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Five Thoughts Following The Win Over West Virginia

Photo: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Heck of a win by the Longhorns today in Morgantown to become bowl eligible. Will Grier going out with a broken finger on his throwing hand early on changed everything the Mountaineers did offensively and it certainly took the pep out the home crowd.

With Grier out, the Texas defense only allowed 7 offensive points to West Virginia and kept the offense in check for much of the game. The other 7 points game via a misguided throw from Sam Ehlinger that ended up going the other way for a touchdown.

With or without Grier on the field today, this was a big win in several ways for Tom Herman’s bunch and it should be celebrated accordingly considering what has transpired for most of the year.

The Longhorns are going bowling, baby!

After the past few years the Longhorn fan base has learned not to take bowl games for granted. Texas hasn’t been bowling since 2014 and that resulted in a blow out at the hands of Arkansas in the Texas Bowl down in Houston.

Texas needed to win one of the two remaining games on their schedule and both were far from being a given. I honestly didn’t see a Longhorn victory in the cards this afternoon, but the Mountaineers losing Grier early on made a big difference and the offense showed some signs of life on the road in a hostile environment.

Going bowling is obviously good for several reasons for Texas. Despite the program still being a work in progress, it’s a step in the right direction and it continues to show that progress is being made in Austin. This is far from the standard of course, but the team has been competitive in a matchup and they will get to benefit from the extra practices in December.

On top of that, the upperclassmen in the program that have never experienced a bowl game will get to do just that before they graduate and I think everyone can appreciate that.

The return of Connor Williams provides a jolt

We’ve beat up the offensive line for their pitiful performance this year, so it is only right that we highlight them when they have a solid day at the office. For starters, it was great to see 55 suited up and looking like his old self out there today. Williams set the tone early on the first drop back of the game, as he dominated his man and finished him off for good measure.

The offensive line overall just looked different in a good way with Williams out there and aside from keeping Sam Ehlinger and Shane Buechele clean today (though Zach Shackleford would have given up a sack had Ehlinger ate the ball on the interception) they took it to the Mountaineer defense to the tune of 233 yards rushing on 5.5 yards per tote. You will take that all day and twice on Sundays.

The bad news of the day was the offensive line suffering yet another injury when Patrick Vahe left the game with a knee injury. With Vahe out Terrell Cuney slid to left guard and Shackleford was inserted at center, so this will be your likely grouping going forward if Vahe has to miss extended time.

The defense comes up big once again

With Holton Hill being out for the rest of the year, I felt like the defense was going to be in a bit of trouble when it came to covering the productive Mountaineer wide receivers. While Grier being out certainly impacted the game, the secondary held their own and then some against the likes of David Sills and Ka’Ruan White.

None of the Mountaineer wide receivers cracked 75 yards receiving today and on top of that, the defense held running back Justin Crawford to 64 yards on the ground. As mentioned earlier, the defense only allowed 7 points to a normally potent offense, and they also forced two timely turnovers via fumbles.

This unit has kept some very explosive offenses in check this year and I imagine they will be up to the task next week against Texas Tech in the regular season finale.

Texas landed a hidden gem in Daniel Young

While I will forever be miffed about the mishandling of the JK Dobbins recruitment, I have to say that it looks like Texas found themselves a nice player in Daniel Young. The freshman from Westfield seems to get better each week as he continues to get more involved in the offense.

It looked like he would easily go over the 100 yard mark, but he ended up settling for 85 yards rushing on 12 carries (7.1 yards per carry) and a touchdown, while also notching 3 receptions for 14 yards. He does a little bit of everything for the offense and as long as he continues to improve in blitz pickup he will be on the field a lot over the next several years.

I thought Toneil Carter was going to end up being the more productive back early in his Longhorn career, but Young is already making a name for himself despite not getting more touches sooner in the season.

Big 12 refs at it again for the third consecutive week

Once again we all watched the referees opt not to throw a flag in-game only to review it and drop a flag on the Longhorns for the third week in a row. I had never seen this done before prior to the TCU game and definitely have never seen it called three straight weeks on the same team.

You will be hard pressed to find another team in the country that this has happened to and I would love to get a clear explanation on what the rule is because it has reached absurd levels at this point.

As far as Texas goes, they obviously need to either coach up their players better to avoid this reoccurring penalty or they need to dump that kind of screen completely, because it is obvious the refs are looking for it when Texas plays.

I hate ending my thoughts on a sour note, but it is something that needed to be said. Today is a good day though, because the Longhorns picked up a big road win over the Mountaineers and can end the season 7-5 with a home victory over Texas Tech.

Bring on the Red Raiders.

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