By Steve Habel, Senior Contributing Editor
AUSTIN, Texas — For the first two weeks of the 2018 football season, Texas has used a running back-by-committee approach to distributing carries among its stable of ball carriers, and the results have been mixed, with the Longhorns settling for a 1-1 start.
UT's depth chart for the first two games listed graduate transfer Tre Watson “or” true freshman Keaontay Ingram "or" sophomore Danny Young as the starting running back, the Longhorns’ leading running back rusher from last season.
That’s changed for this week’s critical game against USC.
With Ingram nursing a knee injury and Young moving to a role as the short-yardage and late-game option, Watson will be the starter Saturday against the Trojans when they visit Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium for the first time since 1966.
Texas coach Tom Herman said Monday that Watson has earned the starting nod, and that he feels comfortable with him there.
“Tre’s our starting tailback right now, and he's doing a really good job with that,” Herman said. “Off the field, he's an energetic guy that his new teammates really, really like being around. He does a great job for us.
“The best thing to say about Tre is his energy on and off the field. He's got great energy, and great positivity, and when he makes a mistake he owns up to it. He's really, really energetic and is very positive with his new teammates.”
Watson has racked up 120 yards on 30 carries over the first two games and has caught two passes for 17 yards.
Watson opened preseason camp wearing a non-contact jersey as he continued to work his way back from a knee injury that derailed his senior season at California. He was cleared for full-fledged work two weeks before the season opener and is closer and closer to being the runner the Longhorns expect him to be.
“Texas has done a great job of monitoring my injury,” Watson said. “It took a little bit, but I built confidence and the team built me up. I felt like I was ready to go out there the first week and compete.”
Watson grew up in Southern California and was such a USC fan that he wore No. 5 in tribute to Reggie Bush when at California and now as a member of the Longhorns.
But how does Watson feel about USC now?
“If you’re not in the burnt orange and white," Watson told the assembled media Tuesday, "you’re the enemy."