senior running back

Photo Credit: Sarah Montgomery | Daily Texan Staff

Entering the weekend, the Texas football season had been mostly noted for its missed opportunities. The Longhorns entered their matchup against No. 23 West Virginia 0-4 against top-25 teams, riding a seven-game losing streak against ranked teams.

All of that changed Saturday when the Longhorns played their best half of the season in the game’s first 30 minutes, and the defense held strong in the second half to beat the Mountaineers, 33-16.

The win marks the first time Texas has notched consecutive victories under first-year head coach Charlie Strong.

“It’s a really good win for our program,” Strong said. “We just, week by week, we continue to get better.”

The Longhorns managed to strike first on a 2-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes to senior tight end Geoff Swaim. The Mountaineers responded with a 48-yard kick return and managed to drive the ball inside the Texas 2-yard line.

However, the Longhorns held tough against the wall near the end zone, stuffing the Mountaineers on third-and-goal at the Texas 1-yard line. The Mountaineers came away from the drive with a field goal, but the goal-line stand made a statement.

“I think that kind of set the momentum,” senior linebacker Jordan Hicks said. “The crowd was into it; the defense was able to stop them. We got a few tackles for losses and held them there on the goal line. That’s gigantic.”

The Longhorns gashed the Mountaineers on the ground to the tune of 227 yards, including 101 yards by junior running back Johnathan Gray. Senior running back Malcolm Brown added 90 yards on the ground on 20 carries.

The duo was especially effective during the second quarter, in which the Longhorns scored 17 unanswered points, highlighted by two long runs from Gray.

The first went for 39 yards and a score, while the second run followed a 25-yard run by Brown, in which Gray hit the hole for a 40-yard gain. Gray capped the drive from two yards out to give the Longhorns a 21-3 lead.

“[The] offensive line did a great job opening holes,” Gray said. “They knew what we had to do to get the job done tonight, and they did it.”

On the other side of the ball, senior defensive end Cedric Reed dominated the Mountaineers’ offensive line with three sacks. Reed’s penchant for finding the quarterback was akin to his play last season, marking a bounce-back performance after recording only 1.5 sacks through the first nine games this year.

“Tonight, after I got that first sack, I went up to Coach [Chris] Rumph and told him, ‘Sacks come in bunches, so you better watch out,’” Reed said.

The Mountaineers ended up outgaining the Longhorns by nearly 100 yards but were held to a season-low 16 points and did not get into the end zone until early in the fourth quarter.

Texas won the battles on third and fourth downs, allowing West Virginia to convert only 3-of-17 third-down attempts and 3-of-5 fourth-down attempts.

“We had to win on third down, and we were able to win on third and fourth down,” Strong said.

The win was a step toward bowl eligibility for the Longhorns, who are now 5-5 on the season and need to win at least one of their final two contests. Despite defeating a top-25 opponent at home for the first time since 2008, some players were hesitant to call Saturday a signature win.

“I wouldn’t say that,” Reed said. “It’s just another win — another Big 12 win."

Photo Credit: Ethan Oblak | Daily Texan Staff

After getting shutout against Kansas State last weekend, the Longhorns looked to rebound against in-state rival Texas Tech in Lubbock. Both Texas and the Red Raiders sat at 3-5 overall heading into the matchup, seventh and eighth, respectively, in Big 12 standings.

10:08- Final in Lubbock, Texas deafeats Texas Tech 34-13: The Longhorns are now 4-5 on the season and will host West Virginia next weekend.

10:03- Fourth Quarter 3:20, Texas 34 Texas Tech 13: Red Raiders turn the ball over on downs inside the Texas 10. The Longhorns have scored their most points in Lubbock since scoring 35 in 2006 and are on pace for their longest win streak in the rivalry since 1966. 

9:56- Fourth Quarter 6:12, Texas 34 Texas Tech 13: Red Raiders take over from their own 41 after a punt. Longhorns have rushed for a season-high 232 yards tonight.

