Brown Talks About Ground Game

Three things can happen when you run the ball, and two of them are bad.

Well, it hasn’t quite come to that at the Forty Acres, but the Longhorn ground game is generating just 135.9 yards per outing to rank No. 71 nationally. Comparatively, the much-ridiculed Texas A&M offense that saw it’s coordinator demoted last month is producing 133 rushing yards per game (NCAA No. 75).

While concurring there is room for improvement, head coach Mack Brown is quick to defend his offense. People outside of the team (fans & media) are too myopic in dispensing criticism instead of giving credit where credit is due, according to Brown.

"We’re not turning the ball over, and we’re scoring in the red zone," Brown said. "We’re not getting any credit for the things we’re doing well. We’re getting a lot of criticism for stats that are probably not real important. We didn’t even get credit when we have big stats, so this is a hard place for an offense."

The problem has nothing to do with personnel or with scheme, Brown said. Instead, it boils down to breakdowns with "one play here, one player there" that has kept the ground game from getting consistently untracked, Brown said.

"We didn’t run the ball very well (at KSU), but we ran it well enough at times," Brown said. "We’re just not making any big plays in the running game, so we’re not being as consistent as we need to be."

Brown added: "We’re sure not giving up on our running game, but we’ve got to get more third-and-short situations. We’ve had too many third-and-longs right now. Our (KSU game) plan was to protect well enough because we could run the ball and take some deep shots in situations, especially with the wind.

"Most of the time against OU and Kansas State, you’re not going to run up and down the field. We’ve just run into the best defenses in the country two weeks in a row. Usually, good defenses win."

The usual suspects for the sluggish ground game have been the offensive line (three new starters this season, and RG Beau Baker is listed as 'doubtful' for the Iowa State game) and offensive coordinator Greg Davis’ game plan.

"They’re (offensive line) doing pretty well," Brown said. "I thought they’ve done a good job the past two weeks. It hasn’t been noticed as much but we’re protecting much better. We’re just not making the long runs, and that’s what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to figure out why we’re not making them, and start making them."

Brown was asked to what extent he might pull rank on Davis during games. Generally speaking, Brown will only make suggestions.

"What I get involved with, on both sides of the ball, is the game plan more than the play selection," Brown said. "I think it's hard during the game. In some games I may say if we’re not completing any passes, run the ball. I thought what we did (Saturday) was what we needed to do to win the game. I thought the game was very similar to last year’s Texas A&M game. It’s a game where they weren’t moving it, and there was a lot of wind, and you had to pick your shots. You just weren’t going to move the ball up and down the field against either team."

Is Davis’ game plan too conservative against high profile teams?

"Conservative is a weird word," Brown said. "I guess when you don’t score 50 points around here, it’s conservative. We were ‘conservative’ last year against Oklahoma, and you all said we threw it 42 times. So I get confused."

There is little confusion that Davis has become the primary target among fans who are exacerbated with the offensive production this season. The coordinator has been the subject of a website, titled, that a UT alumnus created two days after the Oklahoma loss. Within 48 hours, the site reportedly received more than 15,000 hits.

"Honestly, what we’ve learned here is we pay no attention to the news reports or the fans," Brown said. "So we go to work, and try to study, and see what we can do to be better the next week. That’s what you have to do at Texas. You don’t want to get into who likes you and who doesn’t like you. It’s very unimportant here."

RB Cedric Benson was a relative non-factor against Oklahoma (54 yards on 22 carries) and didn’t fair much better against KSU (59 yards on 23 carries). He was also held to less than 100 yards against Tulane and North Texas. Currently, the sophomore who exploded onto the scene at this time last year, is averaging 105 yards per game (NCAA No. 27; Big 12 No. 3).

"Cedric is working and really trying hard to do everything that he needs to," Brown said.

Benson told Austin media last week that he is exhausted after playing minor league baseball during the summer.

"Baseball is hard, and it’s really draining in kids," Brown said. "But I haven’t seen anything different from him at all. We haven’t talked about anything different. I think we just need to make more plays. Not just him but as an offense."

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