AUSTIN (AP) – Texas running back D’Onta Foreman is quietly having a big season.
While the Longhorns’ three-game losing skid keeps raising the pressure on coach Charlie Strong, Foreman keeps pounding away at opposing defenses and racking up some of the best rushing numbers in the country.
Foreman’s 148.8 yards per game ranks second nationally and he’s averaging nearly seven yards per carry as Texas (2-3, 0-2) heads into a Saturday night matchup against Iowa State (1-5, 0-3). At his current pace, Foreman could rival Ricky Williams of 1997 when Williams ran for 1,800 yards on a 4-7 team the season before he won the Heisman Trophy.
“What no one realizes (is) how strong and how fast he is,” Strong said. “It’s maybe a 1-yard gain, maybe a 2-yard gain and he just keeps grinding. And then all of a sudden it’s going to be a six yard pop and then a 20 yard pop.
Foreman is a 250-pound battering ram who’s fast enough to have eight touchdown runs of 19 yards or longer the last two seasons, including bursts of 93, 65 and 62 yards.
Foreman ran for 159 yards and two scores in a loss to Oklahoma last week despite an abdominal muscle injury from a week earlier. He also missed Texas’ win over UTEP with a leg injury although Texas has said he could have played that game if needed.
“Sometimes we don’t even block it the right way, he just finds a way where he can bounce back outside and drop his pads and just run through people,” Strong said.
Here’s some things to watch for when Texas hosts Iowa State:
FOURTH QUARTER FOLLIES: Iowa State is a rapidly improving team mostly because the Cyclones can’t hold a lead in the fourth quarter. Iowa State has taken double-digit leads into the fourth quarter its last two games only to lose both .
The Cyclones are averaging 39 points in their last three games and now face a Texas defense that’s given up at least 45 four times this season.
BIG-PLAY CYCLONE: Texas defenses have been allowing career games by big-play wide receivers all season and Iowa State’s Allen Lazard or Trever Ryen could be next. Those two caught three touchdown passes last week against Oklahoma State. At 6-foot-5, 223 pounds, Lazard is a handful for any defensive back to handle.
STRONG’S “MUST WIN”: Texas has never started 0-3 in the Big 12 and losing to an Iowa State program that has just two wins in the history of the series likely seals Strong’s fate. Iowa State drubbed Texas 24-0 last season in Ames in arguably Strong’s worst loss in the last three seasons.
TEXAS PASS RUSH: Despite terrible problems in coverage, Texas had been good at getting pressure on quarterbacks until last week against Oklahoma, when they didn’t have a sack until late in the fourth quarter. The Longhorns’ secondary needs all the help it can get, starting with the guys up front.
WHERE’S JEFFERSON?: Texas is looking for big plays from Jefferson, who many regard among one of the Big 12’s best defensive players. But while Jefferson ranks second on the team with 30 tackles, he has just one sack with no interceptions or forced fumbles through the first five games as the defense reels.
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