Texas has a 20-7 lead over UTEP at the half.
One week after the Horns wowed the nation with an overtime win over Notre Dame, the drama has been at a minimal level but a 13-point lead works all day long for a team looking to be 2-0 entering next week’s game at Cal.
A few thoughts from the first half:
Juice gets loose
Jerrod Heard’s move to wide receiver has been a huge success through the first six quarters of the season. One week after being denied a long touchdown catch at the goal line, Heard got into the end zone for the first time at his new position with a 29-yard catch for the game’s first score. As you can see, Texas sideline reporter Quan Cosby (in the background) was happy with the play.
That gave him 102 yards on his first three touches in 2016. That was a fat 34 yards per touch before he caught a 1-yard pass later in the quarter.
Heard has become a fixture in Texas’ three-receiver rotation.
Notably quiet in the first half was big-play receiving option John Burt, who was not targeted until he caught a short pass with 6:44 remaining in the second quarter.
Petey makes amends
Wideout Jacorey ‘Petey’ Warrick nearly scored his first career touchdown in the first quarter but was stripped by Dante Lovilotte before he could cross the goal line, resulting in a touchback.
Undeterred, Warrick got into the end zone near the end of the first half on a eight-yard catch from QB Shane Buechele.
Apparently the program-turning win over Notre Dame took its toll. The Horns opened up minus four offensive starters — guard Kent Perkins, tackle Connor Williams, tight end Caleb Bluiett and running back D’Onta Foreman. Backup tackle Tristan Nickelson did not dress.
Over on the defensive side, safety Dylan Haines is out with a head injury.
It’s a smart move by Charlie Strong to rest the starters because the Horns should be talented enough to get past the Miners, even if they don’t cover 30-point spread.
At one point the Horns had all backups on the offensive line except for guard Patrick Vahe.
Texas will need all hands on deck at Cal next week though this game is by no means over.
Defense steady but not perfect
The Horns held the Miners without points for the 22 minutes of action until Aaron Jones, the nation’s leading rusher, burst through the right side of the line for a 51-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 10-7. Jones didn’t appear to be touched on the play.
It was the only major gaffe in the first half and you have to give credit to Jones, a quality back who has NFL potential. He has 114 yards through the first two quarters. Malik Jefferson and Co. allowed the Miners 150 yards in the first, 133 on the ground.
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