Texas abandons run game early vs. UNM 

September, 10, 2012
AUSTIN, Texas -- Mack Brown told his team and his coaches at halftime of the New Mexico game that he "wanted to get this thing over with and let everyone play."

So then it came as no shock that the first five plays of the second half were called runs. The sixth was an inside shovel pass that might as well have been a run. The result was a 75-yard touchdown drive. Texas, after all, is a running team.

But for most of the first half, Texas was anything but a ground attack. The Longhorns shelved their running backs in the first 30 minutes and took to the air on 16 of 27 plays.

[+] EnlargeJohnathan Gray
Cooper Neill/Getty ImagesTexas running back Johnathan Gray has just 39 yards on 12 carries so far this season.
"We wanted to throw it more," Brown said. "Like we said, we knew we were going to win the game. We know we can run the ball. We're trying to get more balance. We wanted to get the ball in receivers' hands and work on our protections and do things that we needed to do and not beat our backs up so much."

No worries there. Malcolm Brown ran the ball twice. Johnathan Gray rushed it seven times. All told, the trio of backs had 20 rushes for 74 yards. That’s a far cry from the 34 touches and 214 yards they had in the opener.

But, again, when Texas needed it the run game was there. Joe Bergeron had six carries for 33 yards in the first two touchdown drives of the second half. The run game churned out 66 yards on those first two drives.

But those two series, the ones in which Texas decided to put away the game so everybody could play, were the only ones that heavily featured the run. Brown said that was OK with the running backs.

"This has been a team that understands their role," he said. "They know what we're trying to do, and why we're trying to do it."

The distribution of carries among the running backs going forward still remains a mystery. Just last week Brown said he would like to get each 15 touches a game. To do that, Texas is going to have to get more touches on offense. It only had 61 against New Mexico after having 75 against Wyoming.

One former Texas player who knows a little something about running the ball said equal time and carries for three backs might be untenable.

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