Texas notebook: Breckyn Hager returns to the spotlight to help cool Cowboys

Posted October 21st, 2017


A product of Westlake High stood out on Saturday for Texas. It just wasn’t the one that many expected.

Junior defensive end Breckyn Hager recorded both of UT’s sacks and added a quarterback hurry in a 13-10 overtime loss to Oklahoma State. With three sacks on the season, Hager, who only has seven tackles, now shares the team lead with Charles Omenihu.

“I just knew there was a lot of opportunity out there for me, and I had to go take it,” said Hager, who said he was down on himself after dropping an interception against Oklahoma last week. “I was like, ‘You know what, I’m going to move on, I’m going to be positive and I’m going to go get after practice, preparation.’ Got here and had to go get it.”


After starting five games last year and becoming a fan favorite, Hager had mostly been relegated to a third-down pass-rushing role this season. Hager said the coaches “can use me however they want,” but he found more ways to get involved on Saturday. Earlier this week, Texas indicated it would rely more on its role players in an effort to stop Oklahoma State’s high-octane offense.

One of Hager’s sacks came on third down, forcing a punt. The other was a first-down takedown. Oklahoma State, which was leading the nation in total offense, was held to 428 yards of offense, nearly 200 below its average.

Hager, who graduated from Westlake in 2015, teamed with Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger in the Chaparrals’ 2014 season. Hager said he tried to comfort the freshman quarterback who threw for 241 yards but had his final pass intercepted in overtime.

“We know what we’re trying to build here,” Hager said. “We always talk about what we can do. I try to show him what I know and he takes that upon himself to lead the entire team with everything else.”

Texas wide receiver Dorian Leonard (8) is tackled by Oklahoma State’s A.J. Green (4) at Royal-Memorial Stadium on Oct. 21, 2017. Leonard led Texas with his four receptions. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

Shut down: Oklahoma State entered the week with the Big 12’s top passing defense. Texas receivers had some moments, but they were mostly held in check.

John Burt recorded a 90-yard catch down the sidelines in the second quarter, his first reception since a 6-yarder against Maryland in the season opener. Dorian Leonard had a team-high four catches in his first start of the season. Leading receivers Reggie Hemphill-Mapps and Collin Johnson, though, combined for five catches and Hemphill-Mapps left with a knee injury.

Senior Armanti Foreman also was held without a catch. He hadn’t played in the previous two games and was relegated to fielding punts after Hemphill-Mapps’ injury. Foreman still ranks third on the team in receptions and has three of the five touchdowns that have been caught by receivers.

The inactivity of Foreman, whose brother, D’Onta, was on the sidelines during the Houston Texans’ bye week, was not lost on his father, Derrick:

Kickin’ it: Following last week’s record-tying performance against Oklahoma, punter Michael Dickson was busy on Saturday. He punted 11 times against Oklahoma State and averaged 50.9 yards per kick. Five of his punts landed inside the 20.

Last week, Dickson’s average of 55.0 yards-per-kick tied his own school record. He’s averaging 49.03 yards per punt this year, which is well above the school-record average of 47.4 that he set in 2016.

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