September 6, 2007

The Locker Room Report

Q: (Todd Packer) - This is going to be a tough game for the Horns and I think the staff certainly knows it. In giving Jamaal Charles 27 carries last weekend, it appears that the coaches came out of the game with some questions about his ability to succeed in their zone schemes. Both Mack Brown and Greg Davis mentioned to the media this week that Charles wasn't getting up the field fast enough, which would seem to indicate that there's some blame being issued for last week's rushing woes. I didn't hear any linemen mentioned by name and I certainly didn't hear him criticize either of the cornerbacks (both of whom he lauded). I guess my question is this: if Texas is struggling in the running game next week, do you think it's possible that Chris Ogbonnaya won't just start sharing carries, but he'll be auditioning for the lions' share of them? Could this be a defining moment in Charles' career?

A: Honestly, I hadn't even considered your scenario before you brought it up, but you could be onto something. I would definitely agree that the Longhorn staff wants to see more from Charles and it is interesting that even after he broke the 100-yard barrier with some very tough running on Saturday, that he's a guy the coaches seem to be trying to light a fire under. My initial thoughts on the distribution of the carries this weekend was that Charles would receive 90% of the carries since that's the way it went down against Arkansas State, but after giving it a little more consideration I think you could be right about them going with Ogbonnaya early in the game if there are any struggles in the running game, which I think we can anticipate at this point based on the results in the opener and the increased level of competition this week.

I think we'll see Ogbonnaya a little earlier this week than we saw against Arkansas State, but if he wants to see heavy action, he'll need to be very strong, very quick. The Texas staff isn't about experimenting in the middle of a key game, so it would seem like a pretty drastic step to change the workload distribution dramatically mid-game. The more likely scenario would be an overhaul the next week against Central Florida. This is a big week for the entire Longhorn team, but you're right when you suggest that this could be a defining week for Charles.

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