BEVO BEAT

Our four Texas-USC pregame questions — answered

Posted September 17th, 2017

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On Saturday morning, we looked at four questions that Texas was facing ahead of its matchup with fourth-ranked USC.

Here is how they played out:

1. Did Texas’ RBs create some depth chart separation?

No.

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Chris Warren III, coming off his big 166-yard day last week against San Jose State, had an opportunity to establish himself. But neither he nor Kyle Porter did much against the Trojans. Warren finished with 15 yards on only 4 carries; Porter had 9 yards on 5 carries. Sam Ehlinger ran it 19 times. USC was allowing 216.5 rushing yards a game coming into Saturday night but gave up only 68 to the Longhorns. For an offense that wants to be able to run the ball, Texas has been able to do that only once in three games.

2. Did Joshua Rowland cure what’s ailing the kicking game?

Yes.

Rowland, who was 0 for 3 on field goals in the first two games, connected on a 39-yarder to open the second half. That cut the Trojans’ lead to 14-10. But it was the kick that he didn’t get to try — what would have been a 35-yard attempt on Texas’ first drive — that loomed large at the end of a three-point double-overtime loss. Longhorns coach Tom Herman opted to go for it on fourth-and-3 from USC’s 18-yard line. Texas didn’t convert. Rowland’s misses (from 42, 43 and 44 yards) were perhaps reason enough for Herman.

3. What position (or positions) did Jerrod Heard play?

Two: Quarterback and wide receiver.

Herman said during his Monday press conference that Heard likely would get wildcat snaps the rest of this season. With Shane Buechele out for the second straight week with his bruised shoulder, Heard was used again on spot snaps to relieve Ehlinger. But after scoring twice against San Jose State, Heard was quiet against the Trojans. He had 4 carries for 11 yards and didn’t make a catch.

4. Did Tom Herman stay perfect vs. Top 25 teams?

No. But he came thiiis close.

Herman was a perfect 6-0 vs. Top 25 teams heading into Saturday’s game with the fourth-ranked Trojans, all earned as the head coach at Houston. That included a 2015 bowl win over Florida State and a 33-23 win over Oklahoma and 36-10 win over Louisville in 2016. And he was 3-0 vs. Top 5 teams. Things certainly looked like that streak would move to 7-0 when the Longhorns rallied to take the lead with less than a minute left, but maybe 45 seconds is too much when you’re talking about Sam Darnold and all those weapons he has. By the way, three of Texas’ next four games are against the nation’s No. 2-, No. 9- and No. 18-ranked teams.

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