Everything lined up perfectly.
Following the second interception by Texas Longhorns sophomore cornerback D’Shawn Jamison against the West Virginia Mountaineers in Morgantown on Saturday, the Texas offense faced a short field, needing only 33 yards to build on an 11-point lead early in the fourth quarter.
Two running plays to freshman Roschon Johnson and a screen pass to freshman wide receiver Jake Smith put Texas in the perfect position for Moses, the trick play with a moniker referencing sophomore left tackle Sam Cosmi’s high school offensive line coach at Humble Atascocita.
On the 12-yard line, the Longhorns were on the left hash and within the yardage range the Texas coaches thought the play could gain. So head coach Tom Herman dialed it up.
Sam Cosmi with a beautiful big man TD!!! pic.twitter.com/oVUK6kvlUG— Chris Hummer (@chris_hummer) October 5, 2019
Smith went in motion across the formation to the field to open up room for the play as junior quarterback Sam Ehlinger faked a handoff, then sprinted to the right as sophomore left tackle Sam Cosmi dropped to the needed depth for the lateral.
As Ehlinger threw it back, senior center Zach Shackelford and senior left guard Parker Braun broke out into the open field looking for defenders to block.
Ehlinger had to get the pass right and Cosmi had to catch it — since linemen wearing numbers between 50 and 79 are not allowed to line up as eligible receivers or catch a forward pass, it had to be a lateral. So if Ehlinger missed on his throw or Cosmi couldn’t haul it in, it would be a live ball.
“He gave us a ton of confidence that wouldn’t be an issue,” Herman said after the game.
After Texas installed the play during game week for West Virginia and repped it several times in practice, Cosmi spent extra time working on catching passes with his fellow offensive linemen.
It paid off, as Cosmi hauled Ehlinger’s throw in with ease, accelerating down the sideline as Shackelford laid a block. Braun acquired a defender, too, and Cosmi was quick enough that the final West Virginia player with a chance to stop his mad dash to the end zone didn’t hit the Texas left tackle until he’d already crossed the plane of the goal line.
“Obviously, Sam’s a pretty athletic dude to be able to run that thing in,” Herman said.
Cosmi wasn’t concerned about the hit that he took, either, going back to the sidelines just wanting to know whether he looked fast. He did, since this wasn’t a fat guy touchdown — Cosmi is as lean as any offensive lineman in the country.
“I think it’s a big man touchdown,” Cosmi said on Tuesday.
In a post-game interview, Ehlinger dedicated the play to Cosmi always having his back as a blocker.
To some, burning a trick play to put away West Virginia with Oklahoma looming the next week didn’t make sense. To others, it was a potential message to the Sooners. On Monday, Herman explained his decision.
“Touchdowns are hard to score, especially in the red zone,” Herman said.
And that difficulty is why the Longhorns installed the play.
“I think it’s again more about I think what gets lost in the game of football is how difficult it is to score in the red zone when the field is that compressed. There are going to be two extra hats in the line of scrimmage in the run game, and when you are throwing, you only have to defend a few yards,” Herman continued.
“So it is extremely difficult, and any trick up your sleeve that you can find to gain an advantage on that, touchdowns are — as you guys know around here, we don’t like kicking field goals in the red zone — so we are going to pull out all the stops to score touchdowns down there.”
Mission accomplished, with a happy big man as an added bonus.