WHY TEXAS (2-0) WON: Missing six starters, the Longhorns plugged in backups, reconfigured the offensive line, saw some new faces make big plays, and cruise-controlled past UTEP. For the second straight week, Shane Buechele did not disappoint. After a solid Week 1 performance (16-26-280, 2/1), he was 22 of 27 for 244 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Even without D’Onta Foreman, the running game looked fine. And the defense gave up one big play, but otherwise controlled the night.
WHY UTEP (1-1) LOST: Because New Mexico State, which made Miners running back Aaron Jones the nation’s leading rusher after one game, is a far cry from Texas. Jones finished 125 yards off his Week 1 tally. Penalties were real killers. A 15-yard hands to the face gave Texas a first down at UTEP’s 29, and Buechele threw a touchdown on the very next play. UTEP’s third possession of the day started at the 8 because of a Miners penalty on a kickoff. There was a blocked punt. The Miners were only 3 of 15 on third-down conversions.
THE EYES OF TEXAS: … were on three specific Miners — running back Aaron Jones, whose 249-yard day last week against New Mexico State had him entering Saturday as the nation’s leading rusher; linebacker Alvin Jones, Aaron’s twin brother who led the Miners in tackles in their opener; and wide receiver Cole Freytag, who caught a touchdown in the first game.
How’d they do?
Aaron Jones had 18 carries for 123 yards and a touchdown.
Alvin Jones had six tackles, which was third on the team.
Freytag was quiet — two catches for 12 yards.
Offense: Shane Buechele. Another solid effort (through two games, he’s 38 of 53 for 524 yards, with six touchdowns and one pick) through the air, but he also added 34 rushing yards on 11 carries.
Defense: Kris Boyd. Downed one punt at the UTEP 1-yard line. Forced a fumble on another punt when he hit the returner. Also was in on a tackle for loss.
THIS AND THAT:
(1) Michael Dickson continues to impress. After averaging 55 yards on six punts against Notre Dame, he averaged 50.4 yards on five kicks against the Miners.
(2) Malcolm Roach, the freshman outside linebacker, recorded the first sack of his career. It was on a third down, and it led to the punt that Brandon Jones blocked. Roach also had one of the biggest hits of the night when he popped a UTEP receiver in the fourth quarter.
(3) Jerrod Heard produced the first and last scoring plays of the night, a 29-yard touchdown catch that was his first as a Longhorn and a 7-yarder in the fourth quarter.
TEXCETERA: This was the 50th win of Charlie Strong’s career; he’s now 13-14 at Texas. The seven points are the fewest allowed by Texas since the 28-7 win at Oklahoma State in 2014. … Offensive linemen Alex Anderson and Elijah Rodriguez had their first career starts, as did safety Kevin Vaccaro. Other first-timers making their UT debuts were OL Terrell Cuney, QB Matthew Merrick, LB Johnny Tseng, RB Trenton Hafley, RB Tristian Houston, OL Garrett Graff and OL Garrett Thomas, OL Denzel Okafor, WR Lil’Jordan Humphrey and DL D’Andre Christmas. … Jones’ blocked punt was the first for Texas since 2012 (Carrington Byndom, vs. Texas Tech). … Collin Johnson recorded his first catch, Jeffrey McCulloch had his first tackle and Jacorey Warrick and Dorian Leonard produced their first career touchdown catches.
ON DECK: AT CAL (Saturday, 9:30, ESPN or ESPN2): The Longhorns look legit through two games. That’s good, because the road trip to Cal is a potential danger game for Texas. Quarterback Davis Webb is a transfer from Texas Tech and he’s got a strong arm. Still, the Longhorns are 5-1 all-time vs. Cal, including a 2-0 record on the road against the Bears.