• Stat Guy: Malcolm Brown may be the next great Longhorn running back

    It may be hard to believe, but at one point in time Texas was Running Back U. And this past Saturday night could have marked its reemergence.

    With the likes of Earl Campbell, Ricky Williams, Cedric Benson and others, Texas has historically dominated the ground game. But with spread offenses becoming the norm in college football the past few years, the Longhorns have strayed from the physical style of play in recent years, choosing to spread the ball out to a variety of receivers and focus on an offensive line philosophy that emphasizes stepping backwards to pass block rather than stepping forwards to run block.

    Times might be changing yet again. With 86 yards rushing on 16 carries, true freshman Malcolm Brown looked like a blast from the past Saturday night against Rice.

    How does that stack up against previous Longhorn legends? In his debut, Earl Campbell had 85 yards against Boston College in 1974. Ricky Williams burst onto the scene with 95 yards and two touchdowns against Hawaii in 1995. The versatile Ramonce Taylor had 96 yards against North Texas in 2004. Cedric Benson had 64 yards on 15 carries against New Mexico State in 2001.

    The most impressive freshman debut in school history belongs to Jamaal Charles, who rushed for 135 yards against Louisiana-Lafayette in 2005.

    Brown earned all 86 of his yards in the second half after not registering a touch in the first. He only had two negatives through the night, a botched handoff that resulted in a fumble and a dropped pass.

    “It was a good start. I’ve got a long way to go,” Brown said. “I have to hold on to that ball. I had that one fumble. That’s going to stay in my mind for a little bit.”

    Who knows how the stud from Cibolo’s Steele High School will finish his career as a Longhorn, but if historical statistics hold true, it’ll probably be successful. 

  • Goodwin returning to football team, will practice Tuesday

    Texas’ receiving corps just got a whole lot faster.

    After originally opting to redshirt this season, Marquise Goodwin is coming back to play football for the Longhorns. Goodwin will join the team for practice Tuesday and was seen working out with senior safety Blake Gideon and head strength coach Bennie Wylie Monday afternoon at Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium.

    “Words can’t even explain how I excited I am right now to be getting back on the football field,” Goodwin said. “I texted Coach [Mack] Brown after the game on Saturday and told him how much I missed football. I said I was having second thoughts about redshirting and he said, ‘We miss you and need you, so come out if you want.’”

    Goodwin’s 26’3” (8.02 m) leap in the qualifying round of the long jump at the World Championships in Daegu, Korea landed him in 13th place. The top 12 advanced to the final round and despite being tied with two others for 11th, Goodwin didn’t move on as he finished behind the other two in a tiebreaker based on the next best jump.

    The junior receiver made 31 catches for 324 yards and one touchdown last season but Goodwin may be best remembered for his go-ahead 14-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter of Texas’ 16-13 win over Oklahoma two years ago.

  • The Stat Guy: Joe Bergeron could turn heads

    Every football fan loves them — the shiny little stars next to their highly touted recruit. It’s a point of pride for fans to boast about how good their running back or receiver is going to be, based upon their respective rankings in recruiting databases.

    While many highly praised high school athletes continue their domination into college, a lot of overlooked players have been stealing the spotlight the past few years. LaMichael James, Oregon’s Heisman-hopeful running back, has amassed 3,277 yards rushing, averaging 6.3 yards per carry during his first two years in Eugene. His ranking coming out of high school? Four stars and the 12th-best running back in his class.

    While that’s not terrible, it’s not like he was the most coveted guy in the country. Same for Jamaal Charles, Texas’ best recent running back, who was a four-star recruit coming out of Port Arthur. Charles finished his Longhorn career early averaging 6.3 yards a carry. Now, he’s being selected as the No. 1 pick in many fantasy football leagues.

    This season’s recruiting class offers us a similar situation.

    While many fans are anticipating the debut of the five-star, 9.9 yards-a-carry running back Malcolm Brown (and they very well should be), another freshman running back is rapidly gaining momentum.

    Joe Bergeron, a three-star running back out of Mesquite, could be this class’ diamond in the rough. He averaged 6.5 yards a carry in high school, runs a 4.4 second forty-yard dash and he weighs 215 pounds. Somehow, he was overlooked. Bergeron has already been said to have knocked Kenny Vaccaro on his back in practice and is currently on the two-deep depth chart for the Rice game tomorrow.

    “He’s difficult now to bring down,” said co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin. “He’s a strong, powerful guy, and from just the knowledge standpoint of protections and all the different things we do with our backs, I thought he did a great job of handling those things.”

    Could Bergeron be the next underrated recruit to turn heads on Saturdays? We can only wait and see.

    Printed on Friday, September 2, 2011 as: Star rating doesn't predict potential.

  • Garrett Gilbert named starting quarterback

    The wait is over. The Texas Longhorns have a starting quarterback.

    Mack Brown announced Monday morning what many believed was inevitable – that Garrett Gilbert will take his team’s first snaps in Saturday’s season opener against Rice. The decision itself isn’t as much of a surprise as its timing. Gilbert started every game in 2010 and played the majority of the national title game two seasons ago after Colt McCoy suffered an injury. Texas’ other three quarterbacks – sophomore Case McCoy, redshirt freshman Connor Wood, and true freshman David Ash – have one career pass attempt between them. In fact, now that Gilbert has won the job, there are reports that Wood has decided to transfer. Nonetheless, Brown and his coaching staff waited until the week of the Longhorns’ first game to name Gilbert their starter.

    "He's the starting quarterback," Brown said. "If he moves the ball and scores, he'll keep it."

  • The Stat Guy: Comparing Texas’ offense to Boise State’s

    Mack Brown has emphasized repeatedly the importance of third down conversions and red zone offense, two banes of Texas’ existence in 2010.

    Out of 192 attempts, Texas only converted 77 third downs, a measly 40 percent. And in the red zone, the Longhorns scored just 23 touchdowns on 52 attempts from inside the 20-yard line — a 44 percent success rate.

    So after an offseason of cleaning house, it’s out with the old and in with the new.

    Co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin was brought to Texas this past winter to help the Longhorns score. One of the top offensive minds in the country, Harsin put together a strong body of work at Boise State and also helped the Broncos put up some big (and efficient) numbers.

    While Texas sputtered on third downs and in the red zone last year, Boise State fared better. On third down, the Broncos converted 75 times on 153 attempts — a 50 percent rate. But with Harsin calling the plays and quarterback Kellen Moore executing them correctly, they faced a third-down situation 40 fewer times than the Longhorns. And remember Texas’ poor red zone success rate? Up north, Harsin’s Broncos broke the plane 47 times out of 68 attempts (69 percent).

    Boise State’s effectiveness in crucial spots led to some big point totals. The Broncos averaged 45 points per game compared to Texas’ 24.

    It’s clear that Harsin knows how to coach an offense, and he’s done it with two- and three-star recruits. Now, Harsin gets to work with co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite, another young coaching star, and the esteemed recruiting classes Texas hauls in year after year. It shouldn’t be too long before Texas returns to offensive prominence.

    Printed on Monday, August 29, 2011 as: Harsin's influence in Texas may be what offense needs.