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

Texas destroys BYU in return to DKR thanks to Murphy

Lorianne Willett
Redshirt sophomore Maalik Murphy launches the ball to his teammates against BYU on Oct. 28, 2023.

Words cannot express the pressure redshirt sophomore quarterback Maalik Murphy faced when he first stepped — and danced — onto the field for the first time as a starting quarterback.

Murphy entered Saturday’s matchup starting for the No. 7 football team in the country, replacing their 1.00 rated quarterback Quinn Ewers, who was injured during last week’s game against Houston. The media was against Murphy, calling for freshman Arch Manning to start, and the Longhorns were struggling, nearly losing that game in Houston and having lost to Oklahoma two weeks prior. With no room for error and one of the most intimidating fan bases and programs, Murphy pulled through.

“(I was) super loose, that’s just my personality though,” Murphy said. “Coaches told me don’t change, just be me, so that’s what I did.”

Saturday’s game ended with a commanding 35-6 victory for the Longhorns, but the tone setting from the Texas defense and special teams won the game as early as the first quarter.

Murphy and the Longhorns started well, getting the ball first and completing his first two passes, gaining 24 yards on the play. But after Texas was forced to punt, the nerves set in at Darrell K Royal Stadium. Thankfully for Murphy and the offense, the team won.

The defense started off hot with a tackle for loss and three and out, nearly intercepting the two passes. But what happened on fourth down was the real story.

Pinned inside its own 30, BYU made the decision to punt at junior Xavier Worthy. Big mistake. Untouched, Worthy beat every man on BYU, blazing past the final defender to a house call in front of ‘Ol Smokey. Without even passing midfield, Murphy had a seven-point cushion.

“We felt really good about the punt return unit, that we would get an opportunity,” Sarkisian said. “And sure enough, right off the bat, we get the big punt return from Xavier (Worthy) right up the middle for an explosive play that way.”

Even in his mistakes, Murphy was forgiven. An inexplicable pass went straight into the hands of BYU sophomore safety Crew Wakley, and if not for a block in the back penalty, the Cougars would’ve been inside the Texas 10 yard line. But all was forgiven when sophomore cornerback Terrance Brooks picked off an errant throw by senior quarterback Kedon Slovis, giving Texas the ball back, this time at the BYU 26-yard line.

When Brooks makes a play, the others must as well. Redshirt sophomore Jonathon Brooks continued his elite 2024 season on Saturday, racking up 98 yards on the ground and 40 in the air alongside a touchdown. In that ensuing drive, Brooks gained 19 of Texas’ 26 yards, including a bull-dozing truck on his four yard touchdown run. Brooks now sits at 1,524 scrimmage yards on the year, leading the power five conferences as of the end of the mid-day window.

“We take a lot of pride in the versatility of our run game,” Sarkisian said. “Jonathon Brooks had another really good day today and we’re gonna need that run game moving forward.”

When BYU got the ball back, the Texas kickoff unit already placed them at a disadvantage, forcing the returner down at the 14 yard line. Another three and out meant Texas had the ball inside BYU territory for the second straight drive, and twice in their first three. The Texas defense started the first four drives with 12 plays for 12 yards, forcing an interception, three punts and four tackles for loss all in the first quarter.

“I knew they were behind me,” Murphy said about his team. “I was glad they accepted me into this role to be able to help them and honestly, they helped me.”

Murphy fumbled on the ensuing Texas drive, but the defense hampered any momentum BYU had by holding them to a field goal inside the Texas 10. By now, Murphy had settled in and was ready to lead a 10 play, 75 yard drive capped off by a beautifully placed 30 yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Adonai Mitchell, the first of the quarterback’s young career and the first of two Mitchell would haul in.

“I thought he bounced back great,” Sarkisian said about Murphy. “The ways that he responded from both of those two turnovers, I thought were great.”

The Longhorns’ defense and special teams outscored BYU 7-6 and held the Cougars to 2.8 yards per carry during their first seven drives. When Sarkisian needed those two units to show up most, they delivered.

“We’ve been working all week, all year, just to get better,” sophomore edge rusher Barryn Sorrell said. “I feel like we’re getting better and today was a good representation of that.”

Murphy will likely make his second career start next Saturday when Texas hosts Kansas State, possibly the most important game Texas plays in DKR all year. The Wildcats have won their last three games, beating TCU and Houston by a combined score of 82-3. Murphy will have his hands full in a week’s time.

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About the Contributors
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.
Lorianne Willett, Photo Editor
Lorianne is a Journalism and Global Sustainability junior from San Antonio, Texas. Currently, she is the Photo Editor. In her free time, she enjoys reading and playing tennis.