Defense shows flashes, offense shines in Texas’ 41–7 win over UTEP

Tyler Horka

Jacorey Warrick was inches away from his first career touchdown on Texas’ first drive of the game Saturday night.

The senior receiver shook multiple UTEP defenders after catching a screen only to have the ball batted through the north end zone at the last second for a Miners’ touchback.

But Warrick redeemed himself with a touchdown grab in the second quarter as Texas went on to beat UTEP 41-7.

“I’m still thinking about that one,” Warrick said after the game. “It was just careless on my part … I’m glad that I was able to come back and get in the end zone and help the team out.”

Freshman quarterback Shane Buechele lofted a pass over the Miners’ secondary and right into Warrick’s mitts. The senior tapped his right foot on the turf before slamming his left out of bounds, putting Texas up 20-7 at halftime.

The Longhorns never looked back from there. Buechele threw for 244 yards on 22-27 passing, and Texas outgained UTEP 416 to 208 in total yards. Offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert said he isn’t taking any of it for granted.

“We’re extremely excited [and] we’re extremely motivated about what’s happened over the past two weeks,” Gilbert said. “But we know we got a lot of room for improvement. We’re by no means satisfied with what’s going on.”

The Longhorns got on the board first on a 29-yard touchdown haul from Buechele to redshirt sophomore Jerrod Heard — his first score since converting from quarterback to receiver this offseason.

But it wasn’t that easy for Texas throughout much of the first half. The Miners drew within three in the second quarter, 10-7, when redshirt junior running back Aaron Jones shot through the Longhorns’ defense on a 51-yard burst to the end zone. Jones entered the night as the nation’s leading rusher and compiled 123 yards on 18 carries against Texas.

Defensive coordinator Vance Bedford said last week he woke up at 3 a.m. worrying if his unit could stymie Jones. While Jones put together a productive performance, Bedford’s defense showed signs of improvement. Texas only gave up 135 rushing yards — 3.4 yards per attempt — to last week’s 206 against Notre Dame.

“What we did this week on defense, we came out and we just played,” head coach Charlie Strong said. “Defensively I thought we were able to shut them down.”

The Texas defense shut UTEP out in the second half and allowed the Miners to accumulate only 58 yards.

On the other side of the ball, Buechele continued to shine for the Longhorns. He launched a 46-yard strike to junior receiver Dorian Leonard and fired another touchdown to Heard, giving him four touchdown passes on the night.

“I’m definitely impressed with Shane,” Heard said. “As a young guy, just to keep his poise … it really showed everyone in the locker room [what] he stands for and who he is. We have total confidence in Shane when he’s back there.”

Texas is 2-0 for the first time since 2012. But the Longhorns face their first road test next week when they travel to California to play the Golden Bears, beginning nearly a month-long road trip.

Still, every win matters, especially after the team missed a bowl game at 5–7 last season. Gilbert said the early season momentum should help Texas going forward.

“I’ve been in [football] just long enough to realize winning is hard,” Gilbert said. “And those kids, to go out and get back-to-back wins, is huge. For those guys to taste success, … it’s been huge.”

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