Seemingly as soon as it began, highly touted Texas Longhorns true freshman running back Keaontay Ingram’s collegiate debut was in the rearview.
Six quick carries and one was catch was the extent of the action Ingram enjoyed before his day effectively ended ahead of halftime, but the former Under Armour All-American’s limited touches provided plenty to talk about.
After springing free for an 18-yard scamper, which marked the Longhorns longest run of the afternoon, Ingram tallied his first career touchdown the following play, displaying the vision and shiftiness that helped him earn recognition as the sixth-best running back in his class.
1st career td for Keaontay Ingram ✅ pic.twitter.com/nJe1Tietqa— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) September 1, 2018
Had there been more green grass ahead of him, Ingram’s five-yard touchdown to pull Texas within 10 points could have quite easily become a headline-grabbing gain, yet only two more carries followed the above-noted touchdown — an option play in which Ingram picked up eight yards, and a quick two-yard carry to move the chains the following play.
With Ingram observing from the sidelines throughout the second half, Tre Watson, Daniel Young, and Kyle Porter collectively totaled 44 yards on 11 carries. During his Monday morning press conference, Texas head coach Tom Herman addressed why Ingram wasn’t involved after halftime, crediting the choice to side with veteran experience following a lengthy rain delay.
“I think you’ll continue to see his role progress and increase,” Herman said of Ingram. “There’s no doubt in my mind. I think in a close game, on the road, after an hour-long rain delay, I made the call.
“I said, you know, we need to -- we need to be -- we need the experience here in the fourth quarter of a tight ballgame on the road against Power Five opponent,” Herman added. “And so that was why you didn’t see him in the fourth quarter, because coming out of that rain delay, we had 14 minutes to go win the game. We wanted to make sure that the guy with the most experience in our backfield was out there the most.”
If Ingram’s initial efforts were a sign of things to come, which has become the expectation dating back to his back-to-back 2,000-yard campaigns and Carthage, and on into fall camp as he chipped away and climbed the depth chart, inexperience may not be much of a factor much longer.
After surpassing the likes of Porter, Toneil Carter, and Kirk Johnson to earn third-string reps against Maryland, Ingram is now listed as the co-second string running back on Texas’ depth chart for the Tulsa game, along with Young. Averaging 6.2 yards per carry, producing the team’s most explosive running play of the game, and scoring his first career touchdown on only his fourth career carry can tend to have that impact.
Just as quarterbacks Sam Ehlinger and Shane Buechele noted ahead of the season, senior right guard Patrick Vahe echoed their sentiments that Ingram is equipped with all one could want out of a running back.
“That kid knows exactly how to run the ball, exactly the way we want him to,” Vahe said of Ingram, per 247Sports. “He’s a young guy, so he’s still got a lot to learn, so we’ll go into the film and he’ll learn from everything.”
Now able to study and learn from his first appearance as a Longhorn, Ingram is just days away from suiting up and stepping into Darrell K Royal—Texas Memorial Stadium for the first time when Texas welcomes Tulsa on Saturday evening. It’s safe to assume when that time comes, Ingram will enjoy more than seven total touches, and the offense as a whole may stand to gain from an increase in Ingram’s carries.