9:49- Fourth Quarter 9:30, Texas 34 Texas Tech 13: Senior safety Mykkele Thompson comes away with his first interception of the season.

9:40- Fourth Quarter 11:47, Texas 34 Texas Tech 13: Senior running back Malcolm Brown nearly scores from 10-yards out. He scores on the next play for his second score of the game and has rushed for a season-high 116 yards. It's the first 100-yard rushing performance of the season for the Longhorns.

9:34- Fourth Quarter 13:17, Texas 27 Texas Tech 13: Junior wide receiver Daje Johnson comes up with his longest play of the season on a 30-yard run.

9:28- Fourth Quarter 14:16, Texas 27 Texas Tech 13: Senior wide receiver Jaxon Shipley scores his first touchdown of the season on a four-yard grab from sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes.

9:20- End of the Third Quarter, Texas 20 Texas Tech 13: Longhorns have the ball on second down and goal from the Tech four. 

9:16- Third Quarter 2:06, Texas 20 Texas Tech 13: Senior wide receiver John Harris continues his big night with a 35-yard grab. Junior running back Johnathan Gray follows with 24 yards on two carries. Longhorns are threatening inside Tech's red zone. 

9:09- Third Quarter 4:12- Texas 20 Texas Tech 13: Sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes is unable to complete a pass to junior wide reciever Marcus Johnson. Longhorns punt. Red Raiders start drive at their own 37.

8:55- Third Quarter 7:41- Texas 20 Texas Tech 13: Senior wide receiver Jaxon Shipley fumbles the ball after a 14-yard reception. Red Raiders take over on their own 35-yard line. The play is under review.

8:49- Third Quarter 8:54, Texas 20 Texas Tech 13: Red Raiders turn the ball over on downs on the Longhorns 37. 

8:40- Third Quarter 12:02, Texas 20 Texas Tech 13: Longhorns settle for a 42-yard field goal after driving the ball 40 yards.

8:38- Third Quarter 12:47, Texas 17 Texas Tech 13. Sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes runs for 25 yards to bring the ball to the Texas Tech 25. 

8:13- End of the Second Quarter, Texas 17 Texas Tech 13: Longhorns will receive to start the second half.

8:12- Second Quarter 0:17, Texas 17 Texas Tech 13. Longhorns turn the ball over on downs on the Texas Tech 47. 

8:03-Second Quarter 2:59, Texas 17 Texas Tech 13: The Longhorns answer with a two play 85-yard drive led off by a 68-yard reception by senior receiver John Harris who has topped the century mark for the night. Junior running back Johnathan Gray takes it in from 17 yards out to put Texas ahead.

7:58 Second Quarter 3:34, Texas 10 Texas Tech 13: The Red Raiders drive 75 yards on nine plays, scoring on a six yard run by running back Kenny Williams.

7:55 Second Quarter 4:08, Texas 10 Texas Tech 6: Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes will be out the rest of the game. Timeout Texas Tech, which has the ball on third and eight from the Texas 16.

7:49- Second Quarter 7:01, Texas 10 Texas Tech 6: Tech quarterback Vincent Testaverde completes his first attempt of the game for 37 yards. The Red Raiders are driving and now have the ball inside the Texas 30.

7:46- Second Quarter 7:12, Texas 10 Texas Tech 6: Senior running back Malcolm Brown punches it in from three yards out to put the Longhorns back in front. 

7:40- Second Quarter 9:21, Texas 3 Texas Tech 6: Senior cornerback Quandre Diggs lights up Tech freshman quarterback Patrick Mahomes to force a fumble. Junior defensive end Shiro Davis recovers the fumble to put Texas in prime position to score.

7:29- Second Quarter 12:24, Texas 3 Texas Tech 6: Junior placekicker Nick Rose misses a 37-yard field goal wide left, keeping the score 6-3 in favor of the Red Raiders.

