Patience pays off for Gest

The early-season carries were slow to come.

So while Cole Gest watched from the sideline and waited his turn, he wondered. Was this what he wanted?

“(There were) just a lot of mental struggles, honestly, just questioning if I really wanted to do this anymore,” the redshirt freshman running back said. “Not playing, it takes a toll on your psyche.”

These days, however, Gest is feeling much better.

The 5-foot-8 dynamo is finding a niche in Indiana’s backfield as a speed complement to Morgan Ellison’s power-running style. Gest recorded a career-high 109 all-purpose yards with a personal-best 82 rushing yards during Saturday’s win at Illinois, illustrating his value in a Hoosier running attack that needs the help.

“Morgan has been a pleasant surprise, but Cole is a guy that I always, really from last year, felt like he had a chance to be a really good one,” IU coach Tom Allen said. “You just need that. You can’t have enough of them.”

Gest was in the mix to play last season as a true freshman until he suffered an ankle injury in late September, forcing him to take a medical redshirt.

This fall, Gest received only eight carries through the first three games, while Ellison and Mike Majette received the bulk of the work.

Gest was admittedly frustrated. He wanted to play.

The Ohio native never thought about transferring due to the lack of game reps, but he struggled with his role. Ultimately, he wanted to prove he deserved a higher volume of work.

During the past month, that’s what he’s done.

“You can’t just tap out and quit because it’s not going your way sometimes,” Gest said. “In the real world, you can’t pout about it. Things aren’t always going to go your way. You just have to see it through and continue to work and continue to get better. Good things come to those who wait. I understood this life principle and I applied it.”

In his last two games — he didn’t play against Wisconsin after getting hurt the week prior at Maryland — Gest has 120 rushing yards on 29 carries.

He also scored his first career touchdown on a 23-yard reception on Oct. 28 at Maryland. For Gest, that moment proved his wait was worth it.

“I was like, ‘Oh, thank you, Jesus,'” Gest said. “Through the season, it was rough and just for that, to finally cross that pylon for the first time was like, ‘Alright, lord, you got me.’ It was like a load was just lifted off me. It was huge.”

Patience — in all of its forms — has been the key to Gest’s season.

Beyond waiting his turn to take the field, Gest has had to develop patience as a runner. With his burst, he’s had a tendency to run faster than his linemen can block.

Finding an effective pace has allowed Gest to find a crease, then shoot straight through it.

“He’s kind of learned that,” IU offensive coordinator Mike DeBord said. “I think (running backs coach Mike Hart) has done a great job with those guys, talking about how there’s times to keep the ball front side, then there’s times to cut it back.”

Gest has also been a weapon in the passing game. In his past two games, Gest has caught five passes for 55 yards.

“He’s an explosive, really twitchy back that you can do a lot of things with out of the backfield,” IU quarterback Richard Lagow said. “Really proud of how he just stuck with it. He never got down on himself or said, ‘Why me?’ He kept showing up to work every day and it’s paying off for him.”

16 comments

  1. Kettles and Pots. DeBord says Hart has done a great job? Duh! That statement is voluminous to IUFB Scoopers.

  2. It has been good seeing Gest have a larger role in the past several weeks. He gives IU a shot for break runs for big games. He also makes defenses adjust to a different style of runner than Ellison is. I expect both of them to respond to increased competition in the RB room next year.

    1. This year is not over yet! I want both Gest and Ellison to get over 100 yds in each of these last two regular season games. Then do the same in our 3rd straight bowl game! Go IU!

      1. Past history is evidence to me chances are slim to none for hitting those #’s with the play calling this offense has been subject to as playmakers are not recognized.

  3. HC, do you really think talent and experience on this offense matches last year’s offense? The numbers for this year compared to last year are equal or better than in 2016. This is the first year this staff has been with these players and I agree it took them too long to find the play makers. I remember however the staff didn’t have film, on our current play makers, from last year’s film. I get it you don’t like DeBord but to be fair we won’t know how good he is until after next year. The numbers say it is as good as Wilson was last year when Wilson had a more experienced offense.

  4. I absolutely do. You would too if you wouldn’t conveniently forget all the significant injuries last year on offense.

  5. Jeff Brohm found play makers at lowly Purdue game 1 so game film excuse doesn’t hold. IU’s offense is too predictable. The tempo is not producing on first down= poor success rate = more punting, worn out players and injuries. If the starters ran 1 play per game no one would be hurt, 1,000 plays, everyone would be hurt. More plays= more injuries and their tempo offense has them #5 nationally for # plays. No depth and more plays the reason IU is outscored almost 4 to 1 in fourth. Sheridan and DeBord also have no qb recruits. If Rutgers can land a 4 star and Purdue lands mid to upper 3 stars every year, IU shouldn’t have these problems. If they can’t win with players they have and can’t recruit- replace them.

  6. HC, I do remember the injuries and understood that was part of the struggles last year. You just don’t accept we didn’t have a 1,000 yd rusher returning this year or starting with 3 senior OL last year like last year before injuries became a problem. Yet we still struggled to win against the weaker teams on the schedule and without a better defense we would have lost a couple of those games with the way the offense played.

    123, deBord and Sheridan already have a high 3 star QB in Reese from Ben Davis and are working on a JC QB that ranks IU high even though other power 5 schools are after him. IU is in good shape at QB if they can land Wilson from JC but have a plan in place for a very athletic HS QB. The lack of QBs was on Wilson and this coming year is the first year for DeBord and Sheridan in recruiting at IU. They know and we know the QB position needs to be upgraded.

