ATHENS — Don’t tell Texas coach Tom Herman that his Longhorns could be over their head defending the Georgia football run game.
The No. 5-ranked Bulldogs (11-2) bring the SEC’s top rushing attack (259.8 yards per game) into the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1 against the Longhorns, who hail from what’s largely known as a pass-happy conference in the Big 12.
Herman, however, points out this No. 15-ranked Longhorns (9-4) have proven they can hold their own against some of the best rushing attacks in the country.
RELATED: Georgia quarterbacks in the headlines, popular talking point
The Texas coach said the adjustment to defending a power football team like the Bulldogs won’t “be anything too formidable for us” when the teams meet in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in New Orleans.
“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.”
Oklahoma ranks No. 11 in rushing offense (one spot ahead of Georgia), Kansas is No. 80 and Iowa State ranks 113.
Still, Herman sees enough talent in the Big 12 that he’s not overly concerned about the Georgia run game.
“I don’t think transitionally it will be anything too formidable for us,” Herman said. “We pride ourselves in our run defense, and we certainly understand the way that Georgia’s built, that we’re going to need our best on January 1st, certainly against the run.”
Texas ranks 36th in the nation in run defense, allowing 135.9 yards per game on the ground — just over 5 yards more than the Bulldogs’ defense gives up (130.6).
DawgNation Georgia football Sugar Bowl
Tim Tebow : Georgia will be challenged to be motivated for Texas
Kirby Smart and Tom Herman clash again in Sugar Bowl, now as head coaches