Texas can win without some of its playmakers, not without all of them
Texas beat Texas Tech handily without its leading rusher and receiver but could not beat Missouri without Malcolm Brown, Joe Bergeron and Jaxon Shipley seeing the field. Linebacker Keenan Robinson hurt his thumb in the first quarter and did not return, but the loss of Fozzy Whittaker may have hurt the most. With Whittaker nursing a knee injury suffered on the first drive of the game, the Longhorns were down to fourth-string running back Jeremy Hills and could muster only 76 rushing yards after averaging 440 in the last two games.
“[Fozzy Whittaker’s] our leader,” said head coach Mack Brown. “Injuries can’t be an excuse, even though they piled up more than I think I’ve ever seen at one position.”
Quarterback situation still unstable
With David Ash taking over as the full-time starter three contests ago, the Texas quarterback position began to stabilize. But after six straight scoreless possessions, Case McCoy took over in the third quarter, getting his first meaningful playing time in more than a month.
Ash went 13-of-29 for 158 yards, completing two long third-down passes on the Longhorns’ opening drive, the only one that produced points. The freshman was also sacked twice on third down, threw an interception near the end of the first half, and missed Marquise Goodwin on what would have been a sure touchdown pass in the first half. Meanwhile, Texas went three and out on McCoy’s first two drives with Justin Tucker missing a 53-yard field goal at the end of McCoy’s third.
“The quarterbacks showed leadership as they always do,” said junior wide receiver Marquise Goodwin. “We just couldn’t get the ball moving like we wanted to. We have to go back to the drawing board and get it going for Kansas State.”
Longhorns’ defense one of the best in the country
Missouri came into this game averaging almost 35 points per game but was held to a season-low 17 points Saturday. Even without Robinson and a productive offense for the majority of the day, the Longhorns defense kept them in the game. Texas held its ground when the Tigers blocked a punt and recovered the ball at the Longhorns’ 1-yard line, holding Missouri to a 19-yard field goal. Texas blocked a punt of its own, resulting in a safety, while holding quarterback James Franklin and running back Henry Josey, who suffered a season-ending injury in the third quarter, to a combined 238 yards, close to 200 below their combined season average.
“The defense played well enough to win,” Brown said. “They kept fighting and competing throughout the game – blocked a punt and let us stay in the ballgame. But offensively we could never get the game started.”