I get why Herman said it, and he wasn’t being disrespectful towards Georgia when he made the point that the Dawgs’ running game won’t “be anything too formidable for us”, but his choice of examples for why that’s the case are a little strange.
“We played a team in Oklahoma that had gone six straight games of rushing for at least 290 yards,” Herman said. “The week prior we were against a Kansas team that had a freshman running back named Pooka Williams who rushed for 200-and-something yards against Oklahoma the week prior to that.”
Texas held the Sooners to 129 yards rushing and just 3.2 yards per carry in its 39-27 loss to Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship Game on Dec. 1.
Against Kansas, on Nov. 23, the Longhorns held Big 12 Newcomer of the Year Pooka Williams to 103 yards on 16 carries and the Jayhawks to 137 yards rushing as a team in a 24-17 win.
“So, yeah, there are some teams that do like to throw it in our conference,” Herman said. “But the last three games that we played, being Iowa State, Kansas, and then Oklahoma, are all in the conversation for very difficult teams to defend running the football.”
Texas did a good job defending the run in the Big 12 title game, but Herman didn’t mention Oklahoma’s rushing stats when the teams met earlier during the regular season. They aren’t particularly pretty: 31 attempts, 222 yards (7.16 ypc) and 2 TDs.
As far as Pooka Williams goes, sure Texas did a better job of stopping him than Oklahoma did, but Williams still managed almost six and a half yards per rushing attempt against the Longhorns defense.
Looking at the game logs, I don’t really see where you can clearly say Texas’ rush defense improved by season’s end. Yes, the ‘Horns did well in that regard against Iowa State and Oklahoma, but three of the last five offenses they faced all averaged above Texas’ season average.
Georgia’s running game, on the other hand, clearly improved as the season wore on. And before you jump on the decline against Alabama, consider that Georgia rushed for a higher ypc average against the Tide defense (3.92) than Texas’ run defense averaged (3.88) for the season. That’s kind of formidable in its own way, you’d think.