LUBBOCK — Starting in place of the injured Collin Johnson, Jerrod Heard made a significant contribution in Saturday’s 41-34 win over Texas Tech.
Texas announced ahead of the game that Johnson would sit after tweaking his knee in Wednesday’s practice. Without him, quarterback Sam Ehlinger still threw for 312 yards. Junior Lil’Jordan Humphrey stayed on the Biletnikoff Award’s radar with an eight-catch, 159-yard, two-touchdown performance. Junior Devin Duvernay took deep (39 yards) and short (one yard) routes to the end zone. The first catch of freshman Malcolm Epps’ career went for 18 yards.
Lost in the shadow of Humphrey’s game-winning touchdown catch, though, was Heard’s first start this season. He ran as the slot receiver as Humphrey moved over to Johnson’s “X” position. Texas, though, also had Heard learn some of Johnson’s old routes so that it could run a few plays with Humphrey at his normal position.
“(Heard) did all of that within about 48 hours and came up really, really big for us in critical moments,” said Texas coach Tom Herman, who chuckled while noting that the public address announcer at Jones AT&T Stadium kept referring to Heard as “Jared.”
Heard’s six catches and 10 targets were only exceeded by Humphrey. His nine-yard catch in the first half got Cameron Dicker close enough to kick a career-long 52-yard field goal. Heard extended a scoring drive in the third quarter with a third-down catch. He had an 11-yard reception that was recorded three plays before Humphrey won the game.
Saturday was the latest chapter in Heard’s story at Texas. He moved to receiver after starting 10 times at quarterback in 2015. He had moments as a sophomore and junior but had hadn’t found much playing time this fall. The senior had three catches over UT’s first nine games, which gave him one fewer reception than Ehlinger.
Still, Heard told reporters that he was still having fun in his final year. He’s been recently used as a blocker on UT’s kickoff and punt return teams and “I’m having the best time out there.”
“I really enjoy every morning when I wake up and I see those guys in the locker room. That’s my drive,” Heard said. “I can’t stay another extra year, but I love those guys to death. It’s going to be real special next weekend (at UT’s final home game).”
DBU is dinged-up: Like Johnson, safety Brandon Jones was ruled out before Saturday’s kickoff with a nagging ankle injury. By the end of the game, he wasn’t the only defensive back on UT’s injury report.
Defensive backs Caden Sterns (head) and Josh Thompson (ankle) both made early exits. Davante Davis created two turnovers in the red zone, but his day was ended by what Herman called an “ankle sprain and knee pain.” Senior nickel back P.J. Locke III injured his toe in the final quarter but remained in the game.
The injuries forced Texas to dig into its depth chart. Making his second appearance of the season, sophomore Donovan Duvernay was playing on key snaps in the fourth quarter. Freshmen defensive backs Anthony Cook and B.J. Foster also got some reps. Sophomore safety Chris Brown started for only the second time in his career.
“It’s the epitome of our program,” Locke said. “We train for chaos and this was a chaotic situation.”
On the offensive side, running back Keaontay Ingram injured his hip pointer for the second time this season. He still led Texas with 83 yards, and one of his 14 carries was a 2-yard touchdown run.
Reunited in Lubbock: The dramatic win spoiled the senior night of Texas Tech safety John Bonney, who was a Longhorn as recently as the middle of August.
Bonney played at Texas from 2014-17. He left the Longhorns after the first week of fall camp and joined the Red Raiders as a graduate transfer.
Bonney was recognized ahead of Texas Tech’s final home game. He started and had two tackles. Afterward he was spotted hugging and speaking with many of his old teammates.
— Danny Davis (@aasdanny) November 11, 2018