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Inside the Numbers: The Texas secondary is a difference-maker

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The Longhorns found some answers in the secondary as they confused Austin Kendall all afternoon.

NCAA Football: Texas at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

The Texas Longhorns took a step forward onSaturday, proving that they can win on the road without their A-game after topping the West Virginia Mountaineers 42-31 in Morgantown. The Longhorns turned in their best defensive performance of their three Power 5 games this year, thanks in large part to their ability to force turnovers and turn those into points.

Texas Defense - Four Interceptions, 21 points off of turnovers:

There are still a few questions in the secondary, but the Longhorns at least proved that they have playmakers in the secondary as they prepare to take on the high-powered Oklahoma Sooners next week. The Longhorns picked off WVU quarterback Austin Kendall four times, their highest total since the 2014 matchup against the Kansas Jayhawks. Sophomore D’Shawn Jamison answered the call after the myriad of injuries in the Texas secondary, accounting for two of Texas’ four turnovers Saturday. This is the first multi-interception game from Texas since Caden Sterns had two against TCU a year ago.

Texas’ ability to turn opponents over multiple times has been a key performance indicator under Tom Herman, as the Longhorns are 14-2 when forcing multiple turnovers in a contest. The only two losses both came in 2017, against the Texas Tech Red Raiders and the USC Trojans. Texas turned the ball over four times in both of those contests and still managed to keep within one score.

Roschon Johnson - 21 carries, 121 yards (5.76 yards per carry)

One of the best stories of the year is the transition of Roschon Johnson from third-string quarterback to consistent contributor at running back. Against the West Virginia Mountaineers, Johnson looked more like a natural running back rather than a converted quarterback and turned in the best rushing performance of the season.

The first quarter looked grim for Johnson, finishing with three carries for just three yards. However, the offensive line got it going and Johnson found some running room, putting together an impressive close to the game. In the final three quarters of the game, Johnson carried the ball 18 times for 118 yards, averaging 6.55 yards per carry.

His performance helped Texas eclipse 200 yards rushing for the second-straight time, something that hasn’t happened since D’Onta Foreman’s Doak Walker Award-winning 2016 season. It was just the fifth 200-yard rushing performance under Tom Herman.

Sam Ehlinger - 18-33, 211 yards, 2 TD, INT; 9 car, 65 yards, 2 TD.

Sam Ehlinger is officially in a class of his own for the Texas Longhorns.

Through five games Ehlinger has passed for 1,448 yards and 17 touchdowns, with another 236 yards on the ground bringing him to 1,684 yards of total offense. All three totals rank as the best five-game start by a Texas quarterback in school history.

His 17 touchdowns move him to No. 4 overall in career passing touchdowns, tied with Longhorn Legend James Brown.

With his 211 yards against West Virginia, Ehlinger has now gone over 200 yards passing for the fifth consecutive time this season, the last time that happened was Shane Buechele in 2016.

Now comes the next big hurdle for the Longhorns, the annual Red River Rivalry matchup against the Oklahoma Sooners. Once again the question heading into the Cotton Bowl is can the Longhorns’ defense keep up with an Oklahoma offense averaging 643 yards and 53 points per game.