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Inside the Numbers: Texas finds new success on the ground

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The Longhorns managed to get things going in the running game, setting up the rest of the offense.

Texas Tech v Texas Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Texas Longhorns’ season may not have turned out how they wanted it to, but with pride on the line in the final game they showed up big and took care of business against the Texas Tech Red Raiders on Friday. There were flashy numbers put up by the Texas passing attack, but the running game set the pace for the offense and opened things up through the air.

Texas rushing: 48 attempts, 262 yards (5.46 yards per attempt), 5 TDs

For several weeks the Longhorns have worked to establish the run and against Texas Tech their efforts finally worked. The 262 yards on the ground is the highest rushing total in the last two seasons and trails only the 404-yard game against San Jose State in 2017 for the highest total in the Tom Herman Era. This season, Texas has gone over 200 yards as a team five times this year, winning all five of those contests. The Longhorns managed that same feat just three times in the previous two seasons under Tom Herman. In addition to the totals, their five rushing touchdowns are the second-most in the Herman era, while their 5.46 yards per carrying marks the fifth time they reached that mark this season.

A big reason for the success on the ground was quarterback-turned-running back Roschon Johnson’s second 100-yard performance of the season. Johnson becomes one of just 13 freshmen in school history with multiple 100-yard rushing games and he now sits at 600 yards on the season, becoming one of just 12 players to reach that mark in their first year. His three rushing touchdowns earns him the honor of the highest single-game performance of the season and he takes the position as team leader in rushing touchdowns.

Devin Duvernay: 6 receptions, 199 yards, TD

At the start of the season, one of the biggest storylines was the coach’s decision to move Devin Duvernay to the slot position. In hindsight, it may have been the best coaching decision of the year because with one game left on the schedule Duvernay has already turned in one of the best receiving performances in school history.

With 103 receptions and 1,293 yards, Duvernay becomes just the second player in school history to eclipse both 100 receptions and 1,200 yards, second to the legendary 2009 season of Jordan Shipley. His eight receiving touchdowns this year puts him in the top 10 for a single season and his 15 career scores moves him into a tie for No. 8 in school history. His performance against the Red Raiders was his seventh 100-yard game of the year, tying him with Jordan Shipley and Wayne McGarity for the best season in school history. To top it all off, his 75-yard touchdown reception against the Red Raiders is the longest by a Texas player since 2016.

Sam Ehlinger: 19-27, 348 yards, 2 TDs, 10 carries, 83 yards, TD

One of the biggest frustrations of the last several offensive performances was what seemed like a regression from the junior quarterback. Against the Red Raiders, not only did the offense look closer to what it did at the beginning of the season, so did Sam Ehlinger. His performance Friday marked the third time this year Ehligner went over 400 total yards —461 against the LSU Tigers and 490 against the Kansas Jayhawks — but the volume of plays it took to get there was significantly decreased. His 27 attempts ties his lowest number for the year and when combined with his 10 carries marks his second-lowest number of touches this year.

Ehlinger also continues to show that he is one of the best quarterbacks in school history, taking sole control of the single-season record for consecutive 200-yard passing games and tying Colt McCoy for the most in a single-season. He becomes one of just three Longhorns with more than 4,000 yards of total offense in a season, joining McCoy and Vince Young in that exclusive group. His outing against Texas Tech gives him 13 games with one rushing and one passing touchdown, tying Young for No. 2 on the career list and putting him one behind McCoy.


So now the Longhorns sit and wait to find out not only what bowl game they will play in, but what of the rumored coaching changes will occur in the coming days. Either way, the Longhorns have an opportunity at an eight-win season and an opportunity to build more momentum heading into the offseason.