Texas Football: Keilan Robinson in for a big workload in Alamo Bowl

Keilan Robinson, Texas football Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
Keilan Robinson, Texas football Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports /

Game day has arrived for Texas football.

The final game day of the 2022 season will take place for head coach Steve Sarkisian and No. 20 ranked Texas against first-year head coach Kalen DeBoer and the No. 12 ranked Washington Huskies in the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio on Dec. 29.

Sark and the Longhorns will be a little bit shorthanded, though, for the Alamo Bowl against the Huskies. A key trio of upperclassmen will be missing for this game in order to prepare for the 2023 NFL Draft and avoid any injury risk.

The trio of upperclassmen that opted out of the Alamo Bowl includes junior All-American running back Bijan Robinson, senior running back Roschon Johnson, and senior linebacker DeMarvion Overshown. That is a lot for the Longhorns to be missing in this game.

And the position group that will have to do the most to make up for these absences is running back. Texas will be relying on a trio of running backs that includes redshirt freshman Jonathon Brooks, redshirt junior Keilan Robinson, and true freshman Jaydon Blue.

Throughout the last few weeks, it was assumed that Brooks would be the one that received the bulk of the rushing attempts in the Alamo Bowl in the absence of the duo of Bijan and Roschon. But Sark might have some late adjustments to that assumption for the Alamo Bowl gameplan.

It’s starting to sound like Sark and the Longhorns might give a heavier workload to Keilan in the ground game than originally anticipated.

According to a report from Eric Nahlin of Inside Texas on Dec. 29 (paid content), it looks like we’re going to see a lot more from Keilan in the ground game than we did during the regular season.

During the regular season, Keilan got just 17 rushing attempts, which was a step down compared to last year. The most rushing attempts he received in a single game this fall was just five, which came in the win over the Kansas Jayhawks on the road on Nov. 19.

Keilan Robinson could have the most touches of any Texas football RB in the Alamo Bowl

In fact, there were more games in the second half of the regular season where Keilan was targeted the same or more times in the passing game than he touched the ball on the ground. Keilan was often utilized as a motion-man out of the backfield pre-snap to change up the looks on opposing defenses.

And if we know anything about Sark, he loves to layer concepts and work in pre-snap motion to throw off opposing defenses. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if we see a lot of mixed looks for Keilan in terms of delayed handoffs and pre-snap motion out of the backfield in this game.

With the way things are trending pregame for the Alamo Bowl, a 50-50 split in the carries out of the backfield between Keilan and Brooks wouldn’t be too shocking. I always anticipated Keilan would have an increased workload in this game. The mindset was that he just wouldn’t get as many rushing attempts as Brooks.

Moreover, a report from Horns247 on the morning of Dec. 29 (paid content) also reinforces the point that Keilan could be in for more reps than we initially thought just a few weeks ago.

Heading into the Alamo Bowl, another assumption in terms of the offensive playcalling is that Sark will rely more on the passing game than he did in the last few weeks. Redshirt freshman quarterback Quinn Ewers only had 35 passing attempts in the last two games of the regular season combined.

He could easily be looking at 35 passing attempts in this game alone, depending on how the deep ball is connecting with sophomore wide receiver Xavier Worthy.

Early on, though, I expect to see some of the more athletic skill guys like Keilan getting involved in the short passing game. That could get Ewers in the rhythm he needs to be in to have the confidence to find Worthy on the deep ball when the looks open up later in the game.

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Texas heads into the Alamo Bowl sporting a record of 8-4 (6-3 Big 12) following a 38-27 Nov. 25 win in the regular season finale over the Baylor Bears. The kickoff time between Texas and Washington in the Alamo Bowl at the Alamodome in San Antonio on Dec. 29 is set for 8 p.m. CT.