Texas: Nice Ground Game, But Longhorns Need More


The Texas Longhorns won consecutive games following Saturday’s victory against Kansas State, but there’s more needed from offense.

The Texas Longhorns honored fallen mascot Bevo XIV with a Texas-style whoopin’ of Kansas State at Darrel K. Royal Stadium on Saturday, making it two victories in a row for the first time in 2015. The 23-9 win marks the type of victory Texas fans can truly appreciate, one that evokes the phrase, ‘three yards and a cloud of dust.’

Yes, Texas football has long been founded on the running game, with names like Earl Campbell, Ricky Williams, Tony Dorsett and Emmitt Smith each representing awesome ground attacks at both the college and professional level.

Having said that, football – even in the state of Texas – has shifted into something that would have made California passing game gurus like Don Coryell and Bill Walsh grin from ear to ear. Even at the high school level, the ‘spread offense’ has become much more the rule than the exception.

The only wishbone anyone talks about anymore is the one that appears following days of turkey eaten at Thanksgiving.

Second-year head coach Charlie Strong has been wise to figure out how to pound the football as much as possible, especially during the early days of his administration that have neither shown success or identity yet. After all, running the ball has always been the most fluid and effective way of moving the football at all levels.

More from Dallas Sports

Passing is the tricky part, and it’s rather clear that the Longhorns don’t have a passer that Strong really trusts at this time. This is a problem easily survived when you have the army of rushers that Texas had against the Wildcats.

Quarterbacks Jerrod Heard and Tyrone Swoopes, the latter being the bigger, more experienced backup, combined for 111 yards on the ground on a total of 22 carries. Swoopes had three touchdown runs, a short-yardage specialty he’s displayed often since being benched earlier this season in favor of Heard.

The running backs were at it as well, with Johnathan Gray leading all Texas runners with 103 yards on 18 carries. Backup running back D’Onta Foreman also contributed 43 yards on an additional 10 carries.

All told, the burnt-orange running machine amassed 274 yards on a ridiculous 53 carries.

Great work if you can get it – but for how long can this last?

Texas would love to get it’s head above water before season’s end, but to do that, Strong and his staff should probably look into getting some more passing yards out of this offense. Forty-plus carries per game might be possible against upcoming opponents Iowa State and Kansas. I’m not certain that this goes down in three weeks against West Virginia, a road game that’s certain to be a bit more difficult than some might think.

Following a second open date on November 21, Texas faces two opponents that will hard pressed to run on for an entire game. Not that the defenses are anything scary, but the offenses figure to jack up the tempo in the final two games of the season.

The combination of Texas Tech and No.2 Baylor figure to post scores that resemble that of college basketball teams. While the Red Raiders might be a slightly easier opponent in Austin, there’s no question that the Bears, who are currently undefeated at McLane Stadium in Waco, will throw everything possible into the sky in order to not only clinch a spot in the College Football Playoff, bu also humiliate an in-state rival.

Yes, Texas would be wise to get some air miles going between now and then.

Don’t get me wrong – if the Longhorns can continue traveling up and down the field the way they have been recently, then have at it. That Bears offense, which could be missing quarterback Seth Russell due to a neck injury suffered against Iowa State, can’t do much harm if it’s sitting on the sideline while the Longhorns offense runs the ball and the clock.

Still, 99 yards passing, which is exactly what Texas quarterbacks logged against Kansas State, isn’t going to be enough to bring about a positive end to a 2015 campaign that still has time to end up being considered successful.

Next: Mavericks: Why Dallas Is Better Than You Think

More from Sports Dallas Fort-Worth