Growth in Spurts for Longhorns in Victory

Here are 25 thoughts/notes from Texas' 23-0 victory over Kansas.


Tyrone Swoopes has now thrown 99 passes as a starter at Texas and just one interception, which the coaching staff will tell you wasn’t even his fault.

That’s something he and the offense can hang its hat on as it moves forward.

Swoopes wasn’t overly impressive against Kansas but he did pick up his first win as a starter after going 19-of-34 for 218 yards and two touchdowns.

It’s clear that he’s earned Shawn Watson’s trust/approval as Watson continues to place more of the playbook on Swoopes’ broad shoulders.

You saw Texas run the option today and also saw Swoopes show off the cannon of a right arm he has, which we talk about a few notes down.

He managed the game well and didn’t make any glaring mistakes. Forward progress.

What I did notice that could be a bit of a concern moving forward is his trouble with throwing the ball on the run when he rolls out to the left. He just doesn’t square his body enough in those situations to make the accurate throw we’ve grown to expect from him. That needs to improve.

But his pocket awareness is improving. He seems comfortable there.


Charlie Strong stressed defense and special teams this week as Texas’ prepared for its first true road game, and his team listened.

All four of Texas’ scoring drives (three touchdowns and a field goal) were less than 30 yards (18, 26, 29 and 27). All were set up by either special teams or the Longhorns’ defense.


However, something that reared its ugly head again for the Longhorns was a poor effort out of the second half. It’s something that’s plagued this team all season and showed up again on Saturday.

Kansas obviously didn’t score any points on it’s opening drive of the third quarter but it did last 12 plays. Texas’ first offensive possession lasted all of five plays before it gave the ball back to KU, which proceeded to take the ball 13 plays before turning the ball over on downs in Texas’ red zone.

You might be able to survive that rush against KU but that won’t be the case if it happens against Art Briles or Bob Stoops.


John Harris is the real deal.

I know this Kansas secondary isn’t anything to write home about but Harris was again a consistent force for this Texas offense, and I don’t think it would have mattered who was guarding him.

Harris finished the game with six receptions (tied with Jaxon Shipley for a team-high) for a team-high 89 yards and a touchdown.

He now has 25 receptions for 336 yards and a touchdown in each game.

Harris entered the season with 9 receptions for 190 yards in his first three seasons at Texas.


The Longhorns showed a new wrinkle on offense on their opening drive by running the option to both sides of the field.

It worked for a short gain the first time when Swoopes pitched it to Malcolm Brown, but Texas got stuffed the following play on fourth down.

It’s a nice element to add to the offense but would/will be much more effective if/when this running game gets going.


Charlie Strong mentioned it post-game but Texas has got to get more out of its running game if it wants to have any chance at winning over the next two weeks.

The way the game started out I thought Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown were going to easily have their best games of the season. Their vision looked to be on point.

But the end result leaves a lot to be desired as Gray finished with 44 yards on 13 attempts while Brown rushed 12 times for 29 yards.

I know they are working a bit behind the eight-ball with this offensive line, but they’ve got to find a way to combine for more than 73 yards. They need to be getting that per quarter, not per four quarters.


J Gray got lucky that another one of his fumbles didn’t come back to bite him like it did against BYU a few weeks ago.

He coughed one up in the third quarter but recovered. The break went his way today. Can’t put the ball on the ground against Baylor or Oklahoma.


You could definitely say that Texas’ defense bent but did not break against the Jayhawks.

Kansas had 30 plays inside Texas’ red zone and came away empty handed.


The Longhorns mixed things around up front by coming out in a 3-4 look with Cedric Reed and Malcolm Brown lined up outside and Hassan Ridgeway at nose guard.

It’s hard to say it didn’t work considering the scoreboard and the fact that Kansas averaged a measly 3.4 yards per rush on 51 carries (173 yards total on the ground).

I do think it did limit the effectiveness of Malcom Brown just a bit though. He looked a bit winded at times.

Ridgeway played well in his first start and really seemed to come into his own at NT. He had five solo tackles (7 solo) with a half tackle-for-loss.


