Texas’ problems may not be solved, but its 27-16 win over Baylor on Saturday helped cool over some of the program’s glaring issues — at least for the next week.
Saturday’s game more or less resembled the dominating wins Texas fans expected coming into the season, regardless of outside noise or how flawed the performance was at times.
“I’m always relieved to get a win,” head coach Tom Herman said. “Winning is intoxicating, but it is also a very, very big relief.”
Texas bounced back from a slow and frustrating first quarter with 27 unanswered points on three touchdowns from senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger, including a dime to redshirt sophomore receiver Joshua Moore from three yards out to put the Horns up 10 before halftime.
Moore, who struggled to win several one-on-one matchups in the Longhorns’ last matchup against Oklahoma two weeks ago, said he’s been confident in his ability since high school. He said he’s thankful to have a quarterback as talented as Ehlinger.
“I appreciate him for trusting me,” Moore said. “This is just countless hours of routes on air (drills) with him, getting in the film room with him. It makes my job a lot easier whenever I have a quarterback like him.”
The Longhorns significantly cut down on costly mistakes that propelled them to a two-game losing streak. Texas’ 92 and 86 penalty yards against TCU and Oklahoma, respectively, were cut down to 50 Saturday afternoon. The team also turned the ball over once, after committing two turnovers against the Horned Frogs and three against the Sooners.
Ehlinger was just happy to get a win after dropping back-to-back games against a conference opponent for the fourth-straight year. He said the first half of the season has shown what the Longhorns are capable of, both positive and negative.
“Over the past few games we’ve shown we’re capable of pretty much anything, whether that be good or bad,” Ehlinger said. “We know that, and we know that’s in our control. When we stand out of our own way, we’re pretty darn good.”
Defensively, the Longhorns matched every expectation the players and coaches held after the defense allowed at least 30 points in three straight games. Herman said he couldn’t understate the improvement and performance he saw from his defense, which allowed three points through the first three quarters.
“To finally have two really good weeks of practice then translate to 64 yards rushing and 316 yards of total offense, that provides a lot of confidence,” Herman said. “We’re by no means a finished product on any side of the ball, but to have that kind of performance for three-and-a-half quarters was very uplifting for that side of the ball.”
Now, as the Longhorns turn their attention to next week’s matchup against one of the Big 12’s top teams, Oklahoma State, senior defensive lineman Ta’Quon Graham is excited and confident about the team’s chances to still win the Big 12. The team currently sits tied for fifth in the conference standings.
“We never felt like we were out of it,” Graham said. “We definitely were disappointed about those two losses, but at the same time we always know that we have a chance to win the conference if we keep taking it week by week. We focused on Baylor, we’re finished with Baylor, and now it’s time to focus on (Oklahoma) State.”