7:23- End of First Quarter, Texas 3 Texas Tech 6: Sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes is sacked for an 11-yard loss to end the first quarter. 

7:21- First Quarter 0:28, Texas 3 Texas Tech 6: The Red Raiders miss a 29-yard field goal attempt to keep the score at 6-3.

7:09- First Quarter 4:09, Texas 3 Texas Tech 6: Sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes is hit and fumbles the ball, which was recovered in the end zone by Texas Tech for a touchdown. Red Raiders missed the ensuing PAT to keep the score at 6-3 

7:05- First Quarter 4:20, Texas 3 Texas Tech 0: Longhorns force a third straight punt and start their next drive with the ball on their own 15-yard line

6:45- First Quarter 11:31, Texas 3 Texas Tech 0: Junior placekicker Nick Rose hits a 46-yard field goal to give the Longhorns the early lead.

6:36- Texas wins the toss and decides to defer. Red Raiders get the ball to start.

6:30- Texas and Texas Tech about to kickoff. Injury update: Daje Johnson and Kent Perkins both available for Texas tonight. 

The Texas defense was dominant for the game’s first 30 minutes, only surrendering 29 yards on 14 plays by the Sooner offense. But costly errors on special teams and offense buried the Longhorns into a 17-3 hole at halftime.
 
The Longhorns took their first drive for a field goal after having a fumble by senior running back Malcolm Brown overturned. The drive also included four of Texas’ eight first half penalties that hindered the offense. The Sooners took the ensuing kickoff back for a 91-yard touchdown return by Alex Ross.
 
Texas nearly answered with a 73-yard run by sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes, but most of those yards were negated by a holding penalty.
 
Oklahoma scored its second touchdown of the half on an interception return by Zack Sanchez early in the second quarter for a 17-3 Sooner lead.
 
The Longhorns responded on the ensuing drive, capped by a 38-yard touchdown grab on third and 12 by senior wide receiver John Harris.
 
Texas added a field goal late to cut the deficit to 17-13 at the break. But two poor snaps on the final drive could’ve cost Texas three points. 
 
The Longhorns nearly tripled OU’s time of possession in the first half, holding the ball for nearly 22.5 minutes. Texas outgained the Sooners from scrimmage 278-29 including a 106-8 edge on the ground. Longhorns have 14 first down’s to OU’s one.  Oklahoma didn’t convert a third down in four tries in the game’s first 30 minutes.
 
Senior receiver Jaxon Shipley has helped the Longhorns move the ball with seven receptions for 84 yards thus far.  Senior running back Malcolm Brown has 11 carries for 74 yards at the break and should finish with his best game this season.

As a senior, running back Malcolm Brown is leading a young offense during a time of uncertainty for the Longhorns.

Photo Credit: Ethan Oblak | Daily Texan Staff

As a four-year starter and offensive presence on the team, senior running back Malcolm Brown knew he’d need to be a leader this season. What he didn’t know was how inexperienced an offensive line he’d be leading.

“I’ve got to keep them positive. Keep them going,” Brown said. “You can tell when one of them isn’t playing like they want to. Those are the times you need to get in their ear and tell them, ‘It’s going to be all right.’”

Having a player like Brown in the team’s ears is comforting for the coaches, both on the field and from the sideline. Compensating for an offensive line with a combined five starts Saturday, Brown and running back Johnathan Gray became the go-to guys for guidance, confidence and production. When redshirt junior quarterback David Ash was first ruled ineligible against BYU, Brown and Gray’s importance increased once again. They knew they would shoulder the burden of easing sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes’ transition in his first career start.

“I tell [Swoopes], ‘I don’t need a great play. I just need you to manage it,’” Strong said Sept. 1, following his announcement of Ash’s ineligibility. “You’ve got two great running backs behind you.”

To start the season strong, Gray and Brown totaled 147 yards with two touchdowns out of a total 163 yards and three rushing touchdowns against North Texas. Although, against BYU, Texas’ offense gathered 258 yards, which weren’t nearly enough for the team to temper the Cougars’ 41-7 destruction of the Longhorns. 

