Texas tight end Cade Brewer scores a touchdown after catching a pass on a trick play against Oklahoma State on Saturday. [NICK WAGNER/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]

Football

Texas’ notable number: Trick plays for the Longhorns — and the number 25

Posted September 26th, 2019

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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 25 — the jersey number assigned to sophomore safety B.J. Foster. Texas has allowed 25 first downs on 58 third-down attempts, a .431 percentage that ranks 96th nationally. Chris Warren III needed 25 carries against Texas Tech in 2015 to set UT’s freshman single-game record of 276 rushing yards.

Twenty-five also represents the yardage of tight end Cade Brewer’s touchdown catch in a 36-30 win over Oklahoma State on Sept. 21.

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On the third quarter play, quarterback Sam Ehlinger took a shotgun snap and handed off to running back Keaontay Ingram. Ingram ran to his left and flipped the ball to slot receiver Jake Smith, who then gave it back to Ehlinger. After initially blocking safety Malcolm Rodriguez on the play, Brewer sneaked down the sideline and Ehlinger found him for an easy score and a 28-23 lead.

The touchdown was Brewer’s first since the 2017 season. He said the reverse-turned-flea flicker had actually been installed “a couple years ago, it didn’t really work out.” The Longhorns had practiced the play all week. It was dubbed “Cavalier” in the playbook since that’s the mascot of Brewer’s high school.

“I knew it was going to work,” said Brewer, who was signed out of Lake Travis in 2017.

Longhorns coach Tom Herman doesn’t like the phrase “trick plays.” At Texas, that sort of trickeration is referred to as “special plays.”

“We feel like they’re unique to that week’s game plan because of something special that you see in the opposing defense,” Herman said ahead of last year’s 48-45 win over Oklahoma. “There’s a variety of ways to keep defenses honest.”

Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger (11) catches the ball for a first down against Kansas State at the Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan, Kan., on Sept. 29, 2018. [RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]
Herman has said that Texas has four or five special plays in each week’s game plan. For those plays to be called, however, “stars have to align.”

The stars have aligned a few times since Herman’s arrival. Oklahoma State may have been keying on Smith on Brewer’s touchdown since he ran an eight-yard reverse earlier in the game. Last year, receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey tossed a touchdown to Collin Johnson. Receiver John Burt and Ingram also have attempted a pass.

Against LSU, Ehlinger caught an eight-yard pass from receiver Devin Duvernay. It was the eighth reception of Ehlinger’s career. He’s averaging 13.6 yards per catch but has yet to score. Three of those trick receptions, however, brought the football inside the opponent’s 10-yard line.

“That’s just great coaching and understanding that defenses don’t really have a man for the quarterback,” Ehlinger said last year after he nearly scored on a 21-yard catch against Kansas State. “Just funky little tricks up coach Herman’s sleeve, I guess.”

Texas is off this week, but the Longhorns will travel to West Virginia on Oct. 5. During UT’s last trip to Morgantown, in 2017, Ehlinger caught a 23-yard pass. Two weeks ago, North Carolina State receiver Thayer Thomas threw an 18-yard touchdown against the Mountaineers on a double pass.

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