Joe Bergeron knows what it takes to score touchdowns in the red zone. The Texas Longhorns tailback has been doing it all season.
Texas is second in the Big 12 in red zone offense in large part to the bruising sophomore. Bergeron is tied for the most rushing touchdowns in the conference with 14. Last week against Baylor, he rushed for a career-high five touchdowns, including four in the first half of a 56-50 win. Two weeks prior, Bergeron ran for four touchdowns in a 48-45 loss to West Virginia.
"There's nothing that can stop him," Texas offensive lineman Trey Hopkins said. "He's jumping over people, running through people, he's determined to score and do whatever it takes."
Bergeron has scored 10 times from inside the 5-yard line.
"Most of the touchdowns were in the red zone, so those are pretty much gimmies," Bergeron said. "We practice on that all the time. Those are times where you have to get the touchdown because it is a momentum change. They are pretty much giving you the touchdown. When coach puts the ball in your hands, you have to produce. The team is looking at you to make the touchdown to help us win."
Offensive lineman Mason Walters said Bergeron's ability to move the ball against defenses loaded up to stop the run makes the tailback a a serious threat in the red zone.
"No matter how you draw up the blocking scheme, there's always one extra defender when you get near the goal line. The thing about Joe is he wins that matchup," Walters said. "That's the great thing. You have to have a guy down there who is going to take that 1-on-1 matchup and win. That's what we've got to have. When we get inside the 5-yard line I expect to see Joe score."
Bergeron also expects to score every time the Longhorns get into the red zone.
"I just see the goal line," Bergeron said. "I see the holes their line makes, the little creases that they give me. I see the crease, I see the touchdown, I see the goal line and that is really it. I just hit it. Really, it is just a blur. If anybody comes within that vision, you just punish them."
The Longhorns rank second in the FBS in touchdown percentage in the red zone, with 30 touchdowns on 36 trips (83.3 percent).
Bergeron is one of three players in Texas history with at least five rushing touchdowns in a single game. Ricky Williams had a pair of five-touchdown games and two six-touchdown games. Cedric Benson was the last to accomplish the feat before Bergeron, scoring five times against Oklahoma State in 2004.
Bergeron will look to add to his touchdown total on Saturday when Texas plays at Kansas. Last season, Bergeron rushed for 136 yards and two scores against the Jayhawks in a 43-0 win.
By Austin Laymance/Special to the Star-Telegram