Brown entered the season with a goal of recording 1,000 yards after gathering 904 last season. However, after Saturday’s disappointing loss, Brown now sets personal goals aside.

“I’m not really worried about individual type of stuff,” Brown said. “We just need to get this team back on track, and, as a senior leader, I need to try to get everyone on board and do as much as I can.”

Brown believes the team leadership will unfold in two ways: with goals for physical improvement and via psychological encouragement. During games, he says the playbooks and theories can work, but the team isn’t executing. Rather, it is letting small mistakes and single, out-of-place guys throw off entire plays. One botched play leads to the next, Brown explains, as players struggle to rebound after mistakes.

“I’ve just got to keep those guys positive,” Brown said. “When you first go out there and maybe don’t make the play that you want, you’re human, so you can get down on yourself. But you just need to stay positive. Keep on going, and keep yourself lifted up.”

Brown thinks belief is the key to success, buying into locker room posters reading, “Believe you’re unbeatable.” After last week’s game, the Longhorns’ record no longer reflects that. But Brown knows that the team can’t lose motivation just two games into the season, especially as his college career winds down. He knows that time is ticking and uses it as motivation, hoping his teammates will do the same.

Though Garrett Gilbert was the starting quarterback last season for Texas, head coach Mack Brown has yet to determine who will be the starter on the Sept. 3 opener against Rice.

Photo Credit: Caleb Bryant Miller | Daily Texan Staff

It’s the hottest topic on the Forty Acres: Who’s going to start as quarterback? Head coach Mack Brown and senior running back Fozzy Whittaker weighed in at the Big 12 Media Days.

Strong competition

The quarterback competition is alive and well. Garrett Gilbert, Case McCoy, Connor Wood and David Ash have battled for the starting job all summer, but none has been able to separate from the pack. The general consensus is that the job is Gilbert’s (last year’s starter) to lose, but senior running back Fozzy Whittaker quashed that theory.

“I wouldn’t say it as so much his to lose, but, since it’s open, it’s his to gain,” Whittaker said.

Each of the four has his strengths. Gilbert has the most experience, McCoy is smart and accurate, Wood has a ton of upside and a rocket arm, and Ash, according to Whittaker, is “the fastest of the four.”

Can you hear me now?

Without a true leader on the offensive side of the ball last season, the Longhorns tumbled, committing 30 turnovers and scoring just over 20 points a game. Usually, the leader of the offense is the one touching the ball on every play, and we’re not talking about the center.

“One of the quarterbacks needs to step up in times of adversity,” Whittaker said. “He doesn’t necessarily have to be vocal but he needs to be able to make plays — a presence in the huddle.”

According to Whittaker, Gilbert has improved in that department.

“Garrett has been more vocal and has stepped up and taken hold of the offense and been somebody that we can turn to,” Whittaker said.

Quarterbacks in hiding

The last time Gilbert spoke to the media was Thanksgiving night immediately after Texas’ 24-17 loss to the Aggies. Brown didn’t bring any quarterbacks to media day — though it would have been prime entertainment if he had showed up with all four of them — in an effort to protect them from the media.

“We chose to limit the access because we didn’t think any of the questions that could have been asked were healthy,” Brown said.

Among some of the questions that potentially worried Brown:
“Garrett, what happened?”
“Why did you guys throw so many picks?”
“What’s Bryan Harsin’s offense like?”
“Do you know it yet?”

QB-by-committee

Until one can distance himself from the rest, Brown might be forced to go into the season-opener against Rice on Sept. 3 with a three-man rotation.

“We could have three or four in the first game, we better hope somebody steps up and gets our attention,” Brown said.

But what if none of his quarterbacks do anything special and Brown is still flip-flopping his quarterbacks by November?

“I’ll probably be a truck driver then,” he said.