There's a new starting tailback on the 40 Acres

Heading into this season, a lot of people expected a new tailback starter after the first few games. Wednesday, <B>Mack Brown</B> confirmed that those expectations have come to pass.

The guy taking over the starting job, though, isn't the one most would have thought.

"Ivan has played the best," the Texas head coach said Wednesday of Ivan Williams, his 245-pound bulldozer of a tailback. "We'll look again tomorrow but if we played today, Ivan would be the starter." Brown also said the coaches are "adjusting the rotation," so Cedric Benson's role could also change come Sept. 22 in Houston.

"Ivan's got all three phases of the game -- running, pass blocking and pass receiving," QB Chris Simms said Wednesday.

Williams rushed 15 times for 64 yards vs. New Mexico State and 10 times for 75 yards vs. North Carolina. The sophomore also caught a seven-yard pass in the opener. Ivan's rushing total of 139 yards represents a 5.6-yard per carry average, far better than either Benson (91 yards on 24 carries for an average of 3.8 per) or Victor Ike (73 yards on 20 carries for an average of 3.7 per).

With Williams moving into the No. 1 tailback role, the coaches are taking a look at Ervis Hill at kick returner to replace Williams on the kick return team. Brown said Wednesday that Hill has done "really well" so far this week at the spot. "We'll talk about using him and we're definitely considering it," the coach said. "He's the guy other than Ivan that we'd put back there." Ike is a mainstay on the return team after averaging 24.8 yards per return during the regular season last year (as well as taking one back the distance in the Holiday Bowl) and returning two for an outstanding 34-yard average so far this year.

Notes: "O.J. (McClintock) was OK today," Brown said of the just-returned DE's practice performance. "Yesterday he practiced really well. Today was just OK." Right now, McClintock has what can best be described as a huge tape ball on his right hand, so he's unable to use his fingers and he can't set up in his normal right-hand-on-the-ground three-point stance. If Texas played today, O.J. would not be able to participate but he may be ready by the Houston game. "Doctors want to watch him this week and make sure he feels comfortable," Brown said. "He's in good shape and he's strong."


Horns Digest Top Stories