Malcolm Brown leads running backs in Texas loss


Elisabeth Dillon

Malcolm Brown runs the ball down the field during Texas’ loss to Kansas State on Saturday. After injuring his ankle during the Oklahoma State game, Brown was sidelined for five games. Although Texas lost, he finished the game with 40 yards on seven rushes.

Lauren Giudice

Last season, Malcolm Brown became the first true freshman to lead Texas in rushing since Cedric Benson.

Because of an injury and increased competition, this season hasn’t been quite as monumental for him.

Brown injured his ankle during Texas’ win over Oklahoma State in September. After missing five games, he rushed 10 times against Iowa State and had his first carry in the fourth quarter of that game.

But he was dormant with no rushes in Texas’ loss to TCU.

Running backs coach Major Applewhite said it was because of his tweaking his ankle during the game against the Cyclones. After a long absence, Brown finally made an impact during Texas’ loss to Kansas State.

“It was great to get back out on the field with my team,” Brown said. “It has been a while. It is not about me or anything. We just wanted to come out here and just play our best. Nothing was solely just on me. We did not come out with a ‘W,’ so it was disappointing.”

He finished the game with seven rushes for 40 yards, averaging 5.7 yards per carry. He made an even bigger impact in the passing game and caught six passes for 43 yards and had his first career touchdown reception. The only points Texas scored during the second half were made by Brown.

As a freshman, he led the team in rushing with 742 yards and five touchdowns. He missed Texas’ games against Texas Tech and Missouri last season. His absence was certainly felt during Texas’ 17-5 loss to the Tigers.

Freshman Johnathan Gray had little playing time early in the year, with young talents like Brown and Joe Bergeron in the backfield making it difficult to get the freshman touches. In Brown’s absence, Gray found his way around the offense and now leads the team in rushing. But based on Brown’s performance Saturday, who sits in that top running back spot is once again a question. The running back corps is described as the most closely knit group on the team, but the depth is likely forcing some healthy competition.

Before Texas’ loss to Kansas State, co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin said Brown’s injury was just part of the reason he wasn’t getting significant playing time.

“When guys get injured, other guys step up,” Harsin said. “That’s what you ask them to do, what you expect them to do. Guys have done that. He’s getting himself back in the mix. He has to continue to keep preparing well, practicing hard, gets his opportunities in games to make them count. We evaluate as the week goes on in practice how they look, how they’re competing, operating in the offense that week.”

Although his absence this season was felt, Gray and Bergeron kept the backfield productive. With the Alamo Bowl as the sole remaining game, Brown’s return comes at a good time for the Longhorns. Third-down specialist Jeremy Hills is out for the season with a fractured leg and Oregon State sits in 32nd in the country in run defense with 137.9 rushing yards given up per game.

Brown and the rest of the Longhorns are heading to San Antonio for the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29. Brown, who is from Cibolo, gets the opportunity to play near his hometown.

“I will definitely be looking forward to it,” Brown said. “I know a lot of friends and family are going to be there for me, and we have a couple other guys from San Antonio also on the team. It’s going to be a great family atmosphere for us, and anybody else who lives here in Texas, I know their families will be there also.”

After two consecutive losses to end the regular season, Brown hopes that this game will send the few Texas seniors out on a positive note and prepare returning players for 2013.

“Just for us younger guys we want to focus in on that game, prepare, and take that momentum to the next season,” Brown said.

Printed on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012 as: Brown returns: Malcolm Brown finally has the return he wanted during Texas' loss to KSU