The Texas Longhorns comfortably led the Rice Owls in the fourth quarter. With about eight minutes remaining, Rice scored a touchdown against Texas reserves. The points were the Owls’ first of the game, and even though they ended hopes of a shutout for the Texas defense, the touchdown didn’t change the fact that the Horns had dominated the contest.
Then Rice scored again with 1:07 remaining in the game.
The ensuing kickoff sailed to the 2-yard line where it was caught by D’Shawn Jamison. With the game’s outcome already having been secured for four quarters the Longhorns’ kick return team executed their assignments, provided Jamison with a crease, and the sophomore defensive back raced for a 98-yard touchdown.
The final score from NRG field in Houston: Texas 48 – Rice 13
When the whistle blew it wasn’t the score that was most impressive, it was the nature in which the Longhorns won. There have been highs and lows throughout Tom Herman’s three years as the Texas’ head coach, but the program’s overhaul was never more evident than on Saturday night.
Texas isn’t back – that’s become a jape used by people that throw the Horns down. Texas has arrived.
In a meaningless contest sandwiched between the LSU game and the start of conference play, Texas recorded a dominant win. In and of itself, annihilating the Owls is insignificant, but the facets of the new brand of Texas football were on full display in the win – talent; depth; and strength & conditioning all played roles.
- Collin Johnson watched from the sideline. Normally playing without an all-conference wide receiver impacts an offense, but true freshman Jake Smith filled the void with a pair of touchdown receptions.
- Multiple offensive linemen were injured during the game and missed time. In recent seasons those types of calamities mired the Texas offense.
- Devin Duvernay’s ability to slip tackles and get up field is worth the price of admission. It might look like trainers smear Crisco on the #6 uniform, but those moves underscore the team’s work in the weight room.
Those elements are part and parcel to the program’s culture under Herman. Although the shift in values, mission, and vision is pervasive, it’s ongoing. It is not complete, and if you ask Herman, he would likely never want it to get there.
Consider Herman’s post-game remarks on Jamison’s kickoff return, “We played our tails off on that play. I made sure to tell D’Shawn that he needed to go and thank the other 10 guys. They all did a great job of straining and giving great effort. That’s not human nature…you know, who cares about this kickoff? They played that kickoff like it was the opening kickoff of the Super Bowl.”
Make no mistake, the essence of the program was on display Saturday night…after a critical mistake in the game prior, there was a blatant effort to involve running back Keontay Ingram throughout the game, starting with the Longhorns’ first play from scrimmage.
Herman even admitted during his post game remarks that he thought it was important for Ingram to have a good game. His statement confirms the intent and the game was it’s execution – two things that are powerful individually, but when combined, the growth is exponential.
Saturday night was quarterback Sam Ehlinger’s most complete four quarter effort this season. As Ehlinger and the Horns dissected the Owls, the first half had a surgical feel to it. More than fiery passion, Saturday was cool, calculated execution.
The defense dazzled too. Rice did not cross the 50-yard line until the third quarter when the first wave of Texas reserves were playing.
Special teams had several noteworthy moments as well. In addition to Jamison’s kickoff return, Cameron Dicker booted a 57-yard field goal to close the first half. Take a bow Yancy McKnight.
The win went beyond going 1-0 this week. This was a program statement that was nearly as immaculate as Larry Fedora’s facial hair.
Even if it comes against an overmatched team, sometimes a win is more than just “a win”. Saturday night was one of those times.
Texas has arrived.
Each week Matt Cotcher will continue to build “The Story of the Season” as it unfolds.
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