Last year, the freshman duo combined for 1205 yards and 10 TDs, hamstrung by bad offense and, well, their own hamstrings. When healthy, both players showed flashes of brilliance despite a poor supporting cast. Brown revealed great vision, and feet so live that they could not be constrained by footwear; Bergeron demonstrated violent force of nature qualities that make opposing safeties poo a little. With an improved offense and a 2012 schedule unburdened by dominant DL play they have a real chance of making their mark on the Longhorn record books.
Here are the top 5 RB duos in Longhorn history (duo defined as the junior partner rushing for at least 400 yards, this prevents Ricky's junior and senior years from being on the list, which he would have managed paired with a fire hydrant).
Texas' Top RB Duos
1977 - Earl Campbell and Ham Jones, 2233 yards
1995 - Shon Mitchell and Ricky Williams, 2089 yards
1968 - Chris Gilbert and Steve Worster, 1938 yards
1996 - Ricky Williams and Shon Mitchell, 1896 yards
1987 - Eric Metcalf and Darron Norris, 1796 yards
In 2012, Brown and Bergeron have a solid chance of breaking into the top 5 all-time and even breaking 2,000 yards rushing combined. Globally, their success hinges on four things (and I'm assuming improved OL play as a given):
- Health. Not only theirs, but that of their supporting cast. Brown and Bergeron both suffered from injuries last year, but they also suffered from hurt. Mack Brown has sympathy for injuries, but he ain't got time for hurt. And said as much in the offseason. Clearly, injuries at QB, on the OL, at WR, are also damaging to their cause.
- Development of the passing game. Offense is not a zero sum game. The best way to run better isn't to run more, it's to run more effectively. Make the defense legitimately concerned about the passing game and everything gets easier.
- Johnathan Gray. If Gray can steal carries beyond garbage time or his expected use in the Wildcat, whether from B&B health issues, or Gray's general badassedness, we may end up with a trio instead of a duo. I wont complain if three RBs combine for 2200 yards with a 900-800-500 split. Will you?
- Their own development. Malcolm Brown was a consistent chain mover and gain maximizer, but didn't show the dynamism that separates the 55 yard run from the 12 yard variety. Acceleration out of his cut and breaking tackles on the last line of defense is where he takes the next step. Joe Bergeron showed plenty of dynamism, but he did it against weak sisters. How will Big Joe respond in Stillwater, in Dallas, in Manhattan?
Curious about your thoughts and expectations for our sophomore duo. Is a 2000+ yard combined season reasonable?