BEVO BEAT

Texas 38, Baylor 7: Shane Buechele looking good as Longhorns defense only gets stronger

Posted October 28th, 2017

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WACO — Baylor officials honored legendary Bears coach Grant Teaff on the McLane Stadium video board on Saturday. It’s been 25 years since he left the sideline, and he’s been a Waco fixture ever since.

Time sure flies, though. It’s been 39 years since Teaff was seen eating a worm in the locker room prior to Baylor’s upset win over No. 9 Texas.

Current Baylor coach Matt Rhule could’ve gobbled up every squiggly little creature from every bait shop in town and it wouldn’t have mattered. His winless Bears didn’t stand a chance against Tom Herman’s Longhorns, who weren’t perfect but cruised to a 38-7 win regardless.

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“I was shocked. They had a 5:45 a.m. wake-up call,” Herman said. “There were no dopey-eyed guys, there was no wipe the sleep out of their eyes, any of that stuff. They were intense and ready to go from the word jump.”

UT defensive lineman Charles Omenihu was ready. “I felt good,” he said. “Because it’s game day.”

UT defensive back Kris Boyd (2) celebrates a fumble recovery by John Bonney (24) in the second half at McLane Stadium in Waco on Saturday October 28, 2017. Jay Janner/American-Statesman

The Longhorns (4-4, 3-2 Big 12) had some constructive takeaways from what felt like a competitive practice against the 0-8 Bears.

Quarterback Shane Buechele showed that he is healthy again as those worries about his right ankle sank right to the bottom of the Brazos. He threw for 256 yards, ran for 42 more and went virtually untouched on a 28-yard touchdown dash.

“Shoot, it was good to be back out there,” Buechele said. “My body feels good. I was just excited to go out there with my guys and go get a win.”

Buechele received a text from freshman Sam Ehlinger on Friday night wishing him good luck and to have fun. This was Buechele’s first start in four weeks as Ehlinger mania has swept through Austin. But that’s where Ehlinger (concussion protocol) found himself stranded on Saturday afternoon after being sidelined by team trainers.

“It’s been tough, I”m not going to lie,” Buechele said. “But you have to stay focused. That’s the main thing.”

It was cathartic for the offensive line and coaching staff to see running back Toniel Carter get 70 yards on 15 carries. He also scored from 19 yards out. Freshman Danny Young had 60 yards and ran one in from 31 yards late in the fourth quarter.

Herman said the offensive staff knew they’d see multiple looks. The coach said his younger backs “slithered around in there when things were blocked perfectly, they found creases and threw their bodies through the creases.”

The Longhorns had 171 rushing yards against the 115th-best rushing defense in college football. “It was really big confidence boost for our offense,” left guard Patrick Vahe said. “That’s something that should be within our culture.”

The Longhorns’ commitment to the run actually set up the passing game. It helped them early and helped run out the clock late.

On UT’s best possession of the day, Carter ran twice for seven yards, then Buechele hit Collin Johnson for 10. Carter had a 15-yard gallop and then Buechele had completions for 14 and 10 yards. Texas pieced together an impressive 11-play, 90-yard drive to take a 14-0 lead. That’s how it’s supposed to look.

UT wide receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey (84) watches in a touchdown reception against the Baylor Bears in the first half at McLane Stadium in Waco on Saturday October 28, 2017. Jay Janner/American-Statesman

Other times, Texas was clunky. The Horns were 5 of 15 on third downs and 0 of 2 on fourth downs. The Horns are now 6 of 17 on fourth downs for the season.

It’s to the point where Herman may be second-guessing himself. He sent kicker Joshua Rowland on for a 19-yard field goal despite being on the 1-inch line. Herman simply wanted to make it a three-score game. Earlier in the day, Rowland had a 27-yard attempt blocked.

“I think we’ve been doing a little too much thinking,” UT receiver Lorenzo Joe said. “The 90-yard drive was big for us.”

The offense can be allowed its fits and starts because the defense continues to shine. Herman said the unit had “one bad drive,” but really it was one bad play. Charlie Brewer found Blake Lynch near the sideline, and Lynch took off for a 52-yard gainer to the Texas 3. Two plays later, John Lovett went in for Baylor’s only score.

“Yeah, it was tough,” linebacker Malik Jefferson said. “We got a missed read on a run. Guys played the run too fast and didn’t see the guy sneaking out.”

The only other big negative was that P.J. Locke III left the stadium on crutches. He’ll have an MRI done on Sunday. Carter was also being examined for a head injury, Herman said.

Elliott’s sixth interception now ties him for seventh-most in a given year in UT history. It’s to the point where Elliott can joke with fellow safety Brandon Jones and say, “You going to get your hands on the ball or not? You gonna let me catch all of them?”

UT defensive lineman Charles Omenihu forces a fumble by Baylor running back John Lovett (7) in the second half at McLane Stadium in Waco on Saturday October 28, 2017. Jay Janner/American-Statesman

John Bonney had two fumble recoveries. Omenihu forced a fumble, the first of his career. Holton Hill continues to put down impressive film for NFL scouts. He had six tackles, a pass breakup, forced his first career fumble and had an all-around physical day.

“The main thing is go hard at practice,” Hill said, “and when you’re number’s called, go in there and do everything we’ve been doing at practice.”

When different players are contributing each week, the defense is truly starting to build something concrete.

“I think that’s just a sign of maturity and great preparation, that when the play is there to be made, it doesn’t matter who’s in that position to make that play,” Herman said. “That guy is going to make it.”

The Horns are 4-4 with four games left. Teams need six wins to become bowl-eligible. “It sucks because we should be a lot better, honestly,” Jefferson said.

“The big picture is irrelevant right now,” Herman said. All he wants is to go 1-0 next week at fourth-ranked TCU.

Heck, Baylor would just love to beat anybody.

Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email bdavis@statesman.com.

The post Texas 38, Baylor 7: Shane Buechele looking good as Longhorns defense only gets stronger appeared first on Hook ‘Em.

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