There were 149 snaps taken in Texas’ 31-16 win over No. 17 TCU on Saturday. Here are five that ended up making a big difference:
1. TCU strikes first
Backed by a 5-for-5 passing performance from Shawn Robinson, TCU drove 46 yards over eight plays on the game’s opening drive. Texas defenders Gary Johnson and Brandon Jones eventually stuffed TCU running back Sewo Olonilua on a 3rd-and-3 rushing attempt, and TCU settled for a 46-yard field goal by Jonathan Song.
Texas has started on defense in each of its four games this season. The Longhorns picked off Tulsa quarterback Luke Skipper on the first play of a 28-21 win on Sept. 8. Maryland, USC and TCU, however, have combined to score 17 points on their opening drives.
2. Going for it
Against TCU, Texas twice kept its offense on the field for a fourth-down conversion attempt. In the second quarter, a give near midfield to Daniel Young backfired when the sophomore was met at the line of scrimmage. The Longhorns, however, had better success in the first quarter.
On its second possession, Texas faced a 4th-and-4 at the TCU 41. UT quarterback Sam Ehlinger kept the drive alive with an eight-yard pass to Collin Johnson. Six plays later, running back Tre Watson rumbled into the end zone on a three-yard run.
Watson’s touchdown gave Texas its first lead over TCU since a 30-7 win in 2013.
3. Another highlight against TCU
Texas WR Collin Johnson went FLYING for the TD catch!
The Longhorns took down No. 17 TCU! pic.twitter.com/5b1EAZADyw
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) September 23, 2018
TCU entered halftime with a 13-10 lead thanks to a back-shoulder catch by Jalen Reagor in the first half’s waning seconds. Reagor’s hands may have provided the afternoon’s top highlight had it not been for Johnson, who one-upped Reagor with a spectacular catch with 45 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
With Texas now behind 16-10, Johnson beat TCU cornerback Jeff Gladney on a post route. A diving Johnson caught up with Ehlinger’s 31-yard pass. The catch and Cameron Dicker’s ensuing extra point put Texas up by a point, and the Longhorns never trailed again.
This was not the first time that Johnson scored on Gladney. In last year’s 24-7 loss at TCU, Johnson out-leaped the all-Big 12 honorable mention honoree for a 33-yard touchdown catch.
Collin Johnson is out of the dog house and back to making insane catches. Here's the 33-yd TD. pic.twitter.com/txfL1I05bS
— Ezra Siegel (@SiegelEzra) November 5, 2017
4. Turnover time
TCU went to the air following Johnson’s touchdown catch, but Texas safety Caden Sterns bested Robinson for his second interception of the day. (Sterns thwarted a trick play thrown by receiver KaVontae Turpin in the second quarter). Sterns appeared to score on a 35-yard return, but a review confirmed he stepped out-of-bounds at the TCU 2. On the next play, Ehlinger ran into the end zone.
Sterns’ interception was UT’s third turnover of the third quarter. Jones recorded an interception and recovered a fumble that was forced by defensive lineman Marqez Bimage. Robinson was responsible for all three turnovers, and UT turned two of those miscues into touchdowns.
5. Put it away
— Texas Longhorns (@TexasLonghorns) September 22, 2018
Down by eight points, TCU wasted a 14-play drive when it missed a 41-yard field goal. Texas then killed six minutes off the clock on a 10-play possession that was capped by Lil’Jordan Humphrey’s 38-yard touchdown catch. Assisted by Ehlinger buying time with his feet and a downfield block from Johnson, Humphrey recorded his team-leading 21st catch on the play.
Humphrey has caught a touchdown in three straight games for Texas. That ties him with eight other players for the seventh-best streak in school history. Jordan Shipley scored in a school-record eight straight games during the 2008 season.