Chip Brown had been reporting for several days before kickoff that Caleb Bluiett would get the start ahead of Shiro Davis. He did and did noting to lose his starting roll.

His numbers, like Cedric Reed’s, aren’t a good indication of how well he played (1 solo tackle, 2 tackles total, 1 pass breakup and 1 quarterback hurry).

His QBH on Kansas’ fourth down attempt deep inside Texas territory late in the second half led to a rushed throw from Montrell Cozart, which was batted down by Duke Thomas. Charlie Strong recognized Bluiett for making that play after the game.


Vance Bedford hasn’t been entirely happy with the effort he’s gotten out of middle linebacker Steve Edmond, but he should pleased with what he saw today.

Edmond had a team-high seven tackles (10 total), one sack, one tackle-for-loss, 1 quarterback hurry, and a pass breakup.

He made a huge play early when he got one of his big paws on a Montrell Cozart pass, which deflected the ball into the end zone where Quandre Diggs picked it off. Kansas was in line to take the early lead.

Edmond will have a lot of eye balls on him next week after the off-season comments he made about his personal feelings toward Baylor, which weren’t so friendly.


Jordan Hicks looks anything like a player who has missed 19 games over the last two seasons due to injury. He’s playing at an All-Big 12 level right now, and maybe even higher.

Hicks again led Texas in total tackles with 11 (6 solo stops), which included one tackle-for-loss, 1 quarterback hurry and an interception.

He now has a team-high 51 tackles and is tied for the team lead with two interceptions (Quandre Diggs and Duke Thomas).


Duke Thomas showed no signs of a hangover from the UCLA game when he bit on a pump fake and was beat for the game-winning touchdown.

He finished the first half with more receptions, err interceptions (2), from Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart than Cozart threw to any Jayhawks receiver. Neither interception was especially incredible but it’s the end result that matters, right?

”Duke has a lot of confidence,” Strong said. “Sometimes he plays with too much. He does a great job of covering. He studies receivers during the week. He knows what’s going to happen to him.”

His first one came when Cozart was being chased, and eventually caught, by Longhorns redshirt freshman linebacker Naashon Hughes.

Hughes’ pressure forced a hurried throw from Cozart that went directly toward Thomas, who returned it 24 yards. Swoopes would later score on the drive on a 7-yard run.

He then ended the first half by hauling in an interception before really making the play of the game to that point on defense when he batted away a ball in the end zone on 4th down that put an end to an otherwise impressive 13-play drive by the Jayhawks.


One thing that Swoopes continues to do that just doesn’t make much sense is scramble out of bounds behind the line of scrimmage and take a loss instead of just flicking the ball out-of-bounds.

It was inconsequential today because the Longhorns weren’t in much of a dogfight but that’s something that he’s got to get in check. It could cost them vital yards in close games down the road.


How about the double reverse to true freshman Armanti Foreman on Texas’ second drive?

You all have been screaming for the talented playmaker the get the ball more. All he did was take it 29 yards to the Kansas 10. He did let the ball get away from his chest on the way down and the Jayhawks were able to strip it. But Foreman lucked out with the ball going out of bounds.

“He was carrying the ball like a loaf of bread,” Strong said. “He is a big play threat. He does it every day. If he can do it in practice against our guys he can do.”

Foreman didn’t see much more time but he did catch a crossing pattern from Swoopes in the fourth that went for seven yards.


The score remained 6-0 because Nick Rose hooked the extra point.

The junior from Dallas Highland Park was 8-for-8 on extra points going into the game. Replays didn’t show that there was anything wrong with the snap. He just whiffed.

Rose also had a down-and-up game kicking field goals. He had a 48-yard attempt blocked near the end of the first half. To his credit, though, the line crumbled in front of him, which didn’t give his kick any chance.

He did nail a 42-yarder late in the fourth that gave Texas a 16-0 lead.

Rose is now 3-of-6 on the season and 1-for-3 on kicks between 40-49 yards.


Will Russ was a bit too inconsistent against the Jayhawks.

This may be a bit of nitpicking on my part but this is, again, something that could come back to haunt the Longhorns in close games.

