It was worth the wait.
After not carrying the ball in a game for more than six quarters — a span of three weeks — Joe Bergeron exploded for 136 yards against Kansas on Saturday. The freshman tailback averaged 10.5 yards per rush and scored twice in the Longhorns’ rout.
Bergeron, who’s been in the shadow of the other Texas backs for six games, shined against the Jayhawks in the second half. He entered the game with just 18 carries for 87 yards and rushed for 78 yards in the fourth quarter alone.
He hadn’t touched the ball since the final minutes of the Oklahoma game on Oct. 8, but the lack of carries wasn’t a problem against KU.
“I didn’t really let it get to me,” Bergeron said. “Just getting a lot of mental reps, waiting my turn, waiting for my number to be called. And when they did, I showed what I had.”
What he displayed was a bruising running style that will serve the Longhorns well over the next few weeks.
The freshman ran through, over and around the Jayhawks, making a defense that’s ranked second-to-last in the nation against the run look even more hapless. Bergeron pinballed his way for 35-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, the second of his career.
“He did a nice job of setting the play up and getting vertical,” said Bryan Harsin, the Longhorns play-caller. “I thought he finished the run well. Just his mentality, the way he ran and watching him out there, he was running with a purpose. That’s what we want. When there was a crease, we weren’t dancing around.”
The 6-foot-1, 230 lb. Mesquite, Texas, product didn’t waste any time when his number was called. He broke free for a 21-yard gain on his second rush. On the next play, he scored from four yards out to put Texas ahead, 33-0. Bergeron also had a 21-yard score called back because of a holding penalty.
The Longhorns rushed for 441 yards on the night, prompting head coach Mack Brown to call it the most physical game he’s seen his team play in a long time. Bergeron was no exception.
“I knew we were going to come out and dominate,” he said.
The Longhorns running attack didn’t skip a beat in the second half once Bergeron replaced fellow freshman Malcolm Brown, who rushed for 119 yards and two touchdowns.
“Joe was doing great,” said Malcolm Brown, who leads Texas with 635 rushing yards. “Joe did a real good job. Nothing really slowed down when he got into the game.”
The two are the first pair of freshman to each rush for more than 100 yards in the same game in school history.
“We’re a one-two punch,” Bergeron said.
Bergeron benefitted from a dominating performance from the offensive line, which was bolstered by Luke Poehlmann, a backup tackle who often lined up at tight end.
The coaches decided to move the 6-foot-7-inch, 295-pound junior out on the edge during the bye week.
“It worked out well,” Harsin said. “Just having him out there is an opportunity to get another big body on the edge. He set the edge. He got us out there on the perimeter by just being physical.”
Bergeron will have another opportunity for a big game this week against a Texas Tech defense that ranks No. 114 nationally against the run.\
Printed on Monday, October 31, 2011 as: Bergeron gets his chance and runs with it