Texas’ dire running back situation worsens

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Photo Credit: Joshua Guenther | Daily Texan Staff

After Saturday night’s win against Louisiana Tech, Texas head coach Tom Herman said that freshman running back Jordan Whittington had aggravated his groin. The news Herman relayed to the media Monday was much worse.

“He has torn the adductor off of his pubic symphysis, sports hernia, again, so we are finalizing plans to get him to Philadelphia to get that thing fixed again,” Herman said. “Last time he had it fixed was in Houston. This time we’re going to send him to one of the godfathers of that surgery out there in Philadelphia and hopefully, best case scenario is probably four, but we are looking at probably closer to six weeks before we see him again.”

Whittington’s injury is yet another blow to the running back room left with just one scholarship back. Texas plans to keep freshman quarterback Roschon Johnson and freshman linebacker David Gbenga as the second and third string backs. 

“(Roschon’s) taken to it like a fish in water,” Herman said of Johnson. “When he makes a mistake, he’s hard on himself and it’s like, ‘Ro, you’ve been playing this position for ten days. We kind of understand you’re not going to be perfect.’”

Gbenda and Johnson were well in the picture when the Longhorns began the season. According to Herman, the depth chart was supposed to feature, in order: Keaontay Ingram, Jordan Whittington, Kirk Johnson, Daniel Young and Derrian Brown. Now, Roschon and Gbenda are being hastily inserted into the lineup to split the workload with under two weeks of experience combined.

Saturday night, Roschon was productive in his first game action. He received seven carries for a total of 26 yards. During Texas’ final offensive drive, Johnson touched the ball on three consecutive plays — a sign they wanted to reward the freshman for his willingness to move to the position. 

As the last scholarship running back standing, the workload for sophomore running back Ingram is expected to increase. Ingram touched the ball 14 times for a total of 121 yards against Louisiana Tech. Ingram, however, isn’t 100% himself. He is still dealing with an ankle injury he suffered during a fall camp scrimmage. 

Even with an expected increase in reps, the box score will be similar to the opener when five Longhorns carried the ball for 153 yards on 30 attempts. Texas’ run game will be handled by committee.

“It will not change the game plan,” Herman said. “We’re confident in Keaontay. We’re confident in Roschon. If something were to go awry in the middle of the game, we would have to change courses midstream.”

The amount of injuries Texas has faced is a unique situation, to say the least. The Longhorns began the season with five scholarship running backs and won’t be anywhere near full strength for at least six weeks.

When asked if he’s seen anything like this in his career, Herman answered concisely.

“Never.”