Given the scheme, and Sam Ehlinger’s resemblance to Larry Csonka when carrying the ball, it’s fitting to lump quarterbacks and running backs into the same preview.
We’re all well aware of Tom Herman’s fondness for gaining the numbers advantage in the run game. That’s the primary function for his usage of the tight end, after all. It’s also why Herman will always recruit quarterbacks who at a bare minimum force the defense to account for them on the ground.
A misconception of many fans is a quarterback has to be an excellent athlete to be an efficient runner. A fan base spoiled by Vince Young may have reason to think that, but we also saw Colt McCoy, Tyrone Swoopes, and on one famous run worthy of rhythm gymnastics gold, Case McCoy, run effectively.
Ehlinger is a better runner than each of them, even Swoopes, thanks to Ehlinger’s combination of initial quickness and decisiveness.
With Ehlinger’s tenacious play style, he has a duty cycle that must be taken into account. The more a machine is worked, the shorter its lifespan. Last season #11 worked incredibly hard which led to a duty cycle of 6/12. Some of that is scheme and need in ‘gotta have it moments’, but much of it is hardwired into his circuitry.
It’ll be much easier to get the offensive line to play adequately than it will be to re-wire Ehlinger, and that’s a big reason why the offensive line is the key to the season.
Assuming the offensive line is league average, the offensive brain-trust can then rely on the running backs to carry most of the load.
Texas likely doesn’t have a special back on the roster, but it does have solid individual talent that could emerge as a complementary and productive platoon.
If the line is average and the scheming and play-calling matches personnel strengths against defensive weaknesses, we’re going to see a much different offense this year.