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A look at the Texas RBs in Sterlin Gilbert's offense


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Article via Mike Roach


Sterlin Gilbert’s offense is often thought of as a high flying pass attack, but one look at the many names it goes by tells you how important the run game is. Whether you refer to it as the power spread, the inverted veer or the run and shoot, the run game element is what makes it a complete offense. Don’t forget that Sterlin Gilbert learned his craft from Art Briles, and the Baylor offense averaged 5.9 yards per carry and 326 yards per game last season. Those totals were good for third in the nation last season in total yards, and second in average yards per game. Fortunately for the Longhorns, the running back position is as talented as it is deep. While the run game can be schemed against if the pass isn’t effective, the strength of the Texas offense will be the strong stable of running backs on campus.

The Texas rushing attack will be led by D’Onta Foreman. The junior from Texas City turned into an absolute star last season before an injury derailed his progress. Foreman averaged 7.1 yards per carry and racked up 672 total yards on less than 100 carries. Foreman’s size and impressive speed coupled with his tenacious running style have him primed for a huge year. The new offense will undoubtedly suit his abilities, as Foreman will now have the opportunity to get up field quicker and explode through the gaps in a power run scheme. With Johnathan Gray lost to graduation, Foreman has the spotlight now. Reports from spring practice have Foreman performing on another level, and if he can stay healthy he might have a chance to topple the thousand yard mark. In D’Onta Foreman, Texas has a player with big-play ability and the size to get the tough yards.

Foreman will be joined by sophomore runner Chris Warren, who had some breakout games following Foreman’s injury. Warren gained 470 yards on 71 carries in his debut season including a 276 yard rushing performance against Texas Tech. He followed that up with an impressive game against Baylor in which he tallied 106 yards on the ground. Warren entered spring practice around 245 pounds, and his bruising running style should make for a nice combination with Foreman. Like Foreman, Warren will benefit from the new offense and downhill running scheme. Warren showed great tackle breaking ability in the open field last season, but he struggled to reach the edge when he was moving laterally in the zone run look. Warren enters this season hoping to prove that the end of 2015 wasn’t just a fluke.

Lost in all the hype around Foreman and Warren were the flashes of greatness Kirk Johnson showed in his limited action. Johnson was able to slash defenses and create big gains before he was lost to a leg injury during the Texas Tech game. Snaps will be difficult to come by, but Johnson provides Texas with a change of pace type that they otherwise don’t have on the roster.

Johnson will have to fend off incoming freshman Kyle Porter for third team snaps. Porter is more of an all-around back, and the Army All-American was prolific in his time at Katy high school. Porter is more like Foreman and Warren in that he excels at running downhill and using his power and quickness. The Texas staff made Porter a priority throughout last season because they think he can contribute early. Porter is also a weapon in the passing game, so he can be deployed in a multitude of packages.

Roderick Bernard and Tristian Houston are hoping to find a role for themselves in a crowded backfield. Bernard is a converted receiver with big time speed. His scat back build makes him a bit of a specialist for use in the slot or on returns. Tristian Houston redshirted last season, and it’s unclear what skillset he brings to the table to set himself apart. His high school film showed a guy that could do a little bit of everything, but he will have tough sledding to make his way up the depth chart.


Texas fans haven't had many positives to talk about for the past few seasons, but the running back position is a tremendous plus for this Texas team. The current group ranks in the top half in the nation as far as depth and talent go, and the Longhorns will need to lean on that ability to get the most out of their offense. A successful run game opens up more looks in the passing game, and this crew can definitely do their part to speed along the quarterback progression in Austin.

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If we can have good QB play this year, always back to the QB then we can have one of the top backfields in the country. Chris Warren has the physical ability to be a future Heisman contender. I agree that either Johnson or Porter need to step up to have a different type of running back as a change of pace. I haven't read anything about how Houston is doing.

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