In the final weeks of the 2017 campaign, Texas football was able to turn to running back Daniel Young as the answer to move the ground game forward.
The time has come for Texas football to get a running back that can take the offense to the next level, which is something it didn’t get last season. Relying on a sophomore running back in Kyle Porter and senior Chris Warren III didn’t pan out too well for the Longhorns in 2017. The two best running backs by the end of the season in terms of yards per carry were two freshmen in Daniel Young and Toneil Carter.
Among running backs, Young led the way in yards with 373. Meanwhile, Carter led in yards per carry sitting at 4.8. The overall leader in rushing yards for the Horns was actually a freshman quarterback in Sam Ehlinger. That trend needs to change for the longevity of the offense in Austin.
It’s a good sign that Young rounded out the year pretty well. Carter was up and down for most of the season and was never really the “go-to guy” in the ground game. Porter and Young got the most rushing attempts, each slightly over 80. Even Warren III, who led the team in rushing touchdowns, got less than 80 carries last season.
By season’s end, Warren III was already done and Porter was an afterthought for most Texas fans. Although Porter had a solid freshman campaign back in 2016, he ran into quite the sophomore slump the following year. Young rounded out the season as the clear cut best rusher for the Horns.
He averaged at least 4.0 yards per carry in each of the final three games of the season, including the Texas Bowl victory over the Mizzou Tigers. Young also finished up with nearly half his rushing yards for the entire year and two-thirds of his touchdowns in that same span of games.
Having Young in the backfield to turn to was also very valuable for Ehlinger. If the Horns had managed to knock off the Texas Tech Red Raiders like it should’ve gone, then the efforts from Young in the final four games of the season would’ve meant four straight wins. Texas also claimed victories over the Kansas Jayhawks, West Virginia Mountaineers, and Mizzou then.
This offense does have some newfound talent making its way into the backfield for the start of the upcoming regular season. A valued grad transfer running back Tre Watson chose the Horns over Texas Tech and has a ton of experience in his career. Meanwhile, four-star recruit Keaontay Ingram could see some early playing time too.
Young is sure to have some competition in the backfield this fall, but he has the momentum from a solid end to the 2017 campaign to work with. Texas head football coach Tom Herman and offensive coordinator Tim Beck would be wise to give Young a good workload in the opening game.