Russ’s yards per punt dropped eight yards (42.5) from the UCLA game when he really had the game of his career by kicking three punts 50-plus yards, including a long of 62.


Cedric Reed’s performance through three games came into question this week because he hasn’t put up very good numbers (16 tackles – five solo – a half sack, and one pass breakup).

Charlie Strong and several Longhorns defenders, including Quandre Diggs, came to his defense and said that stats weren’t telling the whole story for how effective Reed has been this season.

That was again the case on Saturday when he tallied just four tackles (three solo). But he was a big reason why the Jayhawks were kept off the scoreboard. He did have a sack of eight yards and another half tackle for loss.


I was a bit surprised to see so many true freshmen got playing time, especially those that had yet to burn their redshirts, after Strong talked about not wanting to burn RS for only 20 or 30 plays.

We saw Poona Ford get his turn on the defensive line. Dorian Leonard got some snaps and Roderick Bernard was seen on punt coverage. Heck, Ty Templin even saw some snaps and caught one pass for 7 yards.

Strong said he wanted to get these guys in there to give others some rest.

Their clock is ticking now. Strong said it himself that he didn’t want to look back when these guys were juniors and seniors and see that he wasted a year with them, so I can only imagine that those guys will continue to see their rolls increase the deeper Texas gets into its conference slate.


Texas did allow Tyrone Swoopes to take shots down the field more than any game this season. It didn’t always work out how the Longhorns envisioned, or at least how they drew it up, but the end result was successful on a few plays for different reasons.

The only deep conversion Swoopes had came when he eluded defenders in the box, broke free to his right, and heaved one up to Jaxon Shipley, who found a way to come down with the ball for a 48-yard conversion.

It was hard to tell if Shipley started the play going deep or if he just improvised and ended up there, but it worked.

Swoopes did go deep on a few other occasions with mixed results.

He overthrew a wide-open Marcus Johnson in the first half that would have certainly resulted in a touchdown had it been completed.

There was also the heave toward Lorenzo Joe that resulted in a pass interference.

Again, Swoopes didn’t always complete the deep pass but he did get positive results in a few ways.

Johnson definitely has the speed to get behind the defense so look for that to be something Texas tries many times down the road.


I really liked what I saw from Naashon Hughes.

Linebackers coach Brian Jean-Mary has said that if you drew up a hybrid linebacker/defensive end that Hughes would be the end result. He looked the part on Saturday.

We’ve talked about the pressure he put on Cozart that led to Thomas’ interception. He also had a quarterback pressure on Cozart in the fourth quarter, which helped Texas thwart a KU drive that was gaining steam near midfield (The Jayhawks would eventually turn the ball over on downs).


The Longhorns have left a lot to be desired on punt return this season, entering the game averaging 6.6 yards per return.

But that unit actually made a positive difference on Saturday when Jaxon Shipley, aided by a low hang-time punt and good blocking, returned a punt 41 yards to the Kansas 18.

Texas went on to score four plays later when Swoopes found M.J. McFarland all alone in the back of the end zone to give Texas a 6-0 lead. It was McFarland’s second straight game with a touchdown reception. He’s quickly turned into quite the receiving threat in the red zone.

Shipley had a 43-yard return called back because of two Texas penalties five minutes into the fourth.


This very well could have been Quandre Diggs’ best game. He was used in a variety of different ways and was effective in all of them, coming up with that key interception in the end zone on KU’s first drive and then sacking Cozart in the third quarter.


Ball protection is a premium at all times but especially when you are on the verge of scoring like Texas was early on before there was an apparent miscommunication between Swoopes and Jake Raulerson, which led to a fumle recovery by KU at the Jayhawks 2.

Again, you might be able to get away with that against KU but not against the rest of the Big 12.


Bruce Chambers’ bunch caught two passes, one of which went for a touchdown (McFarland). Progress.


It appears like you’ll be able to breathe a sigh of relief for Dalton Santos, Steve Edmond, Alex Norman and Jason Hall.

All were dinged up during the game but Strong said none were serious. Hall cramped up late.

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