AUSTIN — Copperas Cove fans remember him well. Now, Texas fans are becoming very familiar with Chris Warren III.
Playing a bi-district game at Baylor’s McLane Stadium two years ago, the Bulldawgs had their hopes of earning the program’s second postseason victory since 2008 dashed in a 70-42 loss.
En route to the win, the Yellowjackets relied on Warren, who carried the ball 25 times for a game-high 163 yards and two touchdowns.
Saturday evening, the No. 11 Longhorns did the same.
In the absence of starter D’Onta Foreman, Warren, a sophomore, ran for a team-high 95 yards and a score, helping Texas beat visiting Texas-El Paso 41-7.
While the statistics were not quite as gaudy as when he faced Copperas Cove in 2014, they were equally impressive to Longhorns offensive coordinator Sterling Gilbert.
“Chris did a really good job of just banging around and gaining yards,” he said. “For him to be able to step up in that role and take a vast majority of the carries was huge for him.
“He’s just like all these guys; we are coaching them all to get better because we are still just in the second week of a new offense.”
In just his third career start, Warren was responsible for 20 of Texas’ 47 carries, including 10 in the third quarter, when he rushed for 43 of his yards and recorded his first touchdown of the season.
Still in the infancy of his collegiate career, Warren was quick to say the extended playing time was vital for his maturation process.
“This was really good because now all the running backs have more experience,” he said. “The whole unit has more experience playing college ball, and that is what we are going to really need later in the season.”
With the Longhorns (2-0) leading 20-7 early in the third quarter, Texas head coach Charlie Strong turned to Warren to produce, and he did.
The 6-foot-2, 252-pounder carried the ball five times during a seven-play stretch, converting a pair of first downs before crossing the goal line on a 1-yard run.
Following the victory, Strong attributed the success of true freshman quarterback Shane Buechele and the eight receivers who caught passes against the Miners (1-1) to Warren and the rest of his running backs.
“We just have so many weapons,” Strong said, “but I think that what happens is the throwing game opens up because of how effectively we can run the football.”
Buechele put together a second consecutive impressive showing to start his career, completing 22 of 27 passes for 244 yards and four touchdowns, including a pair to former quarterback Jerrod Heard, who finished with six catches for 46 yards.
But he feels the ground game must remain consistent for the trend to extend.
“Chris runs hard,” Buechele said, “and all our running backs run hard. Our offensive line did a great job of opening up holes, and the backs did a great job of running through them.
“So, week in and week out, they have to continue to run hard.”
With Foreman’s availability uncertain for next week’s game at California, it is possible Warren could receive a majority of the carries once again.
If he does, the former Rockwall standout, who helped break the Bulldawgs’ hearts in 2014, will be prepared.
“I feel like we can do this again on the road,” Warren said. “I don’t think being home or away has anything to do with it.
“We’re going to be doing the same things, and I think we’ll be executing even better because we’ll clean some things up and get some players back.”