Texas might be struggling early in the season but running back D’Onta Foreman sure isn’t.
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 7 yards per carry as Texas (2-3, 0-2) heads into Saturday night’s game 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 6-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 past 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,” said Strong.
And Strong would like nothing more than to see Foreman and the offense overpower the Cyclones.
Texas has never started 0-3 in the Big 12 and losing to an Iowa State program that has only two wins in the history of the series will likely seal Strong’s fate. Iowa State drubbed Texas 24-0 last season in Ames in arguably Strong’s worst loss in the last three seasons.
And Iowa State is a rapidly improving team that has struggled to win games 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 past 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 points four times this season.
The 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. That duo 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.
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.
Texas is looking for big plays from Malik 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.
Texas vs. Iowa State
6 p.m. Saturday, Longhorn Net.