Run D Stout, But Is O 'Taylor' Made For Tweaks?

Texas' defense is surging, in part, because its punishing, ball-control ground game is keeping opponents off the field. But Longhorn coaches are now asking if the rushing offense can be even more prolific if freshman backup RB Ramonce Taylor got more snaps.

Of course, you don't want to take RB Cedric Benson out of the backfield. His 162.1 ypg is rated second nationally this week but Taylor has shown the kind of explosiveness that can complement Benson's pounding, slashing style. Taylor rushed for 84 yards on 11 carries

"Ramonce is getting better every week," head coach Mack Brown said Sunday, "and his ball protection is so much better now than it was at the first of the year. We do feel like we can put him in the game more. He had two or three key plays yesterday (against Colorado) and we think, at the end here, he can help us a lot more."

Taylor picked up ten yards on a second quarter option play, reaching the CU 25 while the game was still very much undecided. Then, late in the third quarter, Taylor reversed field on another option toss and raced 36 yards to the Buffalo 32. It was the longest run from scrimmage during Texas' 31-7 win in Boulder and led to Dusty Mangum's 33-yard FG to complete the scoring.

"It (10-yard run) was a huge play for a first down when the game was on the line," Brown said. "Again, in the third quarter, he made a 33-yard run on an option when Cedric came out. He made two key plays yesterday. We are looking at ways we can use him more. He has really, really improved since the first of the year."

Prior to his season-ending ankle injury, junior RB Selvin Young was designated as Texas' third down back plus top returner on punts and kicks. Taylor displays similar burst and has been working on kick-off returns "a whole lot", Brown said, before adding, "We've worked him some on punts but the guys we've got are doing a pretty good job."

Texas held the Colorado defense to three yards on 18 attempts while the Longhorn D was only on the field for 16 snaps during the first half Saturday.

"That keeps you fresh and we're playing a lot of people," Brown said. "Our 'team' theme is working really well right now. One side of the ball is really helping the other. When you're running the ball as well as we're running it and we're making adjustments in the running game people don't notice it. But the offense, defense and the kicking game have been all playing together well the past two weeks."

The defense also maintains fresh legs "because we've forced some three-and-outs and forced some turnovers." Longhorn defenders forced six punts and collected three turnovers (two INT, one fumble recovery) in a game where Colorado took just 55 snaps from scrimmage, 26 fewer plays than the Horns.

The litmus test for an improving run defense will be Oklahoma State's Vernand Morency, whose 155.7 ypg rankes fifth nationally. The Horns return home after a two-game road swing to face the nationally ranked Cowboys at DKR.

"This week will be a huge week for our defense because the last time we had a game against such a powerful running attack was Oklahoma," Brown said. "Oklahoma State is running the same way so this will be the most challenging game for our defense from a physical standpoint since we played Oklahoma. It will be fun to prepare for such a great running attack and see if we've improved as much against the run, which is what we do, as we hope we have."





1. Jamario Thomas North Texas 192 173.5

2. Cedric Benson Texas 219 162.1

3. Adrian Peterson OU 210 159.0

4. J.J. Arrington Cal 158 158.0

5. Vernand Morency Ok. State 207 155.7

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