John Burt

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Texas rolling on both sides of the ball against Missouri in the Texas Bowl

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The last time Texas appeared in the Texas Bowl, things didn’t go well at all for the Longhorns.

Three years and a new coaching staff later, there’s a much different story to tell as the Burnt Orange took a 21-7 lead over old Big 12 rival Missouri going into halftime on Wednesday night.

In contrast to a few of the team’s games during the regular season, Texas head coach Tom Herman got plenty of production out of both sides of the ball. Offensively the team went with Shane Buechele as the starter at quarterback but both he and backup Sam Ehlinger found success against the Tigers defense. The two combined for 117 yards and a touchdown pass each, the first coming from Buechele to a wide open Daniel Young out of the backfield for a 22 yard score. Ehlinger didn’t have things quite as easy as that but did find John Burt from seven yards out as the wideout made a great catch to get six.

Young also added XX yards on the ground as the featured back.

The Longhorns defense also came to play despite being without a host of starters. Linebacker Anthony Wheeler recovered a fumble and ran it back 38 yards for a touchdown to extend the lead in the second quarter and Davante Davis also forced another fumble to cap off another stand for Todd Orlando’s unit. Ray Guy Award winner Michael Dickson showed why he was the best punter in college football with seven punts and six of them landing inside the opposing 20.

Mizzou looked like they were without offensive coordinator Josh Heupel, who was not with the team for the game after taking the UCF head coaching position. The Tigers started the game with three 3-and-outs and had five overall in the half — failing to record a first down until just before the start of the second quarter. Running back Ish Witter did run for 44 yards and a touchdown but fumbled, and quarterback Drew Lock didn’t look anything like the record-setter he was during the regular season with just 91 yards passing.

There’s still plenty of time left for both teams in the Texas Bowl but it’s pretty clear that the former Big 12 team has a little more work cut out for them than the current one.

Big 12 upset brewing in Austin? Longhorns tied 7-7 with Oklahoma State at half

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Don’t hit the upset alarm just yet, but No. 10 Oklahoma State is in a bit of a defensive battle on the road against the Texas Longhorns. After one half of play, the Cowboys and Longhorns are knotted at seven points apiece to set the stage for an interesting second half of play in Austin.

J.D. King gave Oklahoma State a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a seven-yard touchdown run. It came on Oklahoma State’s third possession of the game and at the end of a 96-yard drive. The next time the Cowboys had the football, another long drive for points was stalled when Justice Hill lost a fumble at the Texas 14-yard line. The Longhorns capitalized on the turnover by orchestrating a quick three-play 86-yard touchdown drive. Sam Ehlinger completed a 90-yard pass to John Burt on a 2nd and 16 and then Ehlinger took it in himself from two yards out on the next play to tie the game at 7-7.

No. 20 OU holds slight lead over Texas despite mistake-filled first half

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A mistake-filled first half has resulted in No. 20 Oklahoma out-gaining Texas by 251 yards but leading the ‘Horns just 14-13 through one half in Dallas.

After entering the season one of a handful of teams without an interception, Texas snagged two in the first quarter. The first came after Malcolm Roach hit tight end Mark Andrews, forcing the ball to ping-pong into the arms of safety Dylan Haines. The Longhorns did not capitalize on the score, but did snag another pick on the next possession when Haines caught a wide open pass thanks to one of the most obvious no-calls of the entire season.

Haines’ return set up Trent Domingue for a 33-yard field goal at the 5:21 mark of the first quarter.

Continuing the theme of capitalizing on mistakes, Oklahoma forced a fumble by D'Onta Foreman deep in his own territory, and three plays and 16 yards later Oklahoma had a 7-3 lead.

Texas answered with its only sustained drive of the half, an 8-play, 66-yard march capped by a one-yard Foreman run to give Texas a 10-7 edge 39 seconds into the second quarter. True freshman Shane Buechele struggled for most of the half — partly due to inaccuracy, partly exacerbated by poor protection — and never was that more obvious than on the ‘Horns next possession when, after a Joe Mixon fumble, he missed a wide open John Burt that would have staked Texas to a 17-7 lead.

Instead, Oklahoma struck next with a long score of its own, a 71-yard rainbow — the longest completion OU’s ever had against Texas — from Mayfield to Dede Westbrook, putting the Sooners back in front 14-10 with 4:02 to play in the half.

Texas closed the half with an 18-play, 64-yard drive ending in another Domingue field goal as time expired.

Oklahoma has gained 281 yards to UT’s 130, led by Samaje Perine‘s 11 carries for 87 yards and a touchdown. Mayfield has connected on 12-of-20 throws for 157 yards with a score and two picks.

Buechele has hit only 9-of-21 passes for 79 yards, and Foreman has been limited to 32 yards on 12 carries.

