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Texas QB Shane Buechele admits mistake on 3rd-down fumble vs. WVU

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The freshman took a big hit and cost the team three points.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Texas Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

“I got popped,” said Texas Longhorns quarterback Shane Buechele.

Asked on Monday about the fourth-quarter hit from West Virginia Mountaineers safety Kyzir White that forced a fumble recovered by the defender, Buechele admitted it was the hardest hit he’s taken in college.

As usual, however, the tough freshman from Arlington shook it off, got back up, and nearly led Texas to a last-second win.

In the immediate aftermath of the costly fumble, which cost the ‘Horns a field goal in a game that ultimately ended in a four-point win by the Mountaineers, most of the questions centered about whose responsibility it was to pick up White on his blitz.

Buechele answered that question on Monday.

“You know, it was just a run-pass option,” he said. “I was going to throw it, but didn't have enough time. I should have just handed it off. It was a badly executed play on my part, and yeah, I got smacked a little bit.”

In tracking Buechele’s eyes, it appears that the play was the same seam/inside zone concept that Texas used against Baylor to produce a 51-yard gain by wide receiver Armanti Foreman, the intended target on the play.

However, the cornerback had good coverage even though the read defender was more committed to the run than the pass. Since the read defender gave Buechele a pass read, he pulled the football, but because his wide receiver didn’t create any separation, the Texas quarterback couldn’t get the football out on time, leading to the sack.

And since it was a run-pass option, tight end Caleb Bluiett had to cross the formation to execute his block, while running back D’Onta Foreman had to anticipate a run until his quarterback made a decision with the football.

As a result, it was perhaps up to Buechele to identify and account for the safety, who showed blitz before the snap with his alignment just off the shoulder of the defensive end.

Head coach Charlie Strong also talked about issues with the offensive line not kicking out on blitzes by the safety, but since this play was a run-pass option, that may explain why right guard Kent Perkins executed his typical combo block instead of picking up the blitzing White.

D’Onta Foreman would have been one-on-one with an unblocked defender in the hole before the first-down marker, but any outcome other than a fumble would have been preferable to Buechele’s fumble, which forced Texas to attempt a Hail Mary at the end of the game instead of a game-winning field goal.

The concern with Buechele moving forward is whether the hit impacted his health moving forward, as he suffered a rib injury against Cal and struggled throwing spirals much more than usual last Saturday, even before the hit.

After admitting that he was sore on Sunday, Buechele shook off any worries about the long-term impact of White’s crushing strike.

“Yeah, I'm feeling all right, just a little sore here and there, a couple bumps and bruises,” said Buechele. “But yeah, I'm feeling all right.”

Now Buechele will have to continue working on identifying blitzes and protecting the football — he has fumbled six times this season, though the recovery by West Virginia was actually the first this season on his miscues.