Texas establishes tough, physical reputation in win over Kansas State

Nick Castillo

Tyrone Swoopes sloshed his way into a rain-soaked end zone, completing a 23-9 win over Kansas State.

The tough running by the junior quarterback from Whitewright embodies the reputation Texas is trying to establish.

“We just kind of line up and run at people,” Swoopes said. “Our offensive linemen have gotten real physical. We’ve got physical [running] backs. We found our identity, and, with that, we just kind of play with it.”

Swoopes found the end zone three times against the Wildcats while running for 50 yards on seven carries. The 6-foot-4, 244-pound quarterback wasn’t the only rusher who had success Saturday. Redshirt freshman quarterback Jerrod Heard and running backs senior Johnathan Gray and sophomore D’Onta Foreman rushed for a combined 207 yards Saturday, adding to the Longhorns’ rugged rushing attack.

“I think we really are identifying with [being physical],” said Jay Norvell, wide receivers coach and offensive play-caller. “They take a lot of pride in it. It takes a certain kind of mentality.”

Texas’ physical mentality begins on the offensive line. The unit looks the most cohesive it has in years, opening up holes for its running backs and attacking defenders.

“[The offensive line] has played two straight weeks where we’ve been able to control the line of scrimmage,” Strong said. “We just got to continue to improve there. … They’re doing a really good job. They’re staying on blocks and moving people at the point of attack.”

Junior offensive lineman Kent Perkins said accountability has been key in the offensive line’s improvement.

“We have been getting better,” Perkins said. “The key thing for the O-line and, you know, the guy next to you — you built that bond, and you are all on the same page. That’s when things happen like today.”

The offense is establishing a tough reputation, and the defense is following suit. The defense started the season with a rough first three games but has improved in Big 12 play. After giving up an average of 512.3 yards per game in its first three games, the defense has only given up 379.75 yards per game in conference play.

Junior defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway said the defense has turned around because the players are out there for each other.

“Every team moves at a different pace,” Ridgeway said. “Once we get our groove, we’ve got our groove. We got to keep it going.”

With two straight wins and a new-found identity, the Longhorns are starting to prove they’re tough.

“We’re definitely tough,” Gray said. “We got tough kids — tough, physical kids. Guys want to go out and play football. When we stay focused and mentally tough and fundamentally sound, we can be as tough as we want to be.”