Texas Football 2013 Season Preview: Why More Carries Will Be Key
For the Texas Longhorns, there is no shame in running; their biggest success comes from doing just that.
With the 2013 season approaching, Mack Brown hasn't been candid about his disappointment with the past few seasons. After a 9-4 season, he has decided to go back to the spread offense, a style that was his bread and butter when they were most successful during his tenure.
But a solution to his team's problems may be easier to find by just looking at the numbers.
The majority of Texas' wins last season proved that when the Longhorns carry the ball more often, they score more points, rack up more yardage through the air and commit fewer turnovers.
Texas was at its best when it effectively pushed the ball to the outside and got the defense off-balance. In their 56-50 win against Baylor, the Longhorns carried the ball 44 times for 251 yards and set the tempo early with an 84-yard touchdown run 17 seconds into the game by Daje Johnson.
The video above shows the Baylor defense over-committing to the outside on all of Texas' scoring plays that followed that run. Texas was able to pick up 274 yards through the air and scored four of its final six touchdowns on red-zone runs up the gut.
In perhaps their most impressive passing game of the season, the Longhorns torched Iowa State for 387 passing yards, including a 61-yard touchdown pass to Mike Davis down the sideline. Texas ran the ball 45 times in this game, its third-highest total of the season, and scored two of its four touchdowns on short runs in the red zone.
The Longhorns were able to get the Cyclones off-balance from the first offensive play, which saw them run a trick pass that led to a 47-yard completion down the left side to Greg Daniels (beginning at the 31-second mark of the video).
Those two games perfectly showcase what Texas was able to do when running the ball effectively: capitalize on an anxious defensive front and accumulate more passing yards and short yardage scores.
The offensive chart on sports-reference.com gives a more cumulative analysis of Texas' efficiency when they run the ball more often.
Texas was 5-0 when carrying the ball at least 40 times in a game, and 7-1 when compiling at least 35 rushing attempts in a game. Texas averaged only 31.23 rushes per game in its four losses last season, noticeably lower than its 37.84 average per game for the season.
When taking these numbers into consideration, it should be no surprise that Texas' four losses were games in which it produced its four lowest rushing totals of the season. Texas averaged 171.5 rushing yards per game but only managed 98.5 per game in those losses.
The Longhorns played three games in 2012 that saw them turn the ball over more than once, including three against Oklahoma and Kansas State and four against TCU. In those games, Texas averaged only 28.67 carries and 86.3 rushing yards.
Running the ball effectively to the edge and taking advantage of an overanxious defense with long passes and a strong red-zone rushing attack is the formula for success for the Texas Longhorns.
With more carries, the Longhorns score more points, pass the ball more efficiently and turn the ball over less. They were No. 23 in the nation in points scored, and the run game was a big reason why.
The spread offense should open up a lot of running lanes for the Longhorns, which should play right into their key to success. But the sooner Mack Brown realizes how effective his team is when it looks for the running game early, the sooner Texas will return to prominence in college football.
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