Don’t look now, but the Longhorns have themselves a running game.
After years of preseason promises that the Longhorns will put up yards on the ground, followed by the team instead airing it out 40 to 50 times per game, the rushing attack has become prominent once again.
Following this past weekend in college football, the Longhorns now rank 21st in rushing yards per game, averaging 226.33 yards per contest.
This time last year the Longhorns were averaging 152.33 yards per game, ranking 76th in the nation. And who said change was bad?
Malcolm Brown is ranked 46th in the nation in yards per game with 88. A revamped Fozzy Whittaker is showing his inner Ronnie Brown, running the “wild-horn” with a veteran ease. Add the bruising running style of Cody Johnson, and Texas has a legitimate three-headed monster coming out of the backfield.
A lot of people believe that winning championships means having a stellar passing attack. While being able to throw the ball is key for a team’s success, statistics have shown over the past four years that being able to run the ball is just as important. Last year’s champion, Auburn, ranked third in the nation in rushing with 284.8 yards a game. In 2009, Alabama ranked eighth at the end of the year with 215.1 yards per contest on the ground. Tim Tebow and company ranked seventh in 2008, running Oklahoma out of the national championship game with 241 yards on the ground in the Orange Bowl. LSU ranked 10th in 2007.
In Texas’ opener versus Rice, the Longhorns rushed for 229 yards. This past weekend, the team rushed for 284 yards, a 24 percent increase from week one. If the Longhorns were to follow this gradual trend, look for a team-rushing total of around 350 yards versus Oklahoma.
The fact that Texas has three go-to running backs has historically shown to be beneficial. Every national championship team in the past few years has had two or more backs that can rack up yards. Percy Harvin (who split time at wide out and running back) and Tim Tebow at Florida, Trent Richardson and Mark Ingram at Alabama. Cam Newton, Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb at Auburn.
A lot goes into winning championships in college football, and the running game is just one facet. The last time Texas averaged more than 225 yards per game in a season on the ground was in 2005. The Longhorns rushed for 274 yards a contest, winning the Rose Bowl and Texas’ fourth national championship. The Longhorns have a long road ahead of them, but as long as the running game is alive, the odds of winning many games is, too.