At this point in the season, it’s safe to say that the Texas Longhorn’s offense is one-dimensional.
Against the Oklahoma State Cowboys, Texas was unable to generate any movement on the ground, rushing the ball 33 times for 43 yards as the Cowboys went on to win 13-10 in double overtime.
This, however, is not an isolated problem, but a trend as the Texas offense has struggled throughout the entire season.
In back-to-back games against Oklahoma and Kansas State, Texas leaned heavily on the quarterback run game to generate offense. Freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger was the team’s leading rusher in both contests, with 22 and 20 attempts in each of those matchups, respectively. In those same contests, the top-producing running back was Chris Warren III, with a combined nine carries and 36 yards.
In fact, save for Iowa State and San Jose State, the quarterback has finished with significantly more carries than the team’s top-producing running back. This is a calling card for offensive coordinator Tim Beck.
A year ago, when Beck was the Ohio State offensive coordinator, quarterback J.T. Barrett led the team in carries with 205, including seven games with 15 or more attempts. Barrett finished his junior campaign with 845 yards and nine touchdowns.
Ehlinger has not found the same success on the ground as Beck’s last starting quarterback, but such can be expected.
In his five games as the starter, four of which he led the team in attempts, Ehlinger rushed 84 times for 382 yards for an average of 3.15 yards per carry, although this statistic also factors in sacks. Ehlinger has flashed the athleticism that earned him the No. 4 spot among dual-threat quarterbacks as a recruit, but inconsistency and poor play by a depleted offensive line has hampered the running game no matter who has the ball in their hands.
The offensive line has struggled mightily this season, with injuries forcing inexperienced players into the rotation. All-American left tackle Connor Williams was sidelined after after going down on the first play of the second quarter against USC and Patrick Hudson went down a week earlier against San Jose state, while all-purpose lineman Elijah Rodriguez has yet to see the field in 2017.
Texas is three scores away from a 6-1 record this season, as the total margin of victory in its last three losses is a cumulative 11 points. As Texas heads into the final five games of its season carrying a 3-4 record, it’s clear that righting the ship offensively must be the top priority in an attempt at bowl eligibility.
With a rag-tag offensive line and nearly non-existent running game behind it, that task is much easier said than done, though.