The Texas Longhorns will win the Big 12 this season, thanks to a rushing attack that will dominate opposing defenses.
In the Big 12, the spread offense has reigned supreme over the last decade. However, the Longhorns' offense is designed around a pound it out ground game, featuring a stable of backs that could be the most talented in the country.
They will be able to keep each other fresh and can come at Texas' opponents in waves.
So, here are six reasons that the Longhorns rushing attack will subjugate opponents during the whole 2012 season.
The first member of the Longhorns three-headed monster in the backfield is Malcolm Brown, and he’s the most balanced of the group.
Brown’s a great overall back with impressive quickness in and out of his cuts. He has strong, powerful legs that allow him to work through tackles and, in addition, has the speed to break off big games.
He was Texas' top recruit in 2011 and the top running back in his class.
Brown saw plenty of touches during his freshman season, rushing for 742 yards and five touchdowns. Those numbers were made all the more the impressive, because of a turf toe injury that kept him out of three games.
He seemed to slow down a bit after he returned from the injury at the end of last season, but that was just his freshman year. He will come back stronger and more mentally ready to deal with the grind of the full college schedule in 2012.
Expect Brown to spearhead the Longhorns’ spectacular rushing attack with a strong sophomore campaign.
When Fozzy Whittaker was dealt a season ending knee injury last year, freshman Joe Bergeron stepped in to fill the void.
In back-to-back games against Kansas and Texas Tech, Bergeron put on a pair of dazzling multiple-touchdown performances.
First, against the Jayhawks, Bergeron rushed for 136 yards and two touchdowns. Then as an encore, he dismantled the Red Raider defense, running for 191 yards and found the end zone three times.
In 2012, it will be up to the 6'1", 240-pound Bergeron to be the bruiser in the Texas backfield. He displayed the ability to bull through opponents with his size last season and proved to be an effective goal-line back.
Despite his bulk, he is also surprisingly effective at pushing the ball to the outside and displays speed not usually associated with someone with his mass.
Bergeron will be the least talked about member of this group, but his ability to pound the ball into the end zone could make him the most important.
The final piece of the Longhorns potent backfield could be the most talented.
Johnathan Gray was the top running back recruit in the class of 2012, and the second ranked player in the whole class.
Gray's place on the list was much deserved, as he shattered the Texas high school record books in his four years at Aledo High School. He led Aledo to three straight state titles, and in his final game he set the national record for career touchdowns.
When he gets to Texas, expect him to have a similar impact.
Gray will see imitate playing time as a freshman, and will be the most explosive runner in the backfield.
Gray features a rare combination of quickness and speed that allows him to glide around the field and escape would be tacklers with the slipperiness of a fish bathed in butter.
He play style is similar to that of Reggie Bush in his USC days, and he could have that kind of impact for Texas over the next few years.
However in 2012, Gray won't have to carry the load.
He only has to complement Brown and Bergeron's thunder with his lightning—lightning quickness that is.
The Longhorns’ rushing attack was ranked 21st in the nation last season and that was with a sub-par offensive line.
Now, just imagine what they can do in 2012 with a better one.
Last year Texas’ line lacked depth and talent, struggling all season to protect the Texas quarterbacks and to create holes for the running backs.
Despite that, the half backs found a way to be effective.
Heading into this season, the line will see much improved depth. More importantly, however, the line will be much more seasoned.
In 2011, the lack of experience showed.
The offensive line was often bullied and pushed around by bigger and stronger opposing defenses and they missed more assignments as a group than some high school teams.
However, in 2012 that shouldn't be an issue. They're only losing one player off of last season's group—guard David Snow—and incoming junior-college transfer Donald Hawkins is expected to provide an instant upgrade at left tackle.
With another year of experience and an upgrade of talent at a key position, you can expect the line to create significantly more holes for the Texas backs in 2012.
In the Big 12 the spread offense is king, which is a big reason why the Longhorns' rushing attack will confound Big 12 defenses in 2012.
Week to week, defensive coordinators have to prepare for a myriad of quick-hitting spread attacks.
Whether it's Mike Gundy's version of the spread at Oklahoma State or newcomer West Virginia and quarterback Geno Smith, opposing defenses will have to spend a significant amount of practice time preparing for the spread.
Almost every offense in the Big 12 will feature an attack built around the pass. Well, except for the Longhorns that is.
This will make it so difficult for opponents to deal with Texas next year.
The Longhorns’ attack will serve as a changeup to opponents every week. Defenses will go from preparing to deal with a high-flying spread attack to prepping for a bruising running game in less than a week.
Preparation is of the upmost importance in football. If opposing defenses come into the games without it, the Longhorns attack could run rampant in the Big 12.
Last season the Texas running back stable was riddled with injuries.
This year the added depth in the backfield should help keep all of the workhorses on the field.
Texas' top three runners should all put up great numbers, but they will all assist each other even when they're not on the field together—by keeping each other fresh.
Usually, when a running back gets the majority of the touches, they break down near the end of games and at the end of the year.
This is why you are seeing so many teams move to a two-back system.
Texas has the advantage of having three talented ball carriers in its stable.
Meaning that while defenses get exhausted as the game wears on, the Longhorns ability to attack in waves will give them the advantage late in games.
You won't see Heisman-type numbers from any Texas back this season, but together this backfield will be as good, if not better than any group in the country.