Applewhite Talks Injured Runners

Texas co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite has seen his running back group decimated by injuries.

First, Malcolm Brown suffered a turf toe injury. Then Joe Bergeron injured his hamstring. And finally, Fozzy Whittaker blew out his knee last week against Missouri. But while Whittaker's career at Texas is over, Applewhite said he would still play a major role with the team.

"Fozzy still means the same thing to me that he did before he was injured," Applewhite said. "He's just a great person. I know I am just 33 years old, but I have a feeling that when I'm older and coaching I am going to look back say, 'Man, he was special.' And he is. He's the kind of guy that graduates in three years [then] gets his masters. He's in church on Sundays. He's doing the right thing off the field. He's gathering up guys that he sees straying and bringing back in. He's coaching up the younger ones. He's selfless. He's just a great person. He's the type of person that you want in your business or on your team. You hear that a lot from coaches, but he really is a terrific person."

Whittaker's injury came as a devastating blow for a program trying to build around the running game.

"It's tough, but then you have to look around the country," Applewhiite said. "You see [South Carolina RB] Marcus Lattimore was down with an injury. [Georgia RB] Isaiah Crowell missed a game earlier this year with an injury. If you are a run team and you are going to feature guys, you're going to have some of that. You have to have two, three, four guys. I went up during the off-season to North Carolina and visited with their running backs coach and he started six different tailbacks last year.

"So when you're a run team and you're featuring it, those guys are going to get some bangs and bruises. Things like that are going to happen," Applewhite said. "I know around here, being a Texas player, a Texas fan, you get spoiled with a guy like Ricky [Williams] who is just an absolute workhorse, and he's just a rare guy that you see in football. Even guys like Cedric Benson have missed a game with shoulder [injuries]. It's just a part of football."

That "part of football" has left the Longhorns short on running options, though Applewhite said there were some things the team could do with Jeremy Hills, who was the team's primary ball-carrier a week ago.

"He has some perimeter speed," Applewhite said. "He can do some things on the outside for us. We had a couple things set up for him on the edge so he can do some things in the passing game for us by getting out there."

At the same time, the Longhorns may have to tap into some new, or old, options to play through this injured spell, he said.

"We have to rep a lot of guys at tailback throughout this stretch," Applewhite said. "We haven't had this type of circumstance as far as two off weeks early and then a six game stretch. What we've had to do is look at this three game stretch here and say that we are going to play three here in these last three weeks. A lot of guys who haven't typically played the full tailback role are getting some reps to make sure that we have all hands on deck."


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