It may be hard to believe, but at one point in time Texas was Running Back U. And this past Saturday night could have marked its reemergence.
With the likes of Earl Campbell, Ricky Williams, Cedric Benson and others, Texas has historically dominated the ground game. But with spread offenses becoming the norm in college football the past few years, the Longhorns have strayed from the physical style of play in recent years, choosing to spread the ball out to a variety of receivers and focus on an offensive line philosophy that emphasizes stepping backwards to pass block rather than stepping forwards to run block.
Times might be changing yet again. With 86 yards rushing on 16 carries, true freshman Malcolm Brown looked like a blast from the past Saturday night against Rice.
How does that stack up against previous Longhorn legends? In his debut, Earl Campbell had 85 yards against Boston College in 1974. Ricky Williams burst onto the scene with 95 yards and two touchdowns against Hawaii in 1995. The versatile Ramonce Taylor had 96 yards against North Texas in 2004. Cedric Benson had 64 yards on 15 carries against New Mexico State in 2001.
The most impressive freshman debut in school history belongs to Jamaal Charles, who rushed for 135 yards against Louisiana-Lafayette in 2005.
Brown earned all 86 of his yards in the second half after not registering a touch in the first. He only had two negatives through the night, a botched handoff that resulted in a fumble and a dropped pass.
“It was a good start. I’ve got a long way to go,” Brown said. “I have to hold on to that ball. I had that one fumble. That’s going to stay in my mind for a little bit.”
Who knows how the stud from Cibolo’s Steele High School will finish his career as a Longhorn, but if historical statistics hold true, it’ll probably be successful.