A stretch of four rather poor outings for quarterback Sam Ehlinger and this Texas football team finally got going in the right direction in Week 14.
A very much needed win for the Texas football program finally came on Nov. 29, the morning of Black Friday, against the in-State Big 12 foe Texas Tech Red Raiders. Head Texas football coach Tom Herman had more pressure on his shoulders than any other in the Big 12 coming into this Black Friday showdown against first-year head coach Matt Wells and his Red Raiders.
What the Texas Longhorns football program was able to do against Texas Tech is what the fans waited for most of the stretch run through Big 12 play. The Longhorns came into this game having lost two in a row and three of their last four. The last two losses came at the hands of the Iowa State Cyclones and Baylor Bears. And that third loss in the last four games came against the TCU Horned Frogs. But those three losses all came on the road.
Moreover, it seemed like if the Longhorns wound up losing their third straight game they would hit rock bottom. It was good that Texas reached that elusive six-win mark to hit bowl eligibility a few weeks back. That would be unnecessary pressure and a bad look for the program in general.
Texas had a record of 6-5 (4-4 Big 12) as they tried to knock off the falling four-win Red Raiders. Yet another solid start to a season for Texas Tech amounted to missing the postseason and a steep decline down the stretch. This time it just occurred under a different coaching regime instead of former head coach Kliff Kingsbury.
Yet, Texas Tech came out firing on all cylinders against the Longhorns in this regular season finale. A 14-0 Texas Tech lead in the first quarter made it look as if they would continue to milk this recent downward spiral for the Longhorns.
But a strong response from junior Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger and this rushing attack early in the second quarter got his team back into the game. True freshman running back Roschon Johnson also has his best game of the season so far with 105 yards on the ground and a whopping three scores.
Ehlinger registered 348 passing yards and two touchdowns through the air. He went 19-of-27 passing and didn’t have any picks. On the ground, Ehlinger picked up 83 yards on 10 attempts and added one touchdown. Ehlinger was efficient in the spots he needed to be. And his efforts on the ground helped to keep the flow of the offense balanced.
The efforts of senior wide receiver Devin Duvernay should also be mentioned under a bright spotlight. On just six catches, Duvernay amassed 199 receiving yards and one touchdown. A lot of his production came on a 75-yard touchdown catch. Duvernay set a career best in single-game receiving yards against Texas Tech.
Quite the way to put a bow on his Longhorns career on Senior Day.
The Longhorns also amassed an impressive 610 total yards on offense, 262 of which were on the ground. They were 50 percent on converting third down plays, on 12 attempts. And the run defense flexed their muscles by allowing just 71 yards on the ground to Texas Tech. The defense also helped by forcing two turnovers on the Red Raiders.
Other numbers that mattered in this game were the 203.1 quarterback rating, which was Ehlinger’s best in Big 12 play this season. On a bad note, Texas amassed nine penalty calls for 100 yards, which could be a detriment if they continue the undisciplined play in their bowl game.
Getting the best of Texas Tech by the final score of 49-24 gave Herman and the Longhorns exactly what was needed to alleviate the pressure on this coaching staff. There was a nice outing for a lot of the Longhorns skill position players to rest their laurels on heading into the postseason.
Texas moves to 7-5 (5-4 Big 12) to finish out the regular season with this win over Texas Tech. They’ll be waiting on how the Oklahoma State Cowboys, Iowa State, and Kansas State round out their games in Week 14 to get their bowl placement.