Texas, it’s worth noting, is 0-13 under Charlie Strong when trailing at the half.

Jerrod Heard and Jared Goff staging a duel in Austin

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A polished, pro-style passer and a raw, athletic freshmen have meshed their styles into an entertaining display of football in Austin as Texas and California are tied at 24-24 at the half.

Four mistakes cost the Bears from holding a lead, and probably a substantial one. First, Cal recovered a kickoff deep inside Texas territory after taking a 7-0 lead, but the Bears were offside and had to re-kick. Texas promptly marched 76 yards in eight plays, capped by a two-yard Jerrod Heard run, to tie the game at seven. Next, as Khalfani Muhammad was just strides away from strolling into the end zone for Cal’s second touchdown, Longhorns safety Kevin Vaccaro separated the running back from the ball, and UT’s Antuwan Davis hopped on the loose pigskin inside the end zone. Texas marched 71 yards to set up a 27-yard Nick Rose field goal, giving Texas its first lead at 10-7.

Third, with the Texas lead at 17-14, Cal was set to go for a 4th-and-1 at the Longhorns’ 21 – a situation Cal had won every time to that point – but the Bears were flagged for too many men in the huddle. Sonny Dykes had to settle for a field goal, and Matt Anderson‘s 44-yard field goal sailed wide right. And finally, facing a 3rd-and-3 at its own 27 just before the half, Goff was sacked and stripped by Shiro Davis, and Texas’s Desmond Jackson recovered the ball at the Cal 6. Gray rushed in one play later to give Texas a 24-14.

However, don’t let that take away from the fact Texas has made Cal pay for its mistakes.

Making just his second start, Heard has burned Cal’s defense with a number of long connections, completing 11 of his 15 throws for 222 yards. Daje Johnson has receptions of 54 and 45 yards, John Burt has a 43-yard grab, and Johnathan Gray nabbed receptions of 26 and 22 yards. Heard is also Texas’s leading rusher with seven carries for 42 yards and a touchdown, while Gray nine times for 40 yards and two scores.

One key mistake cost Texas its lead, as Heard was intercepted by Jalen Jefferson inside the final minute. He returned the ball to the Texas 30, and Anderson cashed in with a game-tying 33-yard field goal with four seconds to play.

Goff has dazzled as well, hitting 20-of-27 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns. Eight different Bears have caught passes, led by Stephen Anderson with five grabs for 47 yards. Vic Enwere has rushed 10 times for 61 yards.

Texas will receive to open the second half.

And the young shall inherit the ‘Horns, Heard leads UT past Rice

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After one of the longest weeks in recent memory, in which the team was shellacked in South Bend, leading to Charlie Strong to demote play-caller Shawn Watson and Mack Brown washing his hands of the mess he left behind, it was safe to say Texas needed this. Jerrod Heard and a bunch of freshman led the Longhorns to a 42-28 win over Rice, in what felt like a ceremonial turning of the page from whatever the past six years have been to whatever the next few years could become.

Heard, a redshirt freshman and a two-time state champion from Denton, Texas, earned the first start of his career and made an immediate impact, accounting for 78 yards (40 passing, 38 rushing) on an 80-yard opening touchdown drive. Heard and an explosive punt return unit (141 yards between returns by Daje Johnson and Duke Thomas) pushed Texas to a 21-0 lead after one quarter.

It was the third quarter, however, that showed the promise of what Texas football could become. Heard opened the frame by hitting true freshman John Burt for a 69-yard touchdown, the team’s first third quarter touchdown in 13 games. The Longhorns pushed the lead to 35-14 when true freshman Kris Boyd forced a Driphus Jackson fumble and true freshman Malik Jefferson picked it up and raced 26 yards for a touchdown. Sophomore D’Onta Foreman closed the quarter with a two-yard touchdown plunge.

In all, Heard finished the game by completing 4-of-7 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns and rushing 10 times for a team-high 96 yards.

In showing its promise, Texas also revealed its limitations on Saturday night. While the Longhorns won the odd-numbered quarters 42-0, they lost the evens 28-0. Rice consistently exploited a soft underbelly in the Longhorns’ defense, rushing 58 times for 228 yards and converting 13 of their 17 third downs. Those stats allowed Rice massive advantages in first downs (30-11), total plays (96-38), total yards (462-277) and time of possession (44:02 to 15:58). If not for Texas’s explosive plays in the passing and kicking games and a 5-1 turnover edge, Rice could easily have won this game.

Texas (1-1) moves to 41-1 since 1966 against Rice; the ‘Horns have now marked a full 50 years since last falling to the Owls in Austin. The Longhorns will host California next week in a critical game for Strong and company. Rice (1-1) visits North Texas next week.