Offense talks final drive against Kansas

Daniela Perez

Only 1:11 remained in the game after Kansas completed a two-point conversion that put the Jayhawks up 48-47. Longhorn fans watched the final 48-yard kickoff that put Texas on its own 25-yard line and wondered if junior quarterback Sam Ehlinger would be able to lead the Longhorns down the field and into field goal range.

Texas quickly made its way up the field with a completed pass to senior wide receiver Collin Johnson followed by a 4-yard run by sophomore running back Keaontay Ingram. Ehlinger said he did not doubt his team and knew what it would take to win.

“I am very calm, regardless of the situation because of the confidence that I have in our offense,” Ehlinger said at a player press availability on Tuesday. “Like I said after the game, I have complete confidence that we’re going to go down and execute because it’s what we do every week.”

The final minute showed a glimpse of the Longhorns’ offensive capabilities, which was missing in their game against Oklahoma. When the Kansas game turned into a fourth-quarter shootout, Texas’ wide receivers and special teams players showed up when they needed to most, pushing Texas toward victory.

“I mean, that’s the situation we practice for. We understand the consequences of every little minute detail of the worst situation, so I was very aware of the situation that (could) have been,” Ehlinger said. “Obviously there are things that can go wrong, but we were very prepared not to make those mistakes.”

Ehlinger relied heavily on Johnson during their last drive. The receiver has been dealing with a hamstring injury since the early stages of the season, but he returned in limited fashion against West Virginia and fully against Oklahoma. Ehlinger connected with Johnson four times during the 10-play drive.

Senior wide receiver Devin Duvernay also played a role in Texas’ successful drive. Duvernay caught a 6-yard pass from Ehlinger to put Texas on the Kansas 15-yard line. Duvernay said that having Johnson back allows for the receivers to share pressure.

“Collin is a great player. Definitely good to have him back,” Duvernay said. “And we look at it as how we can help each other. I take some off him, he takes some off for me, and just, you know, (we) go with it that way.”

With Texas then in field goal range, it was sophomore kicker Cameron Dicker’s moment. A 33-yard field goal stood between the Longhorns and victory. Ehlinger was anxious in that moment but knew he could rely on Dicker the Kicker.

“I kind of go through all the emotions when he’s about to jog out there,” Ehlinger said. “First I’m like, ‘Oh, I can’t watch this,’ and then I’m like, ‘Wait I have to watch this.’ And then I realize who’s about to kick it and I’m like ‘Okay, we’re good. (I) just reestablish my confidence in him, right before he’s about to begin.”

In the end, the Longhorns came out victorious and were able to reestablish some hope in their fans. Though the Kansas game was not their best performance, they still pulled out a win with only three seconds remaining on the clock, maintaining control of their Big 12 Championship pursuit.

“At the end of the year, this one’s going to count just the same as all the other ones do,” head coach Tom Herman said at a press conference on Monday. “They don’t count them any different, but we expect to play much, much better.”