BEVO BEAT

Our 4 Texas-West Virginia pregame questions — answered

Posted November 18th, 2017

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Saturday, we looked at four questions that Texas was facing ahead of its matchup with West Virginia.

Here’s how they played out:

1. Did Texas’ depleted secondary hold up?

Yes.

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Losing Will Grier in the first quarter definitely had an impact on West Virginia’s passing game; Grier, after all, is one of the nation’s top quarterbacks and three Mountaineers receivers had shots at breaking the 1,000-yard milestone for the season. This was going to be the first real test not having Holton Hill back there, and to make matters worse, backup cornerback Josh Thompson and nickel back P.J. Locke III missed the game with injuries. Texas, which was allowing 252.3 passing yards a game (that ranks 102nd nationally), gave up 239 but didn’t allow any big scoring plays. Grier’s backup, Chris Chugunov, was 14 of 26 for 189 yards in three-and-a-half quarters. There were a couple of 30-yard gainers, but the Longhorns would take that. DeShon Elliott, Jason Hall and Davante Davis all had good days.

2. Did Texas keep going for it on fourth down?

Yes.

The Longhorns were faced with only one kick-it or go-for-it moment, a fourth-and-1 from West Virginia’s 11-yard line in the second quarter. Sam Ehlinger gained 8 yards on a quarterback keeper to set up a first-and-goal. The kicking game has been an issue; junior college transfer Joshua Rowland went 7 of 14 on field-goal attempts before he was replaced last week by Mitchell Becker, who missed a 44-yarder in his only attempt. After that miss, Texas coach Tom Herman decided to go for it on all five of the fourth downs the Longhorns faced inside Kansas’ 40-yard line. Texas converted three of them.

3. Did Reggie Hemphill-Mapps make an impact?

Yes.

It was quality, not quantity, for the redshirt freshman. Hemphill-Mapps had five touches — two catches, including a 50-yarder for a first down on third down, a receiver reverse play that went for 5 yards, and two punt returns, including a nifty one for 15 yards in traffic. He’s only six weeks removed from a 12-catch performance against Kansas State — the fourth-best total in school history. But he suffered a knee injury two weeks later; he didn’t miss any games but Texas’ second-leading receiver had been a nonfactor recently. Over his last three games heading into Saturday, he had one catch and had returned four punts.

4. Did Texas pick up the crucial road win?

Yes.

And the Longhorns are going bowling because of it. Texas was only 5-12 away from Royal-Memorial Stadium since the start of the 2015 season heading into Saturday’s game, while West Virginia had gone 16-3 at Milan Puskar Stadium in that same time span. That included a 28-20 win over Texas in 2015, the last time these teams played in Morgantown.

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