Wow, just wow.
In what will go down as one of the greatest college football games, not only in 2016, but also in the history of Texas Longhorns football, Charlie Strong just earned a program-launching win that he has desperately needed over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
This morning, the Longhorns wake up with completely new expectations for this season than they had two days ago, and Strong is savoring every minute of it. If Texas carries this momentum into the rest of the season, a shot at the Big 12 title is not out of the question.
Anyway, here are a few random thoughts after last night’s historic win.
- Who could’ve predicted an offensive showcase like that? Offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert and offensive line coach/running game coordinator Matt Mattox earned every penny of their contracts last night, and the Longhorns have an offensive identity for the first time since they trotted out onto the field against the Crimson Tide in the National Championship. Simply put, those two men were at the top of their games last night.
- We’ve said it so many times over the past few seasons, but this time it feels real. Texas has finally found its quarterback. In his first game in a Texas uniform, Shane Buechele threw for 280 yards and two touchdowns with only one interception. His poise and command of the offense are remarkable for a freshman, and he showed the tools to make every throw on the football field last night. Even NFL minds are marveling at his tools already. What a start to his career.
- Staying with the quarterback position, Tyrone Swoopes deserves some recognition as well. Maybe the most unselfish player on this football team, Swoopes accepted his role in the 18-Wheeler package with grace and ended up being a game changer last night. The senior bulldozed his way to 53 yards and 3 touchdowns, including the game-winner. If anyone on this team deserved a moment like this, it’s Swoopes, who has been a favorite target for criticism over Strong’s first two seasons. In a modified role, however, he’s right at home excelling at what he does best.
- Oh Lord, John Burt. He showed why he could be end up being a NFL prospect after next season. Burt torched the Notre Dame secondary with his blazing speed, recording 6 receptions, 111 yards, and a touchdown. He’s going to be a difference maker for this offense.
- I see you Jerrod Heard. Way to make an impact.
- D’Onta Foreman showed us last night why he could end up being the best running back in the Big 12. His combination of strength and speed is just so impressive, and he could carry the workload for this team by himself. I’m very excited to see what he can do the rest of the season.
- Chris Warren had a very quiet night, but I expect that to change. I’ll need to go back and look at the tape, but I felt he had a couple solid runs mixed in. Last night was not indicative of the type of impact he’ll have this season, and I bet he’ll bounce back against UTEP.
- What a catch by Armanti Foreman. We heard how well Foreman played during workouts, and he proved it last night. That play came at a much-needed time, too, after the Irish had just driven down the field with ease.
- Interested why Collin Johnson didn’t see the field last night.
- The defensive line needs to get more pressure on the quarterback. The secondary will continue to get picked apart this season if the ‘Horns can’t get pressure with its front four. They did have a resurgence late in the game, but there needs to be more consistency. Although, Notre Dame will be the best offensive line Texas faces all year.
- Way to step up, Chris Nelson. The sophomore defensive tackle had 8 tackles and 1.5 TFL, really stepping up at a much-needed position. I hope we continue to see that production this season.
- Sophomore linebacker Malik Jefferson will make an All-American team this season. It just seems he always is around the football and makes the plays at the biggest moments. Enjoy him while you can Longhorn fans, he will be gone after his junior season.
- How about senior cornerback Sheroid Evans last night? He’s not an All Big-12 performer, but he’s going to be a very solid player for this team. What an awesome comeback story.
- I thought sophomore cornerback Davante Davis had a shaky game last night. On the other hand, I really liked what I saw from fellow sophomore cornerback Holton Hill. I’m interested to see how those two continue to progress.
- Sophomore safety DeShon Elliott’s hit was targeting according to the rules. Texas got away with one there.
- I thought senior safety Kevin Vaccaro played well when he was forced into the game. Hopefully, senior safety Dylan Haines’ head injury isn’t too serious.
- Although the defense looked had some bad moments, they stepped up when it mattered. People will look at the 47 points and have worries, but that Notre Dame offense is legit. Quarterback DeShon Kizer will be the best quarterback this team faces all year.
- Special teams definitely need improvement. I have no idea what the team was thinking when they rushed the extra point, either. However, Michael Dickson was outstanding with an outrageous 55-yard average on his six punts.
- Overall, Charlie Strong coached a solid game. In contrast to the past two seasons, it just seemed like the team was on the same page, motivated, and ready to win.
- Rejoice Longhorn fans. What an awesome game that will go down in the history books. Hook ‘em.