NCAA FB

No. 15 Texas overloaded with RBs in 2012

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP)

Now that's he won the job as the starter, Texas quarterback David Ash said he would be just as happy handing the ball off to a running back all season instead of throwing it - as long as it means winning.

He will certainly have plenty of options of who to give it to.

The No. 15 Longhorns open the season at home Saturday night against Wyoming, boasting their deepest backfield since Ricky Williams pretty much did it all by himself in 1998 on his way to winning the Heisman Trophy

Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron are both big, bruising runners who combined for 1,205 yards and 10 touchdowns last seasons despite some struggles with injuries. Freshman Johnathan Gray brings a blend of speed and power that that saw him score a national high school record 205 career touchdowns.

While Brown or Bergeron will start against the Cowboys, all three expect to get plenty of action all season.

''There's not really a set starter. It's more of a rotation,'' Brown said. ''You can put any of us in.''

Texas coach Mack Brown has yearned for the type of punishing rushing attack that can control a game since the Longhorns lost to Alabama in the national championship game after the 2009 season. Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson powered the Crimson Tide to the victory, bruising Texas' ego and revealing a winning formula the Longhorns have been trying to craft for themselves ever since.

The commitment to a strong running game started to take hold last season, even if its best efforts were against some of the worst defenses in the country. The Longhorns were clearly developing the confidence that they could run the ball against anyone.

Sometimes it worked, as in consecutive 400-yard games against Texas Tech and Kansas, and other times it didn't, as in 36 yards against Oklahoma.

''We are going to be a physical team (this season) and we are going to dominate our opponents physically for four quarters,'' Texas guard Trey Hopkins said.

Wyoming will be the first to put that to the test when the Cowboys make their second trip to Austin in three years. Wyoming lost 34-7 in 2010 but brings an experience team energized by quarterback Brett Smith, who led the Mountain West in total offense last season as a freshman.

''He's got a surrounding cast around him now and we're at a place where we can do what I want to do in the spread offense,'' Wyoming coach Dan Christensen said.

Wyoming plays in a stadium that holds about 29,000. At Texas, about 100,000 will pack into Royal-Memorial Stadium, raising the temperature a few more degrees on a hot Texas summer night. Texas is a 30-point favorite.

Wyoming senior center Nick Carlson said the Cowboys who were there in 2010 know what to expect.

''When it comes down to the field, we're still blocking football players,'' Carlson said. ''It's going to be physical.''

As for Ash, who fought off Case McCoy to be the starting quarterback for Texas, the game will be the first time he hasn't had to look over his shoulder after every play to see if he's being replaced.

Ash struggled to run the offense and split starts with McCoy for most of last season. But Mack Brown says Ash has earned the start Saturday and the right to keep it if he plays well. McCoy may play, but the Longhorns' are clearly Ash's team for now.

''He was so overloaded last year, it was hard for him to take time to lead,'' Brown said. ''David has really improved.''

Tagged: Florida, Alabama, Texas, Wyoming, Case McCoy, Mack Brown, David Ash, Malcolm Brown

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