Weekly Analysis: D.J. Monroe

If you've watched a Texas game this year, you've probably found yourself asking the question: What's wrong with getting the ball to D.J. Monroe?

The sophomore speedster represents arguably the most explosive player (and certainly most explosive runner) on the Texas roster, but after seven games, Monroe has just 12 carries. Ten of those carries came in back-to-back games against UCLA and Oklahoma, with Monroe rushing for a combined 116 yards in those games.

In this week's Weekly Analysis, we take a look at Monroe's carries … all 12 of them. To look at Monroe's consistency — because, let's face it, the former Class 4A state sprint champion can break a big play — we divided the runs into four categories. An explosive run is any run of 10 or more yards. A positive run is any run from 4-9 yards. A neutral run is a three-yard gain. And a negative run is any run of less than three yards.

Texas Tech: one carry, 14 yards (one explosive)

UCLA: six carries, 51 yards (two explosive, two positive, one neutral, one negative)

Oklahoma: four carries, 65 yards (one explosive, one positive, two negative)

Iowa State: one carry, 10 yards (one explosive)

Totals: 12 carries, 140 yards (five explosive, three positive, one neutral, three negative)

Monroe is averaging 11.7 yards per carry, and as you can see above, he has demonstrated a high level of consistency, as well as explosion. Eight of his 12 carries have gone for five or more yards, with five of those going for 10 or more. Contrast that to only three negative plays, with only one of those plays — a three-yard loss against Oklahoma — actually being a negative, and you have a consistent big-play threat who doesn't appear to provide a lot of risk.

Of course, it's worth noting that ball control could be an issue. Monroe and Gilbert botched a handoff against UCLA, with Gilbert taking "credit" for the fumble. Later in the game, Monroe booted a kickoff as well.

But both can be explained by one-time scenarios. On the handoff, it was Monroe's first game at running back. So a lack of chemistry between he and Gilbert would have been understandable at the time. Monroe has carried the ball several times since then, and has now had five weeks of practice at the position.

On the kickoff front, it's worth noting that one, receiving a kickoff isn't like carrying the ball out of the backfield and two, the staff's confidence wasn't dented in him there, as they have continued to trot him out at that position.

It might also be that Monroe is a liability in passing situations. Offensive coordinator Greg Davis has listed Monroe's ineffectiveness in those spots as a reason for limiting his on-field time. But on Monday, Davis himself admitted that Monroe was up-to-speed and could be used as a decoy in certain situations.

Hopefully, that will lead to more touches for one of the conference's fastest players. Counting his freshman year, Monroe has rushed 35 times in his Longhorn career, averaging 8.1 yards per carry.

Is it too much to hope that he'll start getting 5-10 carries per game?

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