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The Morning After: Will the Real Running Game Please Stand Up?

The real identity of the Texas offense needs to reveal itself sooner rather than later

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Photo via: Tommy Gilligan, USA TODAY Sports

“May I have your attention please?”

The Texas Longhorns tallied just 98 rushing yards against the Maryland Terrapins in 2017.  Flash forward a year and that number didn’t get much better.  Texas amassed 142 yards on 36 carries for 3.9 yards per carry average in the loss in Landover.  The team still can’t identify its feature running back or backs.

D’Onta Foreman had 2,028 total rushing yards in 2016.  Daniel Young led all running backs last season with 373 yards.  Let that sink in.

Worster, Campbell, Williams, Holmes, Benson, Charles — it’s part of who Texas football is.

And Texas should have a better-than-average ground game every year — period.

The lack of production on the ground was apparent last season, and Texas knew they needed to do something to address it.  Adding Cal grad transfer Tre Watson in the off-season was a great step in that direction, and the signing of Carthage High School running back Keaontay Ingram in February indicated promise for the future.  Daniel Young had a decent freshman year last season, and guys like Kyle Porter and Toneil Carter are more than serviceable at the position.

It’s not for a lack of talent or depth in the running game.

“Please stand up, Please stand up.”

The offensive line still has work to do, but they are an improved unit from last season. Ehlinger was sacked just once, and that was largely in-part to him holding on to the ball too long.

Watson’s debut with the Longhorns resulted in 12 carries for 52 yards.  He led the Longhorns in rushing, averaging 4.3 yards per carry. Listed on the depth chart as the co-starter, Daniel Young carried the ball 8 times for 27 yards.

Kyle Porter and D’Shawn Jamison combined for -4 yards on 3 carries.

True freshman Keaontay Ingram had 6 carries for 37 yards, averaging 6.2 yards per carry, including a long of 18 yards and a touchdown.  Ingram’s average and longest run were best on the day among all running backs, yet Ingram didn’t see more carries. He should have.

The season is still very young but Tom Herman and Texas need to figure things out quickly, particularly at running back. In a sputtering offense filled with inconsistencies, a power running game can provide the spark an offense needs to get back on track.

Watson’s experience warrants him receiving significant carries early on, but not at the expense of lightning in a bottle.

It’s still too early to anoint Keaontay Ingram as the undisputed starter of the running back unit, just like it is too early to write off a guy like Daniel Young.  The coaches are paid to make adjustments after watching film and fine-tune the depth chart accordingly.

Next week will tell whether or not the necessary adjustments were made.

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Aaron Carrara is the founder and publisher of HornSports and has covered University of Texas athletics since 2011. Aaron is a member of the Football Writer's Association of America and the U.S. Basketball Writer's Association and is a proud father to three boys.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Robert

    September 2, 2018 at 1:57 pm

    It does not matter who they start. If the running game is working, they’ll just abandon it. or worse, they’ll give it to Kyle Porter 46 times for -4 yards

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