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Golden: Unstoppable Robinson is the bell cow Horns need moving forward

Robinson ran for 183 yards in blowout win.

Texas running back Bijan Robinson celebrates a first-half touchdown in the Longhorns' 55-23 Alamo Bowl win over Colorado. The freshman rushed for 183 yards and scored three touchdowns.
  • Robinson rushed for a Big 12 freshman record 183 yards — he had 220 yards of offensive overall —  and a touchdown while also becoming the first back in school history to catch two touchdowns in a bowl game.
  • Over the last two games he has totaled 443 yards and averaged 18.4 yards per attempt.
  • "When I'm on the sideline, I'm smiling all the time,” he said. “I even smile on the field. That's just my personality. I love to have fun playing the game."

The Colorado Buffaloes had answers for Bijan Robinson.

Then they tried to tackle him, and answers became questions. Like will he run for 1,000 yards against us on ESPN?

Boxing legend Mike Tyson once said that everyone has a plan until they get hit. In Tuesday night's 55-23 Alamo Bowl win, Robinson was the one delivering the knockout blows in a statement performance.

Texas' 6-foot, 220-pound freshman made the Alamodome his personal playground and gave a national television audience a glimpse of what we should expect to see in 2021: a heavy dose, game in and game out, of the next great UT running back.

A certain 1998 Heisman Trophy winner nicknamed Robinson “Little Ricky” earlier this season, and nothing Robinson did in his first bowl game provided any evidence that Ricky Williams practiced any sort of hyperbole with that moniker.

Robinson is that good and bound to get better.

He and sophomore quarterback Casey Thompson gave Texas fans some legitimate hope that things are on the upswing even if the fan base was clamoring for one Urban Meyer to supplant Tom Herman not long ago.

Robinson rushed for a Big 12 freshman-record 183 yards — he had 220 yards of offense overall —  and a touchdown while also becoming the first back in school history to catch two touchdowns in a bowl game.

Texas running back Bijan Robinson breaks out for a first down against Colorado in Tuesday's Alamo Bowl. His first carry of the game went for 50 yards.

Want more? How about finishing the season as the all-time leader in average yards per rush in a single year, at 8.2? That tops long-distance threats like Vince Young, Jamaal Charles and the late great Cedric Benson.

Robinson, a Tucson product with a megawatt smile, became the only UT player to put up consecutive games of 200 yards from scrimmage with 12 touches in 25 seasons of FBS games. Over the last two games he has totaled 443 yards and averaged 18.4 yards per attempt. Those are otherworldly numbers that should have anyone who follows Texas football excited about what the future will bring.

And he’s doing it with the joy of a five-year-old on Christmas morning.

"When I'm on the sideline, I'm smiling all the time,” Robinson said. “I even smile on the field. That's just my personality. I love to have fun playing the game."

His attitude is infectious and who wouldn’t love a whistle-while-you-work freight train who gives most of the credit to his teammates?

“I love Bijan,” Thompson said. “I love his game and I love his energy. He’s a great guy. We all see his positivity. He makes everyone around him better, works hard in practice and is very humble. It’s a relief as a quarterback to have a great running back in the backfield.”

Texas freshman running back Bijan Robinson averaged 8.2 yards per carry on the season, a school record for freshmen.

Contrary to any reports out of San Antonio, there was one person at the Dome who figured out how to stop Robinson: his coach, who didn’t give him the ball in a fruitless four-possession span in the first half that produced zero first downs.

What happened? Did he sneak off for some tacos on the Alamodome concourse and get lost finding his way back to the field?

Did someone from the Colorado contingent slather molasses on his cleats?

Or the worst fear: Did he opt out, too?

Herman will have us believe that Texas’ lull after taking that 14-0 lead on Robinson’s exploits had something to do with some struggles up front, but my never-coached-one-day-in-my-life eyes told me it happened because he stopped giving his young Sherman tank the football.

“We’re going to rotate our backs and keep them fresh,” Herman said. “(Roschon Johnson) showed that in the second half and in the fourth quarter. That’s kind of what we do. The missed opportunities in the second quarter in the run game ... I don’t think any tailback, probably wouldn’t have mattered who was in the game.”

Nope. Not buying that one. Johnson is a really good college back — his fourth-quarter touchdown run was one fine piece of physical  running — but Robinson is already reminding us of what D'Onta Foreman gave the Horns in his 2,028 yard rushing performance in 2016: big-time explosiveness and physicality in the backfield, which took pressure off the rest of the offense.

Foreman carried the ball 30-plus times in five different games and turned in one of the best seasons in program history even if the team’s results weren’t enough to keep coach Charlie Strong from getting run.

Robinson’s spell of inactivity Tuesday night brought to mind that epic "Saturday Night Live" episode when Christopher Walken appeared with rock band Blue Oyster Cult and told them: “I have a fever and the only cure is more cowbell.”

Well, Texas fans are starved for a return to the glory days and the fastest way to get there has nothing to do with a running back rotation.

Longhorn Nation will demand more Bijan and Herman shouldn’t overthink the obvious. Great college coaches adjust to their personnel. Herman should increase those totes.

It took a while for Robinson to get here. Those 14 carries for 67 yards through his first three games may have had as much to do with him settling into the speed of the college game as it did with Herman playing the more experienced Johnson and Keaontay Ingram. But Robinson's 522 yards over the last four games at 11.1 yards per carry is proof enough that the days of him adjusting are now in the past.

Defenses will have to adjust to him as the numbers are sure to pile up.

Robinson has arrived, and Texas has its back of the present and the future.

Who besides Herman will stop him?