Taylor, Charles Listed As 1-2 On Depth Chart

Heading into the Big 12 Championship Game, Texas is healthier at RB than at any time this season, head coach Mack Brown said Tuesday. Even so, this week's depth chart says Ramonce Taylor will log his fourth straight start in the backfield while Jamaal Charles, the league's Offensive Freshman of the Year and leading rusher among RBs, is listed as his backup.

Taylor's move from WR to RB at Baylor earlier this month was considered an ad hoc measure, allowing Charles and Selvin Young to mend from nagging ankle injuries. Yet the sophomore, who was the starting RB throughout spring drills, has run for 303 yards and seven rushing TDs on 44 carries the past three games. That translates into 6.8 ypc.

"RT only carried it one time the first time we played Colorado," Brown said. "That just shows you the diversity we have at running back."

RT is the fastest player (4.23) that Brown has ever coached, yet coaches are trying to impress upon the sophomore this week that he needs to run north-south instead of "dancing around" behind the LOS. If healthy, Charles' combination of power and speed makes him prototypical of the type of back that Brown likes to feature in his offense. Yet, Charles' disappearing act against A&M (five carries for 10 yards) had led many to ask if he has re-injured his ankle or if he is in Brown's dog house following his fumble at A&M.

"Jamaal got banged up a little bit Friday but I think he's going to be fine," Brown told me. "We're probably in the best shape we've been in at running back all season going into this Saturday."

Specifically, Charles had some tightening in his ankle but the bigger problem was that he injured a hand ("badly" according to Brown) on the quarterback draw play prior to his fumble. At the same time, what we've seen this season with Texas' tailback-by-committee approach is that the rumbling RB with the "hot hand" gets the snaps; the fumbling RB with the butterfingers gets the sideline.

"We felt like it (A&M game) was a day when things didn’t seem to be working well for (Charles) and, for Ramonce, it was," was the way Brown put it.

Charles is Texas' second-leading rusher with 782 yards (just nine yards behind Vince Young) on 107 carries. He averages 7.3 ypc and has nine touchdowns. Yet, it's been a tale of two seasons for the freshman. He began his career with the fastest start in program history, posting 563 yards on 64 carries (8.79 ypc) during the first five ballgames. But since twisting his ankle against Oklahoma, Charles has slowed to 219 yards on 43 totes (5.09 ypc).

"We'll have to figure out a plan going in Saturday and we'll have to manage it like we did last Friday and see who has the hot hand," Brown said. "The guys sure understand, at this point, that it's not about individuals. It's about the team and they'll do whatever we want them to do to win the game."

Selvin Young, who has four starts under his belt including Texas' 42-17 win over Colorado on October 15, is currently slated as the No. 3 RB alongside freshman Henry Melton. Young was limited to five yards on three attempts against the Aggies. He trails VY and the other three RBs with 374 yards in nine games this season.

"Selvin looked really good in practice and he'll be so excited about going back to Houston," Brown said. "He looks like he's 100 percent for the first time all year. He was not totally honest with us early in the season when he told us he was well, and he was guarded with his running."

Meanwhile, the H-Train has rumbled as of late. The short-yardage back has run for 167 yards and two TDs on 23 carries (7.26 ypc) during the past three outings. Melton has 398 yards on 74 rushes this year.

"Henry has improved enough to where he can play earlier in the ballgame than he has," Brown noted.

Other than health, Brown knows the best thing Texas has going for it at RB is healthy competition. No Longhorn RB has started more than three consecutive games this season.

"The best thing that we did this year was quit talking about starters and to break down some of that individualism," Brown said. "We could start Jamaal, Selvin or RT and be fine with all three. Those guys have accepted those roles, and that's a very difficult thing to do when you're at a high-profile place like this and when you're with players that are as highly recruited as ours are. I give them credit for buying into it."

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