BEVO BEAT

Third and Longhorns: Inside Texas 33, Missouri 16

Posted December 28th, 2017

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A deeper look inside Texas’ 33-16 Texas Bowl win over Missouri:

Why Texas (7-6) won

Maybe there was some backs-against-the-wall mojo going on. The Longhorns, after all, were missing four of their best players — heck, arguably their four best players, actually — in Connor Williams, DeShon Elliott, Malik Jefferson and Holton Hill yet somehow still got things done. An Anthony Williams fumble return, a P.J. Locke III strip and forced fumble, a Breckyn Hager fumble recovery, a Davante Davis forced fumble and game-sealing interception, and several impressively placed punts by soon-to-be-NFLer Michael Dickson made up for the fact that those key starters were missing, that Texas was down to two running backs and one tight end, and that the Longhorns were starting their ninth different offensive line combination of the season. And the bounces literally went the Longhorns’ way — the two fumble recoveries and the safety out of the back of the end zone.

Why Missouri (7-6) lost

Maybe it was SEC bias, or the fact that Drew Lock was leading the country in touchdown passes, or that the Tigers had won six straight games heading into Wednesday. But the Tigers looked like a middle-of-the-pack SEC team. Lock got hot in the  third quarter but Texas was able to withstand the push. Ish Witter went over the 1,000-yard mark for the season but really cost the Tigers on that fumble that Wheeler returned for a score. And critical penalties hurt, too. Texas’ opening drive of the game was aided by pass interference, defensive holding and facemask penalties that were worth 40 yards, and a third-down roughing the passer call kept Texas’ first drive of the fourth quarter alive, resulting in a field goal.

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Lock got his 44th touchdown pass of the season, but Texas got the win.

The Eyes of Texas

The Longhorns kept their eyes on three specific Tigers — Lock, Missouri’s third-year starter whose 43 touchdown passes broke the SEC’s single-season record and led the country; running back Ish Witter, who went over the 1,000-yard mark for the season Wednesday night; and defensive end Marcell Frazier, working against a reconfigured offensive line that was missing All-American left tackle Connor Williams.

How’d they do?

Lock was 18 of 34 for 269 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. The offense really struggled in the first half — five three-and-outs and two turnovers in 10 drives.

Witter had 17 carries for 57 yards and a touchdown — and one critical fumble, which Wheeler returned for a score.

Frazier had four tackles, two tackles for loss and two quarterback hurries.

Game balls

OFFENSE

Armanti Foreman: In his final game as a Longhorn, he led the team in catches and iced the game with a late touchdown run. His brother, Houston Texans running back D’Onta Foreman, was there to see it.

Sam Ehlinger: The freshman stepped up in the second half in place of injured starter Shane Buechele and helped Texas push back a third-quarter Missouri rally by taking the Longhorns on two long drives that ate up valuable clock. And his lead blocking on Foreman’s touchdown was reason enough for a game ball.

DEFENSE

Breckyn Hager: Wearing Tommy Nobis’ revered No. 60, Hager had a fumble recovery and a tackle for loss.

P.J. Locke III: Made plays left and right in place of DeShon Elliott. Locke was second on the team in tackles and forced the fumble that Wheeler returned for a touchdown. He also had a pass breakup and a quarterback hurry.

This and that

… from Kirk Bohls’ seat in the press box:

Horns up

On the first possession of the game, Buechele led Texas to an opening-drive touchdown for the third time this season (Sam Ehlinger did it once in 2017), hitting Daniel Young on a 22-yard wheel route to complete a drive helped more than a little by three Missouri penalties for 35 yards.
The Longhorns defense, often lining up in a three-man with huge gaps between them, held Missouri to 61 yards and only one first down in the opening quarter.
All-American punter Michael Dickson pinned Missouri deep in its own territory all night long with seven kicks to the Tigers 10 or inside the 10.

Horns down

Drew Lock threw for just 91 yards in the first half and almost duplicated that on the first play of the second half, zipping a bomb to Johnathon Johnson for a 79-yard touchdown as the Missouri receiver got behind Antwuan Davis.
Texas took over the ball at midfield once as well as its own 48 and 44 and the Missouri 28 without realizing a single point from those offensive possessions.

Offensive play of the game

Daniel Young was Texas’ leading rusher of the game, but also its top receiver with two of his catches on a surprising wheel route scored a touchdown and set up another.

Defensive play of the game

Linebacker Anthony Wheeler scooped up a fumble in Missouri territory, dodged one Tigers player and stiff-armed another en route to a 38-yard touchdown return for the Longhorns’ eighth non-offensive touchdown of the year.

Texcetera

With the win, Texas improved to 18-6 all-time vs. Missouri and 28-24-2 in bowl games. The Longhorns also now are 5-1 at NRG Stadium. … Dickson, who was named the game’s MVP, matched his career high with 11 punts — 10 of which were downed inside the 15, eight inside the 10 and four inside the 5. He averaged 47.4 yards per punt this season, tying a school record. … John Burt’s first-quarter touchdown catch was his first of the season. … Linebacker Gary Johnson had a career-high 10 tackles along with a pass breakup and a quarterback hurry.

On deck: The offseason

Texas, which has the country’s No. 3-ranked recruiting class heading into the second national signing day period on Feb. 7, will look to fill some holes heading into 2018. Two quarterbacks who signed on Dec. 20 — Cameron Rising and Casey Thompson — will be early enrollees who’ll go through spring football and compete with Buechele and Ehlinger. And there are plenty of big shoes to fill, including Williams at left tackle, safety DeShon Elliott, cornerback Holton Hill, defensive tackle Poona Ford and possibly linebacker Malik Jefferson, who hasn’t said one way or the other whether he’ll jump ship to the NFL.

We’ll get our first look at what Tom Herman cobbles together for his second season on Sept. 1, 2018 — Texas at Maryland.

The post Third and Longhorns: Inside Texas 33, Missouri 16 appeared first on Hook ‘Em.

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