Texas' Run Game Is Mack Brown's Only Hope vs. Oklahoma with David Ash Sidelined

Ben Kercheval@@BenKerchevalCollege Football Lead WriterOctober 5, 2013

Oct 3, 2013; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones safety Deon Broomfield (26) and cornerback Jansen Watson (2) chase Texas Longhorn running back Johnathan Gray (32) into the end zone at Jack Trice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sport

The head injury to Texas quarterback Davis Ash is looking more serious with each passing week.

On Saturday, the university announced that the junior would miss his second straight game with "lingering effects" from the head injury he initially suffered against BYU last month. 

As a result, Case McCoy will start on Oct. 12 against Oklahoma. 

First and foremost, you have to be concerned about Ash. The Red River Rivalry is a week away, and Texas is already making the call that he's out. Recall that Ash was not at the Ole Miss game in Austin last month on the recommendation that he avoid light and loud noises.

Clearly, Ash is struggling and this is the right call to keep him out until he's fully recovered. When that will be is anyone's guess right now. 

But it doesn't bode well for the Longhorns heading into the OU game. Texas coaches exhibited a strange confidence in McCoy's passing ability in Thursday's win over Iowa State, and it nearly cost them. Even more bizarre was the postgame explanation from Mack Brown and co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite that the run game wasn't working, when in fact it was working just fine. 

Oct 3, 2013; Ames, IA, USA;  Texas Longhorns tight end Geoff Swarm (82) and guard Sedrick Flowers (66) celebrate the game winning touch down by Case McCoy against the Iowa State Cyclones at Jack Trice Stadium. Texas beat Iowa State 31-30.   Mandatory Cred
Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sport

It'll be interesting to see how Texas coaches handle the quarterback situation against the Sooners. Freshman Tyrone Swoopes has been serving as McCoy's backup but has yet to see any playing time while the discussion continues as to whether to burn his redshirt.

It's not clear at this present moment what Longhorn coaches will do with Swoopes. If the Iowa State game is any indication, they'll stick with McCoy no matter what. 

That's not necessarily a bad move. Swoopes is physically gifted and impressed during the Longhorns' spring game, but the fact is, he's an unproven player. McCoy, for all of his inconsistent play, has led a few game-winning drives in his day. 

But Texas can minimize McCoy's inconsistencies if the game plan revolves around an effective running game. There was simply no need for McCoy to throw 45 times as he did Thursday against the Cyclones.

With running backs Johnathan Gray, Joe Bergeron and Malcolm Brown, there's plenty of capable talent ready to carry the rock. 

A good running game doesn't mean Applewhite can't be creative, either. Get Daje Johnson or Jaxon Shipley involved. There are a lot of ways to be explosive in the running game, and Oklahoma showed some big-play vulnerability in that area in Week 5 against Notre Dame.

Conversely, the Sooners have a lot of speed on defense, and McCoy doesn't have the strongest arm. Before Thursday night, Texas was 1-6 when McCoy threw more than 16 passes. There are probably more than a few people right now who believe the 'Horns should be 1-7. 

Beating Oklahoma s going to require Texas to play the best game of the season in all three facets in order to win. On offense, that means UT will have to rely on its run game to set up the pass.