Texas put together its cleanest and most complete game of the season on Saturday night, knocking off Iowa State and putting themselves a win away from playing for a Big 12 championship. Let’s a took at the good, bad and ugly from a big win over the Cyclones:
Great performance from the Texas defense
During Tom Herman’s press conference last Monday, he told the media that the defense was going to get better. Todd Orlando echoed Herman’s statement on Wednesday, telling the media he asked Herman to put full pads on Tuesday so the defense could clean up fundamental issues. Whatever the Longhorns did, it worked. Texas turned in their most complete defensive performance of the season against Iowa State, holding the Cyclones to 210 total yards.
Texas finds success running the football
It was mildly surprising to see Texas have consistent success running the football against an Iowa State defense that ranked at or near the top of every statistical category in the Big 12. The Texas offensive line did an excellent job of establishing the line of scrimmage for 4 quarters, allowing Tre Watson and Keaontay Ingram to find running room. The duo combined for 150 yards on 27 carries, with Watson ripping off a season long run of 39 yards in the 3rd quarter.
Shane Buechele plays well
For the second time this season, Sam Ehlinger left a game with a shoulder injury. This time, Ehlinger suffered a bad bruise after having a defenders facemask go directly into his throwing shoulder. Despite playing in only his 2nd game of the year, Shane Buechele finished the evening a perfect 10 for 10 for 89 yards and a touchdown. Should Ehlinger have to miss Friday’s game in Lawrence, Buechele will be tasked with trying to lead the Longhorns to a victory over Kansas and clinching Texas a spot in the conference championship game.
Cameron Dicker misses a chip shot
Freshman kicker Cameron Dicker has been reliable for most of the 2018 season, but he has had a few kicks he would like to have back. One of those came in the 2nd quarter, when Dicker missed a 28-yarder wide right. It has been a short sample size, but Dicker seems to be more comfortable kicking from the left hashmark, and his miss came from the right hashmark. Regardless, anything inside of 40 yards should be pretty automatic. It didn’t end up costing Texas, but every play will matter if Texas gets into close games to finish the season.
Coughing up the football
Texas tried to get Daniel Young a couple carries at the end of the game, but the sophomore coughed up the ball on the first play, giving Iowa State another possession trailing only by 14. Young has seen inconsistent playing time this year, but he may be tasked with a key role next year with the departure of senior Tre Watson. Young possesses the most physicality out of any back on the roster, but he has to protect the football if he hopes to see an expanded role in 2019.
It is not an ideal time for Texas to have a short week before going on the road. In addition to Sam Ehlinger’s shoulder injury, the Longhorns have several starters who are nursing injuries. Keaontay Ingram continues to battle and play through a hip injury, Zach Shackelford and Kris Boyd played through injuries and Brandon Jones has not returned from an ankle injury. Jones went through pre-game drills prior to the game and had limited practice throughout the week, meaning he could return this Friday against Kansas. Tom Herman has made it clear injuries will not be an excuse, but the Longhorns will look to get through the final regular season game and a possible conference championship game before a well-deserved rest prior to its bowl game.
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