- Carter Strickland, Reporter, HornsNation
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AUSTIN, Texas -- Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith and the Texas defense altered Johnathan Gray’s day.
Because the latter could not stop the former, Gray had to settle for far less carries than had been planned. The freshman running backs settled for five. Four of those came in the fourth quarter. He finished with nine yards.
"We wanted to get Johnathan in more," said Texas head coach Mack Brown.
That will be the plan as Texas moves toward New Mexico. And this week, unlike last, there is more reason to believe it might execute it. New Mexico was 119 out of 120 FBS teams against the run last season. It allowed 246 yards per game and 46 rushing touchdowns.
Texas should have close to or possible more offensive plays than the 75 it had against Wyoming. That means the Longhorns should have another game in which they run the ball 45-plus times. That is right where Brown wants to be.
"Carry it 45 times a game and all of a sudden when you throw it another 25 to 30 times, you're in the 80s and 90s in play selection, and that's where you'd like to be," he said.
Where Texas hopes to be after the New Mexico game is sitting with a more equitable split among the three backs. The duo of Malcolm Brown (14 carries) and Joe Bergeron (15) had just that. D.J. Monroe and quarterback David Ash combined for 10 carries.
Some of those carries could shift to Gray for the New Mexico game.
"Hopefully he'll play more next week," Brown said.
Run game part 2
Texas went for 286 yards in the run game. That means the Longhorns are now 46-0 under Brown when they rush for more than 250 yards.
According to the Longhorns players, plan on seeing much more of the run game and a much more effective run game in the coming weeks.
"That was a good glimpse of it," said guard Mason Walters of the run game’s capabilities. "We can definitely get better.
"The thing that is going to make or break this power game that we have been talking about is consistency going in week in and week out," he continued. "Teams are going to know it is coming and prepare for it. We are just going to have to continue letting it evolve the way it will."
Texas quarterback David Ash picked up right where he left off last season -- effective but far from flashy. After the way Ash started his career, Texas will take it.
Ash is 2-0 with no turnovers in his last two starts with a 149.0 pass efficiency rating. In his first five starts he was 2-3 with six interceptions and a rating of 121.2.
"David played very confident today," said Shipley. "I think he had a lot of weight off his shoulders now, and he’s ready to go.
"There were times last year where he was extremely nervous as a freshman. I think this year he knows he has been through it and is facing a great defense everyday and that has made him a lot more confident."
Texas might not have found a replacement for Fozzy Whittaker in the wild formation just yet. But it is working on it.
Joe Bergeron, who rushed for 110 yards, took the direct snaps from center for Texas. And while he wasn’t explosive, there were signs that he could be the player Texas leans on the future in the wild.
"What I looked at tonight was the operation to it; with the snap, the fake, the hand-off, and whatever else we might do out of it," said co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin. "He ran the show, and that is really what you want to see early with just the operation of it. He will get better and be able to handle it upfront or with whatever the blocking scheme we have with it."