Texas linebacker Joseph Ossai (46) pressures Oklahoma State quarterback Spencer Sanders (3) at Royal-Memorial Stadium on Sept. 21, 2019. [Stephen Spillman for Statesman]

Football

Texas’ notable number: Dual-threat QBs against Tom Herman’s Longhorns — and the number 6

Posted October 30th, 2020

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Each week this fall, we’re looking at a specific number that’s tied to Texas football.

This week’s notable number is 6 — the jersey number that Texas has assigned to receiver Joshua Moore and linebacker Juwan Mitchell. Moore has caught six touchdowns this season, which ranks fifth nationally. No Longhorn has matched or exceeded the six touchdowns that Ricky Williams scored against both Rice and New Mexico State in 1998.

Six also accounts for the number of quarterbacks who have attempted 15 passes and 15 rushes during a game against a Tom Herman-coached team at Texas.

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Texas Tech’s Jett Duffey did it in 2018. Oklahoma State’s Spencer Sanders, Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts, Baylor’s Charlie Brewer and Utah’s Tyler Huntley all did it last year. TCU’s Max Duggan attempted 30 passes and had 17 runts in a win over Texas earlier this month.  The Longhorns have gone 3-3 in those six games.

TCU quarterback Max Duggan (15) runs into the end zone during the fourth quarter of a 33-31 win over Texas in Austin on Oct. 3, 2020. [RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]
Since sacks are counted as rushing attempts in college football, both Duffey and Huntley’s inclusion in this club comes with an asterisk. Sanders, though, is an undisputed member. In a 36-30 loss to Texas last year, he threw for 268 yards while completing 19 of his 32 passes. He ran it 18 times and matched a career high of 109 yards.

One season later, Sanders is quarterbacking a sixth-ranked team that hosts Texas on Saturday. The undefeated Cowboys are averaging 28.5 points over four games.

“Very very difficult offense to defend against because of those two great skill players in (running back) Chuba Hubbard and (receiver) Tylan Wallace,” Herman said. “Now you do add Spencer Sanders and his true dual-threat capabilities back there. I know (Texas defensive coordinator) Chris Ash will have some sleepless nights this week for sure.”

Signed out of Denton Ryan, the 6-1, 205-pound Sanders was rated by 247Sports’ composite rankings as the eighth-best dual-threat quarterback in the 2018 recruiting cycle. He missed most of this season’s first three games due to an ailing ankle, but he did start against Iowa State last week.

Sanders has completed just under 71% of his passes this fall. He’s averaging four years per carry.

“He’s a very good player. He’s quick, he’s fast, he’s got a quick release,” Ash said. “He’s really a challenge and fits perfect in their offense on what they want to do. Absolutely, he’s going to be a huge challenge here this weekend, being able to contain him in the run game and also put some pressure on him in the pass game. He’s dynamic.”

Sanders is one of two quarterbacks to top 100 rushing yards against Texas since the start of the 2017 season. Of the 366 yards he compiled in a 34-27 win last year, Hurts picked up 131 yards on the ground.

This season, the Longhorns are yielding 2.9 yards per carry to opposing quarterbacks. Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler did score on a 1-yard run in overtime at the Cotton Bowl. And on Oct. 3, a 26-yard score by Duggan provided TCU with the winning points in a 33-31 triumph.

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