Johnathan Gray

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Texas’ leading rusher to undergo surgery on broken finger

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Texas’ 2015 season has, with one significant exception, been a giant middle finger pointed in the general direction of success, so it’s apropos that one of its few bright spots is having a digit issue.

Head coach Charlie Strong has confirmed that D’Onta Foreman will undergo surgery Thursday to repair a broken finger on his right hand.  The running back sustained the broken pinkie in the loss to West Virginia this past weekend.

Because of the surgery, Freeman’s availability for the Thanksgiving game against Texas Tech is decidedly unknown.

“We just don’t know the extent of the injury,” Strong said. “We’re not sure if he’ll be able to carry a football, at least not yet.”

Foreman currently leads the Longhorns in rushing with 681 yards and in rushing touchdowns with five.

Exacerbating the situation is the fact that Johnathan Gray suffered a foot injury in the WVU game and is listed as day-to-day for Tech. Gray is currently second among UT running backs with 489 yards.

UT will need to beat Tech and No. 10 Baylor to finish 6-6 and become bowl-eligible.

Not dead yet! Longhorns make statement in upset over No. 10 Oklahoma

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The demise of the Texas Longhorns has, somewhat, been exaggerated. A college football blueblood largely left for dead put the Big 12 on notice Saturday afternoon in Dallas by upsetting No. 10 Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry, 24-17. After the game the players hoisted head coach Charlie Strong up as if the team had just won a national championship. You know what? Texas deserved that moment to release some tension with a unified show of joy.

After being flattened last week by TCU, Texas was a program in a big mess with players tweeting at halftime and upperclassmen and underclassmen not seeing eye-to-eye. This was also a good Oklahoma team Texas just defeated. The Sooners climbed to a top 10 ranking after flexing some muscle against West Virginia and showing some good things on offense. None of those good things showed up early enough against the Longhorns though.

Texas held Oklahoma to fewer than 100 yards of total offense in the first half. The Sooners converted just three of their 12 third-down plays, while Texas managed to go 9-of-15 on third downs. For Texas, it was all about getting the running game going to take Oklahoma out of it from the start. D’Onta Foreman led all players with 117 yards and quarterback Jerrod Heard added 115 rushing yards to go with his selectively efficient passing performance (8-of-10 for 53 yards and a touchdown). Johnathan Gray also chipped in with 76 rushing yards. Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine carried the football 10 times for just 36 yards and a touchdown. Considering the production Perine showed last season, this was another disappointing result for the Sooners. Perine has rushed for more than 78 yards in a game just once this season (152 yards vs. Tulsa).

This was the first victory in the rivalry game for Strong, and the second win in three years against the rival Sooners for the Longhorns. This season may still be a huge rebuilding year for Texas, but a win against Oklahoma can help the rebuilding process pick up the pace after starting the season with a 1-4 record. There will still be some difficult games ahead for Strong’s Longhorns (Baylor, Oklahoma State, West Virginia), but everybody in Austin deserves at least one day just to celebrate this win few people saw coming.

Texas looks to make it two wins in a row in two weeks when the Longhorns come off a bye week against Kansas State. Oklahoma will take on Kansas State next week in Manhattan.

Texas OL Sedrick Flowers calls out teammate for lack of preparation

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The dubious officiating and special teams disaster drew the headlines, but the real reason a 27-24 late fourth quarter lead turned into a 30-27 loss for Texas to No. 20 Oklahoma State was the Cowboys’ ability to collapse the Longhorns’ offensive line time and again in the second half. And the reason that happened was the precipitous drop off from starting right tackle Kent Perkins to his backup Marcus Hutchins.

Oklahoma State defensive end – and future NFL player – Emmanuel Ogbah consistently evaded Hutchins or pushed him into Jerrod Heard‘s lap, contributing to an offensive slide that saw the Longhorns follow an 11-play, 97-yard touchdown drive by closing the game with six punts (four three-and-outs), a turnover on downs, and an interception. Six of those drives traveled less than 10 yards.

On Monday, fellow offensive lineman Sedrick Flowers called out Hutchins’ apparent lack of preparation. Though he didn’t mention Hutchins by name, it didn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out who he was talking about.

“I think what happened is a lack of preparation by the backup,” Flowers told the Austin American-Statesman. “I feel as though he didn’t foresee (an injury). I don’t think he took that into consideration when he was preparing. He just saw this week as another week that he wasn’t gonna play. If he would have taken more time in practice and film review, took it more seriously, then it would have been different.

“You can’t use ‘I had no reps’ as an excuse.”

Luckily for Texas, Perkins hasn’t been ruled out of Saturday’s game with TCU – a game where the Longhorns enter as the biggest underdogs they’ve been since Mack Brown‘s first seasonCharlie Strong listed Perkins as day-to-day. “KP is a big deal for our offense,” running back Johnathan Gray told the paper. “That might have hurt us. We can’t afford to lose guys like him. We need him to help us.”

Unspecial teams cost Texas again in loss to No. 24 Oklahoma State

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For the second week in a row, Texas appeared headed to overtime until a critical kicking mistake cost the Longhorns at the worst possible time. Instead of Nick Rose missing an extra point, this time it was punter Michael Dickson watching a long snap split his hands and hit him in the face mask, costing Texas a chance at overtime and instead setting up a 40-yard Ben Grogan field goal with six seconds left as No. 24 Oklahoma State escaped Austin with a 30-27 victory.

The win lifts Oklahoma State to 4-0 (1-0 Big 12) and drops Texas to 1-3 (0-1 Big 12) for the first time since 1956.