    1. V- to call Taylor a college quarterback is a stretch. He has a world of talent but he’s 5’10 and 155 lbs. There’s no way he could be an every down quarterback. IU and everyone else recruited him as an athlete. But IU wanted 2 quarterback recruits and struck out on all their picks. So now they are saying Taylor can play QB. Maybe for a couple of series but he makes Zander Diamont look like a giant.

  7. Originally Reese from Ben Davis was not recruited as a QB, but as an athletic. An I doubt if he stays at QB with this coaching staff inability to see or find play-maker. You are correct, the lack of QB is on Wilson, due to some players transferring (Tre Roberson) and switching positions (Chris Covington). An like this coaching staff, Mr. Wilson went the JC ranks (provide this staff gets a QB). IU is not in good shape at QB even if they land the JC Wilson. Peyton Ramsey is limited, at best a game manager. If Nick Tronti was all that they would have taken the red-shirt off. I am still amazed that not many power 5 schools where recruiting Nick Tronti, seeing that he was Florida Mr. Football (something is wrong). Don’t hand me that bull*** about him not participating in football camps. This offensive coaching staff (Mike Debord) has not shown the ability to find play-makers or identify play-makers.

  8. Same goes for having a decent D serving up the wins this year. You can’t have a 1k yd. rusher if you can’t identify 1. I don’t know how MD ever became an OC. He ought to be able to identify playmakers faster than I can but he can’t even though he definitely has more opportunity and supposedly vast experience doing so. Besides his inability for dynamic play calls I’m now down right worried about his evaluation of talent to offer scholarships to. If he is still here for year 3 the tenure of Allen is over. It is exactly as I surmised in September he has no clue how to coach improving results from mediocre/average talent. He is not even a patch to KW. DeBord along with the “phony” RB coach oughta back-up with their hands behind them on payday. There was just as much to overcome last season on D as there is this year on the offense and DC Allen made it happen and is still doing it with added HCing duties while his “owner” of the offense flounders. I probably wouldn’t have pulled the triggers of both barrels if I had not seen in person the Meatchicken game in MS. It was a bad joke how many poor choices and decisions he and his staff made and the only change I see taking place to lessen the affects of them is the schedule has gotten easier and he has stumbled into a better rushing attack.

  9. I am not sold on DeBord but I see the difference in talent [mainly inexperience] this year on offense and make some concession for the offensive players lost from last year. When was the last season our best rb was a freshman? I too wonder why it took so long to figure out Ellison and Gest were the best RBs but I wasn’t at practice to see what was happening. Like with Wilson, DeBord, or any other OC we all question play calling and I certainly have wondered about play calling this year just like I have in past years. I am willing to see how DeBord does next year before deciding we need a new OC.

  10. IU79, Tronti was a 3 star QB so explain why other schools didn’t go after him, by the way Arizona was recruiting him when he committed to IU. You should know more about Tronti before calling BS on what was going on.

  11. Tronti was a 2 star until IU and Arizona showed interest which got his ranking up to a low 3. He’s a really good runner but he had to put a lot of air under throws in HS. I worry about his arm strength.

    1. V, save your time and effort. It is clearly a losing battle trying to convince t, IU79, and HC that DeBord and Hart know anything about football or their players at all.

      Allen stresses takeaways on D and ball protection on O. Ellison has had a number of fumbles, some of which have been costly, and Gest also fumbled after a nice run several weeks back. On these occasions, the players came out and had to prove to the coaches they wouldn’t fumble in the future. There was no way either of them was going to fumble in the Illinois game as they both were securing the ball with both hands going through the line and when they were getting hit. Wilson used to do the same thing. I think I remember Tevin Coleman getting pulled after a costly fumble and not playing for at least a couple of quarters.

      Wilson had trouble recruiting and keeping quarterbacks. If Debord and Sheridan can’t recruit one or two descent quarterbacks for 2019, then it’s time to worry and to criticize them, but not yet.

      As far as play calling, we Monday morning quarterbacks can always find fault with the real coaches, and it is not just us IU fans. Anytime a team loses, a certain portion of the fan base is going to criticize the play calling, whether in junior high, high school, college, or pro games. I bet the Ohio State fans weren’t real thrilled with Wilson’s play calling in the Iowa loss. Of course, we fans don’t have the benefit of watching hours and hours of film in deciding what plays to call and we have no idea why the coaches might have called a particular play at a particular point in a game. When a play goes for big yardage or a td, it’s a great call. When it get’s stuffed, it’s a bad call.

      I do agree with the above guys who question running so many plays, especially against the teams that have way greater depth than IU. If a defense can substitute enough quality people, an offense like IU’s can get tired out. Such a fast paced offense can work against teams with similar or lesser depth than IU, but not against the big boys. I also agree that more plays means more opportunities for injuries. However, most teams have lost a significant number of players by this time of the year. Those with quality depth can overcome the injuries, but those without that quality depth like IU will struggle.

      1. Fumbles had absolutely nothing to do with Gest not getting snaps in the 1st half of the season. It was that idiot Hart not having the skills to evaluate who the playmakers are in the RB group and his boss suffers from the same. With blind ignorance they kept starting Majette until they were forced to do something different when he was injured. By the way Majette has 22 carries for 22 yards as the IU starter. Also fumbles this season are shared by Timian, Harris, Cobbs. They lost no playing time.

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