Texas seniors protect DKR in last stand against Texas Tech, 41-16

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

The Horns dominated both lines of scrimmage.

"We must protect this house."

The Under Armour credo that defined the company's first major advertising campaign was sincerely adopted by a departing Texas Longhorns senior class that suffered 10 home losses during their collective careers, but would not suffer another, dominating the Texas Tech Red Raiders, 41-16, in what may have been head coach Mack Brown's swan song at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.

And in a four-year stretch featuring the lowest lows of Brown's tenure in Austin, his team would not lose its first game since 1997 against the rivals from Lubbock. Few things have been sacred in the last several years -- not beating Iowa State, not beating Baylor, not beating Oklahoma State, but beating Texas Tech at home still merits that description.

A season-high 128 yards from running back Malcolm Brown and another 102 yards from running back Joe Bergeron helped Texas dominate on the ground against a Texas Tech defense that showed some different looks and was loaded against the run, yet could do nothing to stymie a Longhorns rushing attack it prepared for over a week to stop.

Bergeron left the game with an injury late, but not before he turned in one of his most effective performances since what was anticipated as a break-out performance against the Red Raiders in 2011 that ended with another injury, in that case to his hamstring. Bringing back the pin-and-pull play that the Horns used so effectively in 2012 helped spring Bergeron consistently on his preferred outside cuts and the junior back was impressive finishing plays with power and using his feet to bust his signature slide cuts on overmatched Tech defenders.

Overall, the Horns ran for 281 yards on 61 carries in a performance that was reminiscent of the 2011 ground-bound attack, including a 16-yard run from Case McCoy on 3rd and 7 in the red zone that resulted in McCoy's one-yard plunge to push the lead to 27-10 early in the third quarter, a score that effectively buried the visitors.

But as much as the run game helped control the clock and the scoreboard, it was a 47-yard touchdown pass from McCoy to fellow senior Mike Davis on a rare post route from McCoy that helped Texas take the lead late in the first quarter after allowing a 51-yard touchdown run by punter Ryan Erxleben on a broken play that went for an inexplicable score minutes into the game.

The home team never relinquished that lead.

Defensively, what coordinator Greg Robinson calls the "Spinner" package with end Jackson Jeffcoat standing as a middle linebacker and then looping into various offensive gaps helped the Longhorns record nine sacks while resurrecting a package that Robinson said he ran against Tech in 2004.

Not only was it a package that Robinson used during his first tenure in Austin, Jeffcoat looked like he did as a high school player at Plano West, where he wreaked similar havoc from a stand-up position on inside stunts and loops -- call it a throwback day all around in a wrinkle that confused the Red Raider offensive line all night.

From that three-man line, Jeffcoat was dominate for stretches and the defensive backs played an excellent game in press man coverage on the outside. The front and defensive backfield worked in tandem to reduce running lanes for Texas Tech starter Baker Mayfield, who had a 19-yard run but gained only three yards total on 16 carries after being taken down seven times in the backfield for sacks, and threw for only 5.4 yards per attempt on the day, a monumental victory for Robinson's defense.

Sparkplug wide receiver Jakeem Grant was held without a catch, the six catches for 83 yards from tight end Jace Amaro were mostly inconsequential after Texas cornerback Duke Thomas intercepted a pass that bounced off the hands of Amaro early in the game, and Eric Ward's 88 yards didn't make a difference, either.

In the end, the Horns emerged as contenders still for the Big 12 title with a victory against the Bears next week and recovered some of the lost momentum from the six-game conference winning streak -- had Texas dropped this game, the season finale would have been mostly meaningless.

After a major setback against the surging Oklahoma State Cowboys a week and a half ago, the Longhorns didn't splinter or fracture, a decision the team made after the Ole Miss game, instead showing the resilience that defined the six-game conference winning streak.

A flawed opponent? Sure, but besides special teams mistakes that lead to two of the three Red Raider scores, the Longhorns did exactly what was necessary, hardly a guarantee in their home stadium since Colt McCoy departed.

The legacy of the seniors that departed this Thanksgiving is mixed. The results of a dominant performance against a dangerous opponent were not.

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