Texas Longhorns Running Backs Present a Problem, Albeit a Good One
The Texas Longhorns, more specifically offensive coordinator Major Applewhite, have a problem. The team has so many talented offensive weapons, particularly at running back, that the new offensive play-caller may have a difficult time finding ways to get them enough touches.
The depth chart officially declares sophomore Johnathan Gray as the team’s number one back (which he has indeed earned); however, there are fans that will argue that junior Malcolm Brown could in fact be the team’s most complete back. Then there’s fellow junior Joe Bergeron, who is listed third on the depth chart despite the fact that he is likely the team’s toughest bruiser at the position.
Add rising stars Daje Johnson (listed as a running back/wide receiver) and true freshman quarterback-turned-running back Jalen Overstreet to the mix, and you have quite a talented group of backs. The problem, however, is making sure that they are all involved in the offense and keeping them all happy.
In the season-opener, the Longhorns racked up 359 yards on the ground, and the bulk of that wasn’t from the people fans would have most expected. Overstreet, Johnson, and Bergeron combined for a total of 213 rushing yards. Even David Ash ended the game with 91 yards rushing. On the other hand, Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray had quiet nights running the ball, garnering just 31 yards between.
It’s not that Gray and Brown were bad; in fact, Brown was ironically the team’s leading receiver with over 100 yards. It’s simply that that Johnson, Bergeron, and Overstreet were that good and Major was doing all he could to get the others involved early (in Gray’s case) and often.
Sure, one could argue that most of Overstreet and Bergeron’s yards came at the end of the game when the defense was already exhausted, and that is true; nevertheless, we’ve seen enough of Bergeron to know that he can do the same even against fresh defenses and is good enough to start at most schools, and Overstreet showed fans that he’s too talented to use only in garbage time.
So what does that mean for the offense?
It means that the team is stacked with an embarrassment of riches, but as we know, offensive touches per game are not limitless. In order for the offense to reach its potential this season, Applewhite must find a way to get all these talented young players involved and to keep them all happy. Yes, it’s a problem, but it’s no doubt a good problem to have. It will be interesting to see how Applewhite handles it moving forward.