Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Wildcat trumps the Cougars: Savion Red becomes savior in win over Houston

Connor Steen

When the red zone offense was at its worst, Texas turned to a new face to get over their woes. After a loss against Oklahoma plagued by red zone failure, in stepped sophomore running back Savion Red, lined up in the wildcat, to convert the second touchdown of Texas’ 31-24 victory.

Red was a part of the coveted 2022 draft class, but he was far from the star of the fifth-rank class in the nation. Red wasn’t even ranked as a top 100 wide receiver prospect in the nation, a position he has moved away from since joining the Longhorns.

The sophomore plays the wildcat position for the Texas offense of 2023, a formation that is very unique in football. The wildcat is a trick play that has lost popularity over the years but features an athletic player taking the snap with the quarterback lined up out wide. The Longhorns have utilized Red in a unique way, allowing him to throw, run or hand the ball off as one of the youngest skill position players in the offense.

Red has been critical early in the season. He was featured in the position against Wyoming but picked up his most notable game time against Oklahoma. Red converted a first down through the air on fourth and one in the first quarter, giving Texas 25 yards and setting them up for a score. Later in the half, Red ran for seven yards on a 3rd and one to extend another drive. 

A week after a game in which Texas failed to convert on two of three red zone drives, including a pivotal stop on fourth down at the one-yard line, Red may be the new answer to what plagued Texas most in the past two seasons. Red’s first-quarter touchdown was not one that single-handedly won the game for the Longhorns, but through his multiple big plays, he made the difference in a one-score game.

After driving down to the one-yard line, Red checked in for a second down snap, taking the ball away from star sophomore quarterback Quinn Ewers. Red took the direct snap and patiently moved to the right, finding a spot through the line and capitalizing an efficient 10-play, 58-yard drive, a part of a 21-point first half. Red did what the offense failed to do in the game prior: convert on an important goal-line situation.

Later in the game, Red came up big again. Early into the third quarter, with the score tied at 21, Ewers was stuffed on a 3rd down sneak play. Head coach Steve Sarkisian, with full confidence, subbed in Red. Despite a mishandled snap, Red beat a tackler to the outside and converted a momentum-swinging first down. The offense found themselves in another fourth down later in the drive, and without Red, they failed to convert.

The very next drive, Red stepped up yet again. Texas faced yet another fourth down in Houston territory. At first, the field goal unit came out, but Sarkisian changed his mind after a stop in play, sending Red into formation. The sophomore took the snap and patiently ran left before breaking through the blocks and gaining five yards. Texas would add three points four plays later. 

The wildcat had a 100% success rate, converting on all three of his plays and racking up a final stat line of nine rushing yards on three carries and a touchdown. 

Though the stats don’t scream star-level play, Red was one of the few bright spots for Texas. Red converted both of his 4th down opportunities while the rest of the offense was one for two. 

Red has had an eventful start to his career at Texas. The wildcat is just one of three positions he’s played at the school, an extremely odd case for someone just two seasons in. Red played wide receiver in his freshman year, even racking up 20 receiving yards against Kansas State. In the offseason, however, Sarkisian felt he would be better suited as a running back. 

“Savion has really grown,” Sarkisian said earlier in the week. “There’s a lot of talented people in there, but to find a niche for him in some of the short-yardage running that he was able to do, I thought (that) was very effective.”

Texas barely scraped out a victory against the unranked Cougars, moving to 6–1 on the season with a trip back home next weekend to play BYU for their last game of October. 

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About the Contributor
Evan Vieth, Senior Sports Reporter
Evan is a junior journalism major and the sports editor for the Texan. He is originally from Washington DC and has covered UT sports for 4 semesters and counting. He has covered the Men's Tennis, Soccer, Baseball and Football teams and had the opportunity to write about the 2023 Longhorns in the Sugar Bowl.