Texas Longhorns head coach Tom Herman argues a call with a officials NCAA college football game in Manhattan, Kan, at the Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018. [RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]

Cedric Golden

American-Statesman Staff

Column

Golden: New play caller Tom Herman, Horns break the Snyder House Rules

Posted September 29th, 2018

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Story highlights
  • The Texas Longhorns beat Kansas State 19-14
  • Texas snapped a five-game losing streak in Manhattan that dated back to 2002
  • Tom Herman called the plays with offensive coordinator Tim Beck back in Austin with an infection
  • The Horns improved to 4-1 entering Saturday's showdown against Oklahoma
  • Oklahoma scored 60-plus in its win over Baylor

MANHATTAN, Kan. — For the first time this season, we can assume we knew who called the plays in a Texas football.

His name? Tom Herman.

Final grade? ‘W.’

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It’s the only letter that matters.

It wasn’t pretty, but the result will go under the “Desired” list.

Texas 19, Kansas State 14.

This was huge because Bill Snyder Family Stadium has been a veritable house of horrors for past Texas teams, some of them miles better than the 2018 version. The Old Man in the purple jacket has ruled supreme over the Horns in the Little Apple and with an able assist from Ron Prince, whose 2006 team beat the Horns 45-42. Wildcats teams had won five in row here over the Horns in the 16 seasons since Marcus Tubbs’ blocked field goal  preserved a 17-14 UT road win in 2002.

“This is historically a ridiculously tough environment to play in,” Herman said.  “We will enjoy this one.”

On Saturday, the Horns exorcised some demons and broke the Snyder House Rules.  With offensive coordinator Tim Beck back home after undergoing surgery for a bacterial infection in his elbow, Herman opened up the playbook with a little bit of ingenuity, as Tre Watson and Lil’Jordan Humphrey both attempted passes. Shoot, starting quarterback Sam Ehlinger even completed one to himself down near the goal line.

Herman said his role didn’t change a whole lot with Beck out. Take that as you will.

“We had a lot of guys with a lot of good ideas,” he said. “On the the throwback (from Watson to Ehlinger) that set up one of our touchdowns, one of our guys said it’s time for this.  Our guys did a good job of rallying together to pump out some good ideas.”

Was it a masterful performance? No, because the Horns went the final two quarters without scoring against what’s admittedly not one of the Snyder’s better teams.

Will it be enough against Oklahoma?  No, 19 points won’t be enough against Sooners quarterback Kyler Murray, who threw for 432 yards and six touchdowns in the 66-33 win over Baylor. But the 14 points allowed will work and the Horns can build upon a momentum-building win and know half of the Cotton Bowl will be sporting burnt orange.

Will Texas take the win, though? Hell yeah. The Horns are 4-1 for the first time since 2012. This was a solid performance in a results-oriented business and impressive not because of how the Horns did it but where they did it.

“The older guys that have played up here know that watching Kansas State road film and playing them up here is a different thing,” said tight end Andrew Beck, whose pre-game mini-scuffle with a K-State player set the tone for a real mudder. “We knew before we got here it would be a harder game than what we expected.”

Herman spoke with his mentor Mack Brown earlier in the week and was advised to not believe the film from the Wildcats’ 35-6 no-show at West Virginia last week.

“He said make sure you tell your team the K-State team you see on video is not going to be the same K-State team you will  see in Bill Snyder Family Stadium Saturday afternoon,” Herman said. “You will see a more physical aggressive outfit. He was exactly right.”

Ehlinger? He played mistake-free ball for the third straight game. His numbers — 29-for-36 for 207 yards and a touchdown — were quietly effective enough to get the dub. His third-and-11 pass to Collin Johnson saved Texas’ bacon late in the fourth quarter and turned next week’s Red River meeting into a showdown with huge Big 12 title implications.

Aside from the 10 penalties for 104 yards — cornerback Kris Boyd was whistled for two pass interference penalties and a personal foul — the Horns got a special teams touchdown, a safety and some needed pressure from ends Charles Omenihu and Breckyn Hager.

It was a complete win.

After the nightmare at Maryland, the Horns are stalking the top 10 with their most successful stretch of ball in years.

Next up? Their biggest test to date.

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