Texas running back D'Onta Foreman breaks away for an 81-yard gain in the second half of the AT&T Red River Showdown between Texas and Oklahoma held at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas on Saturday, October 10, 2015. (RODOLFO GONZALEZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Football

Running and hitting: Can Texas keep winning the Charlie Strong way?

By gobbling up clock, Longhorns want to limit their opponents' possessions

Posted October 12th, 2015

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Coach Charlie Strong secured his first signature win at Texas by playing his style and doing what he was comfortable with. Run the ball, gobble up clock and play suffocating, smash-mouth defense.

That’s the recipe he wanted all along.

Now, whether a ball-control style can deliver championship results in today’s scoreboard-crazy Big 12 remains to be seen. But Texas certainly hit on a winning combination in the 24-17 win over Oklahoma.

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Texas coach Charlie Strong celebrates after the Longhorns beat the Oklahoma Sooners, 24-17, during the AT&T Red River Showdown at the Cotton Bowl on October 10, 2015 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Texas coach Charlie Strong celebrates after the Longhorns beat the Oklahoma Sooners, 24-17, during the AT&T Red River Showdown at the Cotton Bowl on October 10, 2015, in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

The Longhorns ran the ball a season-high 58 times, the highest total since November 2013. The offensive line paved the way for a season-high 313 rushing yards. That meant 20 first downs and a season-best time of possession of 31 minutes, 55 seconds.

In turn, Oklahoma ran only 65 plays, almost a dozen below its average. The longest OU play on the ground went for 15 yards. The UT defense won first- and second-down battles, too. On average, the Sooners faced 10.1 yards to go on third down.

“There’s so many offenses in this conference that can strike and score at any time,” Strong said on Monday’s Big 12 conference call. “When we have the ball, we can make sure that we can establish the run. When you do that, you limit the possessions of your opponents.”

Strong said the team’s third-down defensive performance “has been really bad.” The Horns still have the second-worst third-down conversion percentage in the league. Opponents have been reaching the first down marker 49.4 percent of the time.

As for his team’s overall effort, Strong said, “Now that I’ve seen it, there’s no reason we can’t do it all the time.”

Injury updates: Strong said the Longhorns will “get a good sweat going” this week, but will probably pull back on physical contact, as is normal for an off week.

Right tackle Kent Perkins (knee) was on the sideline in street clothes. He will be evaluated this week, Strong said. It’s unclear whether he’ll be able to return against Kansas State on Oct. 24. Strong didn’t seem worried about defensive tackles Hassan Ridgeway and Poona Ford, who both suffered shoulder injuries against the Sooners. Both players finished the game and each had a sack.

Receiver Daje Johnson went through warmups last Saturday in full pads as part of UT’s concussion protocol, a UT spokesman said. However, he did not play. He should be cleared to play against Kansas State.

Normally, the team goes through its regular work week and players are released early on Fridays. There are usually no team activities on Saturday during an off week.

More honors: Linebacker Malik Jefferson was named the Big 12’s co-defensive player of the week along with Oklahoma State’s Emmanuel Ogbah. Jefferson had six tackles and two sacks, helping him win the Walter Camp national defensive player of the week honors, too.

The Longhorns were also picked as the AutoNation national team of the week, as selected by the Football Writers Association of America.

Kickoff time: The Kansas State-Texas game will kick off at 11 a.m. on Oct 24, the league announced. That will be the Longhorns’ third straight early kickoff. The game will be broadcast on FS1.

Tickets on sale: The Kansas State and Kansas athletic departments have returned large blocks of visitor tickets. The UT ticket office is offering these at discounted prices. A limited number of Kansas State tickets are available for $30; Kansas tickets are $25. A majority of the seats are located in the northeast corner of the upper deck at Royal-Memorial Stadium.

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