Texas Football: Jaydon Blue shows he’s ready to contribute to backfield

Jaydon Blue, Texas football. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
Jaydon Blue, Texas football. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports /

The offense for Texas football was out of sync at times out of the gates in the season opener on Sep. 2 at home against the Rice Owls. Miscommunication and struggles with the interior offensive line play caused Texas’ ground game to stagnate in the first quarter. And redshirt sophomore quarterback Quinn Ewers was under frequent pressure in the pocket in the first 15 minutes.

That led to Texas putting up just 17 rushing yards on eight attempts in the first quarter, as the ground game wasn’t a factor out of the gates last weekend against Rice. But the Longhorns got the ground game going in the second quarter despite starting running back and true freshman CJ Baxter Jr. suffering a rib injury that forced him out for the rest of the contest.

Baxter and redshirt sophomore Jonathon Brooks were the top two backs heading into the season, with redshirt senior Keilan Robinson even listed ahead of Blue on the depth chart for Week 1 against Rice.

The injury to Baxter opened the door for sophomore running back Jaydon Blue to take significant reps out of the backfield against Rice. And Blue made the most of his opportunity to get more carries last weekend.

Blue led the team in rushing yards, with a career-best 55 on 10 carries in the win over Rice.

Texas football RB Jaydon Blue provides spark to the ground game in win over Rice

The second-quarter spark that Blue provided to the Texas offense helped the Longhorns register 76 rushing yards on 15 attempts, nearly 60 rushing yards more than the prior quarter.

Blue was steady and decisive for Texas in the ground game throughout his 10 carries against Rice. Six of his 10 carries went for at least four yards, including two that racked up double-digit yards.

In his first real opportunity to impact the Texas offense in a live-game scenario, Blue ran hard and was very efficient on the ground. He saw the field well and was more confident hitting the hole than the other Texas backs.

Blue was very effective running outside zone. He quickly got to the outside and found his way through traffic. And when the lane wasn’t there in the zone ground game, Blue was able to redirect and find daylight. This run that went for 19 yards, Blue’s longest run play of the day, saw him bounce a run back inside after a Rice defensive lineman got leverage and plugged up the lane to get outside.

Of Blue’s 55 rushing yards against Rice, 46 came on zone running plays.

Blue also proved extremely difficult to bring down in the open field. He was hit at or before the line of scrimmage four times against Rice and wasn’t stuffed once. That shows how effectively he was making something out of nothing in this game.

Blue’s rushing performance opened up the rest of the offense

It’s no coincidence that the rushing game coming to life helped to open up the rest of the offense for head coach Steve Sarkisian and the Longhorns last weekend against Rice. Texas ‘ offense found life in the second and third quarters after going 0-of-3 on money down conversions and putting up just seven points in the first quarter.

Texas scored 30 of its 37 points while running the ball well in the middle 30 minutes of this game. Over 130 rushing yards helped the Longhorns pick up more than twice as many first downs in the second and third quarters compared to the first and convert on money downs at a clip of 50 percent (6-of-12).

The offense did slow down in the fourth quarter, thanks to a long scoring drive for the Owls that lasted just over nine minutes.

However, the important note here is that the spark Blue provided the Texas offense on the ground, which helped move the ball more effectively down the field and put up points. Blue proved he deserves to be a part of this backfield rotation moving forward as he ran with more conviction than any other Texas back consistently in the opener against Rice.

Blue deserves to get a heavy workload with Texas’ top three or four RBs this season

Alongside Baxter and redshirt sophomore Jonathon Brooks, Blue should be in the running back rotation to give Texas different looks on the ground. Blue is a talented back who is a different style runner than Baxter or Brooks.

He’s more of a slippery back who is great at finishing runs with conviction. Blue is extremely sudden changing directions and is great at making defenders miss in a phone booth.

Blue gives Sark and the Longhorns another weapon that presents a different threat and skill set to opposing defenses. His presence in the backfield gives Texas’ ground game another layer of potency in zone schemes, which happens to be Sark’s bread and butter.

Next. 4 key visiting recruits impressed by Texas' win over Rice. dark