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More thoughts from the much-needed Texas win over Baylor

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Credit the players for hanging in there the entire game.

Baylor v Texas Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

This was easily one of the whackiest Texas Longhorns football games I’ve ever seen in person. But regardless of how it played out, this was a much-needed win for Texas and head coach Charlie Strong.

— Before we get into this, I first want to say I hope Baylor freshman cornerback Grayland Arnold continues to recover and is OK. It was a tense 10-15 minutes in the stadium while he was down with trainers around him.

It sounds like he’ll be just fine, but as someone who’s been in the stands and seen a player get paralyzed during a game, it’s always a terrible feeling when you see the training staff call for the stretcher and cart.

— As for Texas, the players absolutely deserve a ton of credit for hanging tough in this game and fighting back to get the win. There were multiple moments in the game, especially the second half, when it felt like Baylor could put the game just out of reach.

But the players hung in there, it paid off, and Texas ultimately won a hard-fought game.

— We’ve said it all season and we’ll keep saying it, the Foreman brothers were again spectacular.

D’Onta absolutely dominated the Baylor defense, and Armanti chimed in with a huge day himself thanks to some big time receptions and the Longhorns’ first touchdown of the game, though he did fumble on what would have been a big play over the middle. Yeah, passes over the middle actually happened this game. And guess what, they worked!

-- We saw you doing the Heisman pose after one of your touchdowns, D’Onta. Well attempting to do the pose... Ricky, think you can help D’Onta out there, man?

Finally more of the national media is learning how special of a running back he is.

Watching him rip off tough runs brings back memories of Ricky Williams and Cedric Benson. I still can’t believe Foreman averaged less than 10 carries a game last season while averaging over seven yards a carry. We should all be glad that isn’t the case this season...

— Not only did Sterlin Gilbert call pass plays over the middle that worked, he also called a pass play that involved a tight end scoring a touchdown all in the same game.

And to be fair, he absolutely has improved this offense. The ‘Horns are averaging 36 points per game at the moment, which is a whole 10 points higher than last season’s totals.

But for as successful as this offense has been compared to last season, I still question some decisions that are made offensively. One from this game was putting Swoopes at running back. He’s not a running back, nor does he run like a running back.

And then on the failed two-point conversion, Gilbert went with the struggling 18-Wheeler package instead of giving the ball to the guy who was running all over the Baylor defense — D’Onta Foreman.

I get that Swoopes works hard, but as Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.” The 18-Wheeler package is past its expiration date and now it just stinks like sour milk.

— On the note of the 18-Wheeler package, why split out D’Onta Foreman at receiver? Is that an attempt to convince everyone even more that Texas won’t throw out of that package? If so, it’s working on me.

— I also didn’t get the play call that apparently set up Texas’ field goal to win the game. If you want to get the ball on the right hash, why run so far back and lose yards? Why not call a running play to the right and also attempt to pick up the first down? Odd. Fortunately for Texas, Domingue drilled the field goal.

— Credit the offensive line for opening up the holes and doing their part to help D’Onta Foreman have the day that he did on the ground. It looked like Jake McMillion filled in rather nicely for Patrick Vahe as the starter at left guard.

It’ll be interesting to see if Vahe gets pushed back over to the right side at right guard.

— He’s had some tough moments to deal with, but this was a win and a final kick Domingue can hang his hat on.

— The defensive game ball has to go to PJ Locke. He was in on both the turnovers the Texas defense won, added a couple of good plays in coverage, and played well overall.

— I may be holding my breathe some while hoping the improved play sticks, but it looked like Kris Boyd had another solid game.

It’s interesting that the guy who was left out of the preseason hype around the conference while his teammates Holton Hill and Davante Davis were highlighted is now the one at corner playing the best of the three and actually starting.

— Maybe the refs would have seen the push off Baylor wide receiver Ishmael Zamora had on Hill had Zamora used the opposite arm that had 17 sweat bands on it instead.

— I doubt neither Baylor nor Texas’ defensive lines will grade out all that well from this game against the run.

This Texas defensive line is still at its best when its rushing the passer.

— Before the game, had you told me that Baylor would rush for 398 yards and two touchdowns and add on 226 yards and two more touchdowns through the air, I’d have cringed and thought Texas would have lost another one.

Again, had Texas lost, can you imagine how many more questions would be asked of Strong, his defensive game-plan, and some decisions his staff made on both sides of the ball in this one?

Don’t get me wrong, Texas got the win and deserves a ton of credit for hanging in there and fighting their way back. But this Texas team still had its odd moments.

— Seth Russell not only had one but two posterizing moments at the expense of Dylan Haines. Russell juked out Haines on his first touchdown run and then pulled a Sam McGuffee (because he was the hurdle OG for me, sorry Lamar Jackson) and hurdled over Haines on another long run.

— Looking ahead on the schedule, there may not be any quarterbacks left that can make plays with their legs as well as Russell can, but both Patrick Mahomes and Kenny Hill shouldn’t be overlooked as guys that could pick up some first downs with their legs.

— It didn’t look like Baylor tested this Texas secondary deep nearly as much as I would have expected. Then again, given that the Bears offense generated over 600 yards, I guess Kendal Briles was comfortable with what was working, which ended up being running the ball 68 times.

— Both teams lost a fumble and an interception a piece, but Baylor ended with a total of 10 penalties while Texas committed just four.

— In my mind, the two biggest defensive moments for Texas both happened in the Longhorns’ own red zone. The fumble caused by Boyette and recovered by Locke, and the red zone stop that forced a field goal in the fourth quarter after Russell broke off another big run to get Baylor down to the Texas 5-yard .

Both of those situations occurred while Texas was down 31-26 in the second half.

— The Texas defense notched a total of six sacks, with Malik Jefferson leading the way with two. He also led the team in tackles with 10 total, including eight solo. He did this all in a game he didn’t start.

— I wanted that touchdown to stand for Malik Jefferson for so many reasons. Not only was it a great play by him all around, but on a season lacking the amount of highlight footage we all would have expected to be on his reel by now, that’s the type of play he could have really used.

Even though it didn’t officially stand, hopefully for Texas’ sake it gets him going more these last four games than how he’s played through the first eight.

— I hope everyone is appreciating the type of season Shane Buechele is continuing to have. I know he did have that one interception. But he continues to do his part on offense.

Not only does he throw good passes, he’s impressing with the mental grasp he already has of this offense and of football and the game speed in general at this level.

— At the end of the day, this was a much-needed win for Charlie Strong and these Texas Longhorns. The team was resilient and fought to the very end.


Now the hope for Strong and the ‘Horns is that this carries over to road games. The 4-4 Longhorns travel to Lubbock next weekend to take on the 4-4 Texas Tech Red Raiders, who are coming off an overtime win against TCU themselves.