Dickson’s mistake was the final in a long list miscues and coin flip calls that went against the Longhorns. Texas had two touchdowns and a long interception return taken off the board due to penalty, the latter thanks to a dubious pass interference call on Paul Boyette, Jr. The Longhorns, leading 27-24 deep in the fourth quarter, were also called for a defensive holding call on tackle Poona Ford in which ESPN cameras and commentators struggled to find an infraction. The flag was compounded by an unsportsmanlike conduct call against head coach Charlie Strong, directly leading to a 41-yard Grogan field goal that tied the game with 1:33 to play. It was at the end of the ensuing possession that Dickson failed to snag the punt snap, allowing the Cowboys to win a game in which quarterback Mason Rudolph started fast and ended miserably.

The sophomore led an Oklahoma State offense that came out firing, marching 144 yards in 14 plays over its first two drives as the Cowboys staked a 14-3 lead. But Rudolph and the Pokes created more offense for Texas than themselves from that point on, as Rudolph lost a fumble that Hassan Ridgeway returned 34 yards for a touchdown that allowed Texas to pull within 14-13 in the second quarter and threw a 41-yard pick six to Holton Hill that led Texas reclaim a 27-24 lead with 1:34 to play in the third quarter.

A week after Jerrod Heard and the Texas offense electrified the crowd and carried the team, the ‘Horns attack struggled to gain momentum against a tough Oklahoma State front. Texas ran for 158 yards in the first half, and only 13 in the second as Emmanuel Ogbah and company sacked Heard seven times while permitting him only two completions in eight second-half tries. For the day the redshirt freshman completed 9-of-17 throws for 119 yards and an interception while being credited with 48 yards on 19 carries. Johnathan Gray led the Texas ground efforts with 55 yards on 11 carries – but 56 of them came on one rush. Tyrone Swoopes returned to action as an effective short-yardage back, rushing three times for 35 yards and a score.

Oddly enough, it was the defense that carried Texas for much of the day. Oklahoma State rushed for only 103 yards on 46 carries, while Rudolph threw for 290 yards, but also threw two interceptions – on back-to-back throws – and lost a fumble. Mike Gundy alternated between Rudolph and J.W. Walsh toward the end of the game, and gave up on throwing completely on the Pokes’ final two drives.

Overall, Oklahoma State out-gained Texas 395-290, held a 26-11 first downs advantage, converted 9-of-17 third downs while holding the ‘Horns to 4-of-16, and benefitted from 16 Texas penalties. And, of course, watched one fateful snap rip through Dickson’s hands.

Missed PAT costs Texas as California outduels Horns, 45-44

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We noted at halftime that a plethora of mistakes was the only thing keeping California from holding a substantial lead over Texas. But it was one crucial mistake that cost Texas, as a Nick Rose missed PAT prematurely ended a three-touchdown rally and allowed California to hold on for a 45-44 win in Austin.

First, how they got there. Thanks to an offside penalty that cost them a fresh possession deep inside Texas territory, a fumble at the Longhorns goal line and another one near their own and, finally, a procedure penalty that led to a missed field goal, Cal – a touchdown favorite in most books – found itself down 24-14 with 1:32 to go in the first half after Johnathan Gray charged in for a six-yard touchdown run, his second of the half. But the Bears immediately marched 75 yards in four plays, capped by a one-yard Vic Enwere run, to pull within 24-21, and Jalen Jefferson stepped in front of a Jerrod Heard and raced it back to the Texas 30, leading to a 34-yard Matt Anderson field goal that knotted the game at 24-24 at the half.

Cal opened the second half by scoring touchdowns on all three of its third quarter possessions: a 42-yard march punctuated by another one-yard Enwere plunge, a three-yard Jared Goff pass to Kenny Lawler, and a 74-yard Khalfani Muhammad dash, to grab a 45-24 lead.

It was a 21-0 quarter and, in total, a 31-0 run dating back to the end of the first half that put the game completely out of reach… until it wasn’t.

Texas rallied in the fourth quarter, getting a 13-yard Heard run to pull within two scores with 13:24 to go, then a 27-yard D’Onta Foreman dash to pull within one touchdown at the three minute mark. Facing a potential game-ending 3rd-and-7 at the Texas 44, a Goff pass was dropped deep in Texas territory and the Longhorns stayed alive. Heard moved the Longhorns 81 yards in six plays, dashing 45 yards for his third score of the day, seemingly tying the game with 1:11 to go. And then Rose missed the extra point.

California recovered the onside kick and, with Texas out of timeouts, that was that. The Bears (3-0) held on for an important non-conference win, and Texas (1-2) found another way to lose a game in a half-decade full of them.

Goff completed 27-of-37 passes for 268 yards with three touchdowns and one fumble, hitting nine different receivers on the night. Lawler was his top target on the night, snaring six passes for 79 yards and two scores. The Bears rushed for a combined 280 yards and three scores; Muhammad racked up 164 yards on 10 carries, and Enwere notched 73 yards and two touchdowns on 16 attempts.

In just his second start, Heard flummoxed California on the air and the ground. The redshirt freshman connected on 20-of-31 passes for 364 yards with one interception and rushed 24 times for 163 yards and three scores with one fumble. Two weeks after Texas posted 163 yards – total – in a blowout loss at Notre Dame, Heard racked up 527 by himself. Daje Johnson grabbed five receptions for 145 yards, and Gray posted four grabs for 71 yards to go with 11 carries for 46 yards and two touchdowns.

In all, Texas outgained Cal 650-548 and held a 28-26 first downs advantage.

California visits Washington next week, while Texas hosts No. 25 Oklahoma State.