Culpepper: O Has Two Weeks To Answer Two Questions

While LSU got knocked out of the top five this weekend and Georgia will be the next to go (on either Oct. 2 versus LSU or Oct. 9 versus Tennessee), top five Texas has two weeks before its day of reckoning, an Oct. 9 date in Dallas with Oklahoma.

The Longhorns must address two things offensively before battling the Sooners:

1. Who can back up Cedric Benson? This is all-important. If Texas is to keep up its running game onslaught, it needs another back to enter the game to rest Benson and keep the pressure on the opposing defense. I'm talking about a hard, tough inside runner.

Since Selvin Young is gone and Erik Hardeman is sidelined indefinitely due to academics, Texas is left with true freshman Ramonce Taylor as the top back-up. His running versus North Texas was noteworthy but doesn't prove he can carry the inside running game load. (I'm not sure Young was the solution for Texas either.) Taylor long-jumped 25-0 3/4 as a high school junior, so the Horns have plenty of athlete in the Belton burner, but can he run amongst the big boys and fight for that extra yard?

Some way, some how, Ramonce must get the chance in these next two ball games to see if he is the answer to this back-up question.

2. Texas needs another wide receiver that will make the tough catch and block aggressively downfield (like senior Tony Jeffery). So far, no one has separated from the pack (Brian Carter, Eric Enard, Limas Sweed, Nate Jones, Tyrell Gatewood, etc.).

Until one or more of those guys step up, the UT offense would be most dangerous with two tight ends (David Thomas and Bo Scaife), Benson and fullback Will Matthews (wouldn't it be fun to see him aligned at tailback for a few snaps, which may happen in single back sets, according to Mack Brown) in the backfield and a single wide receiver (Jeffery). It is a throwback formation but it fits what Texas does the best and gets the Horns' best offensive weapons in the game at one time.

This weekend, although it may not mean much in terms of predicting future defensive efforts, it will also be interesting watching the Greg Robinson's defense face Ken Hatfield's triple option offense. Quarterback Greg Henderson needs to have all the buckles on his headgear strapped tight. But most of all, watch the two offensive areas I mentioned above in what I see as a Texas 35, Rice 6 (two field goals) ballgame.

Pat Culpepper played for The University from 1960-62 and graduated from UT with a B.A. degree with honors in history. He coached college football for 12 years as an assistant at Texas, Colorado, Tulane, Baylor and Memphis State and was head coach at Northern Illinois from 1976-79. He also spent 16 years as a high school coach in Texas at Midland, Lufkin, Galveston Ball, Westfield and his hometown of Cleburne. He was selected to the Longhorn Hall of Honor in 1991. His commentary will appear regularly in the Inside Texas magazine and at

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