If you ask head coach Charlie Strong, his Texas Longhorns’ 45-37 victory over the Texas Tech Red Raiders Saturday afternoon played out just as he hoped it would.
With a 45-30 advantage in the fourth quarter, Texas spent the final 10:50 of the game seeking to once again extend the lead after a Da’Leon Ward touchdown run closed the gap to 45-37. The offensive play-calling made that task a nearly impossible one, as Texas elected to essentially go away from D’Onta Foreman on-back-to-back drives, resulted in a punt and a subsequent turnover on downs after the star running back watched the 18-Wheeler package try and fail on third and fourth down — in field goal range, too.
The game was then decided by a final series between Texas Tech’s offense and Texas’ defense — just what Strong hoped for all afternoon.
“I told them we have two downs to get the first down,” Strong said after the game. “And even though we didn’t get it, I said, hey, defense, it’s good — I kind of wanted the game to fall on the defense’s hand there at the end, because it’s just a confidence builder for them, to go out and make a stop.”
Considering what was at stake — a chance for Texas to move above .500 on the season and secure its first road victory of 2016 — the tremendously conservative offensive play-calling was questionable, to say the least. But Strong wanted to see a defensive stand and that’s exactly what he got, as Kris Boyd’s interception in the end zone gave Texas its second consecutive victory.
Kris Boyd's game-winning INT. pic.twitter.com/Q0jHFJzgKX— Brian Davis (@BDavisAAS) November 5, 2016
It’s hard to imagine that kind of stand to win the game for a defense that has seen its share of struggles this season won’t have a positive impact, as it should, especially for a secondary that’s regressed in many ways.
Entering the final stretch of the season, the secondary — and defense as a whole — can boast and build upon knowing they made a stand and won the game against the nation’s most potent passing attack.
Maybe next week, though, Strong can reward his defense by feeding Foreman on critical moments and allowing the defense to begin celebrating a victory from the sidelines.