I could play through being hurt,” Mathews said. “… Just having the mindset of, ‘All right, my ribs are hurt.’ You have to understand they’re not broken, they’re bruised. It’s going to hurt (the next day) whether you go back in or stay out.”
  2. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

    Has he started catching the ball yet? :lol:
  3. Aggieman

    Aggieman I bleed blue and gold

    Aug 14, 2008
    A good read and all but I would like to think that professionals hit a little harder than college students at Utah State. I think he'll do just fine with this, but it's worth noting. Kid's still pounding the pavement when it comes to catching from everything I've heard. Maybe we'll see it pay off tonight. I know I can't wait to see #24 tearing up that field.
  4. AnteaterRaider

    AnteaterRaider Carpe Diem et omni Mundio Staff Member Super Moderator Podcaster

    Jan 19, 2006
    just stay healthy, for the love of GOD stay healthy
  5. wrbanwal

    wrbanwal Well-Known Member

    Dec 27, 2005

  6. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

    I'm right with you here, Aggie. I hope that ALL of our guys absolutely beast this year. That doesn't mean that I don't still have some of the same questions regarding Mathews now that I had going into the draft.

    Prove that I under-estimated you, Ryan. PLEASE!!!! :abq2:
  7. Retired Catholic

    Retired Catholic BoltTalker

    Aug 3, 2006
    He's gonna be just fine.

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