Breathing a little easier, Longhorn Nation?
You should. As bad as last week’s season opener went, Saturday’s home opener was about as good as can be in Texas’ 42-28 win.
Let’s see, there was a lopsided victory, a solid performance from new starting quarterback Jerrod Heard, several big plays on both offense and defense, three big punt returns that helped set a school single-game record, and four forced turnovers.
Texas improves to 1-1. Rice falls to 1-1.
The Longhorns host Cal next Saturday night.
Heard was 4 of 7 for 120 yards and 2 TDs. He also had 10 carries for 96 yards. Freshman receiver John Burt had a 69-yard touchdown catch from Heard in the third quarter. Freshman linebacker Malik Jefferson returned a fumble 26 yards for another score. Daje Johnson wowed the crowd with two long punt returns — one was an 85-yard touchdown, the other a 31-yarder that set up another score. Duke Thomas also chimed in on the punt return game.
Tyrone Swoopes entered the game with 6:33 left in the game. He was 1 of 3 for 8 yards, and had an 8-yard scramble for a first down.
It wasn’t a big night for senior running back Johnathan Gray; he was expected to be a big part of the game plan, but ended up with only nine carries (17 yards) and one catch (8). That’s 25 total yards. He did score a touchdown, though.
Rice converted 14 of its 21 third down plays and had a whopping 30 first downs in all. The Owls outgained the Longhorns (462-277), outrushed the Longhorns (228-149), out-threw the Longhorns (234-128) and dominated in time of possession.
It didn’t matter. Texas produced seven plays of 25 or more yards, and that was enough.