It almost goes without saying anymore that if you can’t run the ball, set the pace of the game, and physically push your opponent off the football with consistency, you’re going to have trouble winning at the highest levels of college football.
In 2010, a young Texas offensive line struggled mightily to gain the type of leverage against opposing D-Lines to help Texas be able to establish the run game. Cody Johnson, D.J. Monroe– even Tre Newton in limited action– just did not have enough time to hit holes and make things happen because there weren’t any holes to hit.
So far in 2011, the Texas offensive line has taken a much more direct approach to run blocking as part of Bryan Harsin’s offensive schemes– a direct approach which is paying some tangible dividends.
Texas is 21st in the country in rushing yards per game so far this season, averaging 226 yards a game. David Snow, Mason Walters and the Texas O-Linemen have done an oustanding job getting push on the line, and are blocking more vertically instead of push blocking along the boundary to try and create running lanes.
This physical dominance has allowed Malcolm Brown, Fozzy Whitaker and the Texas running backs to make more cerebral runs given what they see transpiring upfield instead of having to try and hit a hole horizontally that could disappear as soon as it is opened in Greg Davis’ old run-blocking schemes.
The premium is placed on being aggressive and the victor at the moment of the snap.
As long as the Longhorns’ linemen can continue to win these split-second battles with consistency, the Texas run game which has shown some promise should only improve as the conference season gets underway in coming weeks.