Pass rush, strong running highlight Texas rout of the Red Raiders


Chelsea Purgahn

Junior running back Joe Bergeron has stepped up since an Achilles injury sidelined sophomore running back Johnathan Gray. Bergeron wore Gray's jersey in Thursday's game to honor the injured back.

Garrett Callahan

In its second game without the Aggies on Thanksgiving, Texas was able to run past Texas Tech 41-16 in the final home game of the season. With a game against conference-leading Baylor remaining, here are four key aspects to take from Thursday’s game:

Defensive front

Texas has had its struggles on defense this year, but, since defensive coordinator Greg Robinson has taken over the play calling duties from Manny Diaz, much has improved on the defensive front. So far this season, the Longhorns have recorded 35 sacks with nine of those coming against the Red Raiders. All of Texas’ sacks this season have come in its eight wins.

Senior defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat, who played more of a linebacker role Thursday, recorded a career-high three sacks in the game. Junior Cedric Reed added to the pass rush with two of his own, while also adding five tackles.

Case McCoy

Senior quarterback Case McCoy played in his last home game of his career Thursday coming off his worst performance of the season against Oklahoma State. McCoy tallied three interceptions with no touchdowns against the Cowboys, while Oklahoma State broke Texas’ six game winning streak.

McCoy threw for 180 yards against Texas Tech as he passed for two touchdowns and ran for another. The Graham native completed 10 of his 19 passes for an average of 7.3 yards a play.

“I understand I didn’t give my team a chance to win last week,” McCoy said. “Your job is to take care of the ball and manage the game, like I said I did tonight. It’s good in this stadium to bounce back and have a game like that.”

Texas still strong without Johnathan Gray

Junior running back Joe Bergeron wore No. 32 Thursday night in honor of injured sophomore running back Johnathan Gray, but, instead of just taking his number, he also took his identity. Bergeron, who has had limited playing time this year with fumbling issues, ran for 102 yards and a touchdown against the Red Raiders.

The Longhorns had two 100-yard backs on the night as junior running back Malcolm Brown recorded 128 yards himself. Texas’ running game took a shot when Gray got injured against West Virginia earlier this month. The remaining backs for the Longhorns have been able to fill the hole in the ground game without Gray, as Bergeron and Brown have held up their end of the work.

Big 12 title hope remains intact

After Texas started the season 1-2 for the first time since 1998, many laughed at head coach Mack Brown when he said a hope for a Big 12 title still remained. Eight games later, that faith is still intact. The Longhorns no longer control their own destiny after losing to Oklahoma State two weeks ago, but their rout of Texas Tech brought back some hope.

Texas needs to beat Baylor on Saturday for at least a share of the conference championship, and, if Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State, the Longhorns have a chance for the outright title. Look for Texas fans to root for their Red River rivals this weekend as they watch the Longhorns take on the Bears in their last game at Floyd Casey Stadium.