FORT WORTH — Texas may have planned to throw three quarterbacks at the nation’s eighth-ranked scoring defense, but the Longhorns really only used one in the 24-7 loss to TCU.
Shane Buechele took the bulk of the snaps. A concussion sidelined freshman Sam Ehlinger for a second straight week, while junior Jerrod Heard was limited to one play. Buechele was sacked seven times and completed only 21 of his 44 pass attempts. (Buechele entered the game with a 71.9 completion percentage).
On Thursday, Texas coach Tom Herman told reporters that all three of his quarterbacks were “probably going to play at one point or another.” He even teased a possible start by Heard, who moved to receiver last year after running UT’s offense in 2015.
Herman, though, said Ehlinger was ruled out after suffering a setback that was related to an inner-ear problem. Center Zach Shackelford and running back Toneil Carter, who also recently suffered head injuries, traveled to Fort Worth but did not suit out.
Herman later added that the team installed a three-play package for Heard. Heard lost two yards on his only carry.
“Being down 10 points and needing to go move the ball a little bit, and not, in my opinion, experiment. That wasn’t the time to throw that out there and say ‘Hey, let’s see if this works,” Herman said. “If we continue to have that package, we’ll do a better job of getting him in early and testing the water earlier in the game.”
Close but no cigar: Over its first eight games, Texas had stuffed 12 of the 14 fourth-down attempts it had faced, a success rate bettered nationally only by San Diego State, which was a perfect 8 of 8 in such situations.
On Saturday, TCU was perfect on fourth downs. And both had dire consequences.
Sewo Olonilua caught a first-quarter pass from receiver KaVontae Turpin, and the TCU running back turned the fourth-and-2 play into a 20-yard gain to the Texas 1. The Horned Frogs scored the game’s first touchdown on the next play.
The trick play was nearly broken up by defensive lineman Chris Nelson, but the football eluded his fingertips.
“I was mad at myself the whole time going to the sideline,” Nelson said. “If I would have caught it, I would have tried to take it all the way to the end zone.”
And with 4:23 left, Darius Anderson was given the football on a fourth-and-1 as TCU was attempting to put away the game. He scored from 31 yards out to give TCU a 24-7 lead.
Powerful punts: Michael Dickson averaged 50.8 yards on nine punts. He came into the game averaging 48.4 yards a punt, which ranked third in the country.
His first punt was a 76-yarder that Turpin failed to field. It was the longest kick of Dickson’s career and tied for the fifth-longest in school history (Alex Waits, 1990). The longest punt in UT history is 82 yards, shared by Alan Lowry and Jack Collins.
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