Offensive line bullies K-State as Johnathan Gray gets 103 yards in rain-soaked victory
Posted October 24th, 2015
Texas fans who schlepped in, stood in the rain and got intimate with a $5 poncho should take comfort. The quarterback hated Saturday’s monsoon, too.
“I don’t like wet games, I can tell you that right now,” Texas’ Jerrod Heard said. “I was mad. I already knew what kind of game it was going to be.”
Texas found a winning formula two weeks ago against Oklahoma, and there’s no sense changing it now — come hell or high water. Plenty of both rained down on Kansas State in a 23-9 victory that gives UT more traction heading into a winnable stretch.
Safety Jason Hall almost knocked K-State’s Joe Hubener out on the game’s first play at Royal-Memorial Stadium. The Longhorns’ offensive line followed suit with a nasty performance, helping the offense pile up 274 rushing yards. UT is now 3-4 overall, and locker room confidence is rising.
“That’s Texas! That’s us. That’s what we’re supposed to be,” cornerback Duke Thomas said. “Those things are supposed to happen. When we execute, those things are going to happen. When we have the confidence, we can execute.”
In many respects, what Texas has done in two consecutive victories is play Charlie Strong football. Control the line of scrimmage, win by running the football and play rock-solid defense.
K-State (3-4 overall, 0-4 in the Big 12) came into the game with the best run defense in the Big 12. But Johnathan Gray had 103 yards while Heard and Tyrone Swoopes combined for 111 more. Swoopes scored from 1, 2, and 10 yards out, mostly from the Horns’ so-called “18 Wheeler” package in short-yardage situations.
“You have to be physical,” Strong said. “We talk about mental toughness and physical toughness. You say it, and they hear it over and over. But you need to have a physical presence.”
Heard told the coaching staff he couldn’t really grip the wet football, so throwing would be a problem. He attempted only one over-handed pass in the first half and didn’t connect downfield until late in the third quarter.
Saturday was an offensive lineman’s game from start to finish. Kent Perkins returned at right tackle after missing two games with a knee injury. The Horns’ starting five mauled the Wildcats as Gray (5.7 yards per carry), D’Onta Foreman (4.3) and Chris Warren (9.5) all found regular running room.
Teams that control the line of scrimmage control a game’s pace. Texas ran the ball 13 times on its opening drive and ate 6 minutes, 37 seconds off the clock. The final result was Nick Rose’s 28-yard field goal, but it set the tone.
“The key thing with an O-line is when you know the guy next to you,” Perkins said. “You build that bond, and you’re all on the same page, that’s when things happen like today.”
K-State packed the line of scrimmage after halftime as UT managed just 45 yards on its first three drives after the break. But the defense was so dialed in at that point, it didn’t matter.
Hubener, like Heard, couldn’t get it going through the air. He completed only 10 of 22 passes for 97 yards. “We were very limited in what we were able to do today,” K-State coach Bill Snyder said.
Safety Dylan Haines essentially made a game-ending interception at the Texas 48 with 3:02 remaining. Given a chance to run an entire drive, Swoopes came out and ran for 13 and 29 yards. Then, he took off around the right side for a 10-yard score.
“What offensive lineman wouldn’t love running straight at people?,” Swoopes said. “I feel like they love it, and they’re doing a good job with it.”
Linemen love rainy days. It’s understandable if fans don’t. The scoreboard looked good, though.
“Rate it? It’s an A,” defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway said. “We won. That’s how you rate it.”