Applewhite Likes RB Group

Applewhite Likes RB Group

The running back position has emerged as one of the Longhorns' deepest and most talented spots.

And that's perfectly OK with running backs coach and co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite.

"There's so much that we're doing with the backs," Applewhite said. "With D.J. [Monroe], with Cody [Johnson], with Fozzy [Whittaker], with Joe [Bergeron], with Malcolm [Brown] - there's so much there. We've talked to those guys, and you're not really having to sell them on it because they can conceive and understand it themselves, that if [they're] are fresh throughout the course of the game, we're a better football team. So if you can take his carry and give him a rest, then that helps us. So we can stay fresh throughout four quarters."

So just how does the staff make those decisions?

"There's a lot of different factors, starting off number one with packages," Applewhite said. "Certain packages call for specific players. You may have a guy, like Joe, who has a hot hand but then all of a sudden you call some kind of sweep that involves D.J. or Fozzy, or Marquise [Goodwin]. So all of a sudden he's got to come out. So that'll hinder you there from a package standpoint.

"Also, you've got to deal with a hot hand," Applewhite said. "A guy who's running the ball extremely well, you want to keep him in the flow of things. You start to see certain guys and understand when they're getting tired and you need to swap them out. So all those things come into play when you're rotating guys."

The hot hand this past week was Bergeron, who pounded Kansas away in the fourth quarter. So Applewhite was asked whether Bergeron could see more carries earlier in the game.

"Absolutely. You can do it different ways," Applewhite said. "You don't want to mess around too much because what we've done has worked. But you can spell those guys in the first half, and keep them fresher throughout the course of the game. Instead of running the guy until he's completely done in the middle of the third quarter and then putting in the new guy. You can rotate them through the first half. You've just got to throw the line with that and not disrupt the flow."

And all that running back depth comes despite the move of last season's leading rusher, Johnson, making a permanent move to fullback. Yet after some early struggles, Johnson had some on and had a huge game paving the way last Saturday.

"He did a great job Saturday," Applewhite said. "There were a couple of plays. Obviously the holding, he was just out in the open field so you can't do that. But he did a really good job. We ran a version of power 25 times or more in that game. He's a lead blocker on that play and did a phenomenal job. He just needs to understand you can't accept good. Great is available. Keep going. Keep going. Keep going. And get better. And he is."

That the running game will face a Texas Tech team that has struggled to stop the run is of no mind to Applewhite, who said the Longhorns looked at opposing teams as "nameless, faceless opponents."

"We know that Texas Tech is a good football team," Applewhite said. "We don't pay attention to numbers. Those are always skewed. You can make of them what you want. They're capable of playing great defense. They didn't have a defense when we went out and played them in 2008 and they played phenomenal that night. So, you just don't pay attention to the numbers. You go play the opponent."

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