The man behind center is always going to be the one under the most scrutiny, the one who gets the most credit for wins and the most blame for losses.
Johnathan Gray has been great in spurts, Joe Bergeron has proven to be effective in short-yardage situations and Daje Johnson is a threat to score every time he touches the ball. But the missing piece to Texas’ offense is an every-down tailback that can move the chains on 3rd-and-1 one play and reel off a 30-yard touchdown run on the next.
So why did Malcolm Brown’s sure hands not touch the ball once in the Longhorns’ loss to TCU last week?
“We’ve got to get Malcolm Back in the mix,” co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin said. “It’s nothing against Malcolm, it’s just getting him back in there. Johnathan and Joe continue to play at a high level. They’re doing a nice job. But you don’t want to spread it too think to where no one gets enough reps in the game and no one gets into a rhythm.”
Brown, who missed five games with a left ankle injury, has gotten 10 carries in two games this year, the victories over Wyoming and Ole Miss. He rushed for 100 yards and at least one touchdown in each of those contests. If there’s anyone that Harsin should be worried about getting in a rhythm, it should be Brown.
“We didn’t run it much the other night,” head coach Mack Brown said of Texas’ 20-13 loss to TCU this Thanksgiving. “It wasn’t a running game night. I wish it would have been. But when you’re not balanced against a running defense that’s holding people to 98 yards and you can’t throw it — we were inept throwing it, we dropped about five or six passes — so it took away our ability to run it late.”
Texas’ quarterback situation is a dire one. The fact that senior punter Alex King could serve as the team’s backup quarterback if David Ash, who is listed as questionable with a rib injury, doesn’t play says it all.
Ash committed three turnovers in the first half against TCU while McCoy tossed an interception that sealed the Horned Frogs’ victory in the disappointing loss on Thanksgiving. Texas averaged a season-low 2.6 yards per carry in the defeat, a number that has to improve in its regular season finale if it wants to upset Kansas State.
“You have to be able to run the ball against any team, especially against good teams,” junior guard Mason Walters said. “If you can do that, it gives you a chance to win the game. It takes them out of their offense and Kansas State has a really good offense. Being able to stay on the field, being able to run the ball are going to be key things.”
Harsin and Brown can talk all they want about why Malcolm Brown didn’t get the ball much against TCU and why he needs to get it more against Kansas State. But they’re the ones making decisions on game day.
So decide to get Malcolm Brown the ball.