Benson Big 12 Player Of Week; Ground Game Rolling

RB <B>Cedric Benson</B> was named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week following his three-touchdown, 174-yards on 28 carries performance in Texas' 31-7 win over Nebraska. But for head coach <B>Mack Brown</B>, the important thing is Texas is now running the ball effectively in the fourth quarter for the first time in recent memory.

"He controlled the game in the fourth quarter," Brown said during Monday's press luncheon, "If you can't run the ball in the fourth quarter in a ballgame that's tight, you're not ever going to win all the games and that's really key to me as a head coach. Nobody runs it great in the first quarter usually and, if you do, you're probably going to win the game big. I felt so good with the running game in the first quarter (against Nebraska) that I felt like it would pay huge dividends in the fourth quarter. Even though we weren't scoring enough, I kept telling our offensive linemen, ‘Don't get frustrated' after the (first quarter) blocked field goal. I told them, ‘We're cashing money for the fourth quarter. That's what we're doing. Let's score, but every hit you get right now with their defense on the field' -- they were having to rotate people early and we weren't -- I just felt like it would come back."

Brown was deeply disturbed last season after Texas failed to run the ball in the fourth quarter (or, at all, for that matter) against LSU and in final frame losses to Texas Tech and Oklahoma. The sixth-year coach reshuffled his offensive staff after the UT ground game finished a dismal No. 74 (135.5 ypg). This week, Texas' rushing offense is No. 9 nationally and is cruising to the tune of 221.6 ypg.

Of course, QB Vince Young has as much to do with that as does Benson. Then again, a quarterback's rushing stats count just as much.

"As long as you can keep them chasing your guys then most people don't have enough depth to play two-deep the whole game," Brown added.

The offense had a couple of three-and-outs in the third quarter but then adjusted to a more north-south strategy after Nebraska went to a heavy blitz package to shut down QB Young's zone read options. After Nebraska narrowed the margin to 17-7, Texas responded with seven straight Benson carries off of isolation plays including a 23-yard burst after he bounced outside the hash marks. Benson carried it over from the five with 7:29 remaining to put it out of reach at 24-7.

He wasn't done. Benson's 39-yard TD run on an outside zone play was his longest carry to cap the scoring at 31-7.

"It was 4th-and-four and we didn't want to kick the field goal at that point," Brown said, "and he takes the little dip inside like he used to and then he bounced outside. He showed really good speed and quickness for his 28th carry. I was really pleased with what I saw him do in the fourth quarter."

Benson has 672 yards on the season, or 84 ypg. However, Benson has averaged 155 yards in his past two starts. Young is Texas' leading rusher with 713 yards on 80 carries (that would be a league-leading 8.9 yards per carry, folks).


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