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To beat Bama, McCoy and the Longhorns have to run. ::AP

In this SI.com column, I hypothesized that for Texas to move the ball effectively against Alabama, the Longhorns will have to keep running the ball - even if the run seems ineffective.

I came to that conclusion after examining every Texas rush and every rushing play run against Alabama using Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis' metric for efficient rushes. According to Davis, a rush is efficient if it 1) gains four yards or more, 2) results in a first down or 3) results in a touchdown.

The numbers showed that while Texas isn't the most efficient running team - and while Alabama's defense doesn't allow many teams to run efficiently - the teams that had the best shot of beating Alabama this season were the ones that didn't give up on running the football. Here are the numbers that led me to that conclusion. If you look at each game's box score, the total attempts won't match the number of carries because I eliminated sacks, which are called passes that get counted as rushes. My numbers will differ slightly from Davis', because he includes some screens and shovel passes in his count. Unfortunately, I don't have video of every play this season, and while Texas keeps intricately detailed play-by-play at home, its road opponents didn't always differentiate between types of passes. Also, Davis didn't count Colt McCoy scrambles in his numbers. But since McCoy's scrambles are a critical part of the Longhorns' run game and help keep an opposing defensive coordinator from releasing the hounds, I included them.

Texas Rushing

Opponent Total rushes Efficient rushes Rushing efficiency
Louisiana-Monroe 49 31 63.2%
Wyoming 34 22 64.7%
Texas Tech 36 21 58.3%
UTEP 31 19 61.3%
Colorado 23 6 26.1%
Oklahoma 34 17 50.0%
Missouri 38 22 57.8%
Oklahoma State 30 15 50.0%
Central Florida 23 10 43.5%
Baylor 34 20 58.8%
Kansas 35 21 60.0%
Texas A&M 34 27 79.4%
Nebraska 29 10 34.5%
Total  430 241 56.0%
     
       

Alabama Rush Defense

     
Opponent Total rushes Efficient rushes Rushing efficency
Virginia Tech 24 12 50.0%
Florida International 21 8 38.1%
North Texas 24 7 29.2%
Arkansas 22 10 45.5%
Kentucky 36 19 52.8%
Ole Miss 22 7 31.8%
South Carolina 21 9 42.9%
Tennessee 33 16 48.5%
LSU 22 14 63.6%
Mississippi State 35 14 40.0%
Chattanooga 21 6 28.6%
Auburn 28 13 46.4%
Florida 15 9 60.0%
Total 324 144 44.4%

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