One year ago, junior running back Joe Bergeron was considered one of Texas’ main offensive forces. Today, it’s rare to hear his name at all.
Although he was hyped up as being one of three strong running backs entering the year, Bergeron has yet to make his mark on this season. But the back is handling this newfound situation in the best way he can.
“Joe has handled it really well,” head coach Mack Brown said. “He’s not getting as many touches at running back [but] is taking all the energy, and he’s channeled all of that energy into things that will help our team.”
At this point in the season last year, Bergeron had 104 carries and 16 touchdowns. This year he has been given the ball only 31 times, tallying just two scores in eight games this season.
There have been many reasons for Bergeron’s diminished playing time, the biggest of which is the rise of running backs junior Malcolm Brown and sophomore Johnathan Gray. Brown and Gray have stepped into the role Bergeron was hoping for this season, recording 779 and 503 all-purpose yards respectively. The two have combined for 12 Texas touchdowns.
One of Bergeron’s most impressive features was his ability to pound the ball into the end zone in goal-line situations. But Brown has taken over the primary role Bergeron used to have.
“Malcolm is healthy and he’s playing at a very high level, and he and Johnathan both are really being productive right now,” Mack Brown said. “What we’ve got to do is continue to run the ball like we’re running it.”
Another problem for Bergeron is the fact that he has fumbled in many prominent situations. Against Iowa State, the junior fumbled in Longhorn territory, which led to a Cyclone score.
Nevertheless, Bergeron hasn’t let this reduced play turn negative. He has become a force on special teams, showing up on kickoff coverage, kickoff returns and even on the punt team.
“He’s on just about every special teams and he’s one of the best special teams players,” Mack Brown said. “These guys are really bought in right now. It’s a team that is really wanting to do anything it can do to help each other. They really believe in each other and there’s no griping and they all want to do whatever they can do to help us win.”