Posted by Chip Patterson
Even without many of the faces that took them to the national championship game a season ago, the Texas Longhorns are starting to creep back into the title hunt. They received a first-place vote in the AP Poll, and have been bumped all the way to No. 4 in the Coaches Poll. Texas Tech gave Texas a scare on Saturday, but the Longhorns relied on some rock solid defense to escape with a 24-14 win.
The Longhorns were able to escape Lubbock with a victory on Saturday evening, but it was not without cost. With running back Tre Newton re-injuring his hip against the Red Raiders, the Longhorns are being forced to go deep into their depth chart, and possibly burn redshirts, to get healthy running backs out on the field.
Tre Newton aggravated his hip-pointer against Texas Tech, and isn’t 100 percent. Fozzy Whittaker has a hurt shoulder and Cody Johnson still isn’t 100 percent after spraining his ankle in the season opener against Rice.
During the Tech game, Mack Brown told reserve back Jeremy Hills — who has asked to be redshirted — to get ready in case he was needed.The Longhorns also know they’ll have to discuss using some of their freshmen tailbacks, or possibly looking at D.J. Monroe, Brown said.Statistically, the three back system of Newton, Whitaker, and Johnson has worked so far. The trio has combined for 405 yards and 7 touchdowns in the first three games. But with there be no clear front-runner for the most healthy and/or able, Mack Brown and offensive coordinator Greg Davis are forced to develop a strategy to bring their running backs to 100 percent health without sacrificing production.
The Longhorns host UCLA, ranked 80th among FBS teams in points allowed, on Saturday. It would not be surprising to see some of D.J. Monroe against the Bruins, a decision that would please much of the Texas fan base. Regardless, arguably the most important game of the Longhorns' season is just two weeks away with the No. 8 Oklahoma Sooners awaiting them in the 106th playing of the Red River Rivalry. They will need as much from their running backs as they can get, needing that win to claim the drivers seat of the Big 12 South.
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