The California Golden Bears — which play Ole Miss this weekend — have lost starting running back Tre Watson for the rest of the 2017 college football season, according to the Associated Press.
Watson went down on a screen play with an apparent right leg injury in the first quarter of Cal’s 33-20 win over Weber State on Saturday.
He reportedly limped off the field and then tried to return in the second quarter before going out for good.
“You feel for a guy like that that’s put in so much time and effort into the program,” Golden Bears coach Justin Wilcox said on Monday, according to the AP. “We’ll have his back. Now it’s going to be the next man up at that position. He’ll bounce back from this but it’s never easy going through that.”
Watson rushed for 709 yards and four touchdowns last season. He was “expected to be a centerpiece of California’s offense” this season, the report noted. Watson was a preseason candidate for the Doak Walker Award that goes to the nation’s top running back.
Patrick Laird replaced Watson for the remainder of the Weber State game and rushed for 191 yards and three touchdowns.
It appears the Golden Bears have a solid replacement, but it remains to be seen whether Laird will be able to put up those kind of numbers against Ole Miss’ SEC-caliber defense.