The second leading rusher for the Longhorns isn't a rusher at all. It's quarterback Colt McCoy. But as the toughest stretch in the Texas schedule gets underway, is that a good thing or a recipe for disaster?

Questions about the effectiveness of the running game have dogged Texas all season and there was even talk of moving Jamaal Charles out of the starting running back spot. Well, on Saturday against the Nebraska Cornhuskers, Charles cemented his hold as the Longhorn's top back with a 290-yard explosion. The speedster from Port Arthur leads the Big 12 Conference in rushing with 1012 yards on 175 attempts (5.8 ypc) and is showing flashes of the dominant back that he can be.

But as for the team's second leading rusher? That raises some issues.

No. 2 on the team in rushing yards is quarterback Colt McCoy with 227. One of the reasons this is cause for concern is that these 227 yards are not necessarily by the design of the Texas coaching staff. Over two games, Iowa State and Baylor, McCoy had almost the exact same number of rushing yards as Charles, the aforementioned "dominant back" (100 for Charles, 94 for McCoy). This came immediately after a game against Oklahoma where Charles' ability to step up in the clutch was questioned. That meant more of the pressure to get yards on the ground fell on McCoy's already burdened shoulders, shoulders which house a neck that has been twice injured.

But Texas head coach Mack Brown said he likes the element that his quarterback is bringing to the run game.

"We like the fact that's he's running so much better than he was before and that is something we think we can utilize more," said Brown. "That's what we'll look forward to continuing to see from Colt in the future."

With the frequency that Texas uses the Zone Read, it helps to have a quarterback that can run the ball on designed plays. But the Longhorns are also 51th in the nation in sacks given up this season and many of those runs have not exactly been designed plays, but rather mad dashes.

So, is that utilization of McCoy's abilities a key weapon for the Longhorn's offensive attack or a sign that the boy is running for his life? Brown said that the scrambling should not necessarily be seen as a bad thing and is an important part of the equation because it keeps defenses honest, even on passes. He even used the V-word when talking about McCoy's running abilities.

"He's really getting a presence about where that line of scrimmage is and we've talked a lot about Vince plays. When Vince got really good, he could threaten the run and when he came out of the secondary he would throw the ball downfield and Colt is getting that feel now."

McCoy agreed that he's using his scrambles to create openings in the passing game.

"Sometimes the pocket breaks. I saw a few holes and I made a few yards and helped us out offensively a little bit. I was still looking to pass," said McCoy.

Unfortunately for the sophomore QB, that pocket has been breaking more often than Texas would like. The Horns are 51st in the country in sacks given up this season. It didn't help matters that Nebraska decided to switch things up and blitz at an exceptionally higher rate than normal. But McCoy said if the second level is going to open up and give him the run, he'll gladly take it.

"Well, I was tired after the game on Saturday," said McCoy. "That was what was there. They were giving that to us a little bit and I just tried to do what was best for the team and keep the chains moving."

The result? Another day where McCoy is picking up a lot of yards on the ground, 55 to be exact, on his 11 carries. Not nearly close to his compatriot's 290, but still seemingly outside what you'd expect from him, at least heading into this season.

"The thing that's happening with Colt is that he's running so much better. He's scrambling and he's making plays with his feet better," said Brown. "He handled the pressure of Nebraska better than he handled the pressure of Kansas State. He didn't let it beat him down and get to him. He kept fighting back and ended up stronger in the fourth quarter than he was in the first."

Running may seem a bit out of the ordinary for the quarterback, but McCoy said he's fighting and doing every little thing he has to do to win and if that's run, then so be it. It's just indicative of what the season has been like for the 2007 Texas Longhorns.

"Nothing this season has come easy for us," said McCoy, "and that just shows the character and determination on this team. Never give up, always fight and find a way to win."

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