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Texas Longhorns Football

Story of the Season: Chapter 5

Photo: Ben Queen - USA TODAY Sports



The Texas Longhorns traveled to Morgantown and beat West Virginia 42-31. In a game where the Texas offense struggled to find rhythm and consistency, the Longhorn defense turned in a workmanlike effort, that included four turnovers, to secure the victory.

TV and print media both tried to build a narrative that the game against WVU was a trap game for Texas. With a raucous crowd in the first half, and a stadium “striped” in school colors, Mountaineer fans certainly played their role and were hungry for a potential upset.

The game started on the media’s script with West Virginia’s opening drive being bolstered by two Texas penalties,  resulting in a 44-yard touchdown pass. The Mountaineers led 7-0 after less than 90 seconds. Texas went on to commit five penalties in the first quarter.

A turnover that led to a Texas touchdown signaled that the Longhorns were willing to trade punches for four quarters rather than play the role of a victimized favorite.

Despite entering the game with key injuries and seeing multiple players sidelined during the contest, the youthful Longhorns did not play their best game overall but produced in crucial spots throughout four quarters. Through five games that appears to be the personality of this year’s team: absorb punches for 60 minutes and counter with steady, consistent, physical effort on both sides of the ball.

Much like the win over West Virginia, this team’s style isn’t going to win many beauty pageants or shine brightest in one particular event or area. Instead Texas is content to be good, not great, at everything. And when a team can apply that kind of pervasive pressure throughout a game, they are usually going to emerge with a win.

Success punctuated by setbacks was on display in the first half in Morgantown. After converting three consecutive third down passes for first downs, Texas allowed a sack and missed a field goal. Then, after missing the kick, the Longhorns intercepted a Mountaineer pass on the next play.

The Horns thrive on the knife’s edge of alternating between good and bad plays. In a true team concept, players rely on each other to generate enough positives to overcome the negatives.

The Horns thrive on the knife’s edge of alternating between good and bad plays. In a true team concept, players rely on each other to generate enough positives to overcome the negatives.

This game produced plenty of pucker-worthy moments that, as a team, Texas had to overcome. Quarterback Sam Ehlinger made his worst decision in the first five games of the season with a backfoot throw into triple coverage that was easily intercepted. To Ehlinger and the offense’s credit, the same play had already produced a key first down when run on the opposite side of the field (Ehlinger completed a flag route to Devin Duvernay).

Also on the positive side of the ledger was the 11-play, 5-minute touchdown drive that evened the game at 14. The Horns used an effective mix of running and passing to keep WVU off balance. The drive also featured two rushes for Kirk Johnson, the fifth-year tailback who has been injured throughout his career.

The benefit to a balanced offense is it’s unpredictability – the downside is that there is not a ready-made play to default to when a positive is needed. The good news is that a balanced attack’s inherent difficulty to scheme against should outweigh any negatives over the course of a season.

Another positive note for the Horns was having young defensive backs make highlight reel plays that should build their confidence. D’Shawn Jamison’s interception is the obvious example but BJ Foster, Anthony Cook, Kenyatta Watson, and Tyler Owens all made contributions to the team’s win.


All in all the Longhorns spoiled a Chamber of Commerce Day in Morgantown by not succumbing to the siren song of mediocrity. Next up is a game against Oklahoma in Dallas. Whether Texas can make enough positive plays to stay on the right side of the knife’s edge remains to be seen.



Each week Matt Cotcher will continue to build “The Story of the Season” as it unfolds.


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

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