Longhorns claim third straight win on backs of defense, underclassmen

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Photo Credit: Lauren Ussery | Daily Texan Staff

STILLWATER, Okla. — Sitting at 5-5, Texas entered the weekend needing one more win to attain bowl eligibility. Saturday’s trip to Oklahoma State represented the team’s best opportunity for win number six, and the Longhorns took full advantage, using a dominating first-half performance to dispatch the Cowboys, 28-7. Here are some takeaways from the game:

Texas’ defense commands

Oklahoma State entered the game averaging more than 386 yards of total offense per contest, but it failed to muster half of that number Saturday night. The Cowboys gained 192 yards on 52 plays and were held to 69 yards in the first three quarters.

A 61-yard touchdown drive, followed by a 54-yard drive, helped pad the stats, but the Longhorn defense clearly won the night. Texas’ defense also recorded seven sacks, moving the team’s total to 37 through 11 games.

Swoopes bounces back

The last three starts were tough for sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes, as he completed less than 47 percent of his passes and was averaging less than 6 yards per attempt over that span.

On Saturday, Swoopes played his best game of the season, completing 72.7 percent of his passes for 305 yards and passing for more than 9 yards per attempt. He also threw two touchdowns and managed to complete several passes to move the chains on third down.

“I thought Tyrone played exceptional tonight,” said Shawn Watson, assistant head coach for offense and quarterbacks. “He did some really good things. He handled a lot of things at the line of scrimmage. He fixed protection, and a couple times he got some big throws, you know, made big throws throughout the whole evening.”

Underclassmen play key role in win

Following the game, head coach Charlie Strong tweeted, “Huge win for these seniors!”

While the game certainly meant a lot for the class — the seniors have gone bowling every season — it could play an even more crucial role in laying a foundation for the program. Now, Strong and the rest of the staff get an additional 15 practices to work with the players and further implement their system.

And on Saturday, some returning players showed glimpses of what could be the future of Texas football.

With under three minutes to play in the first half, Oklahoma State took possession of the ball following a missed field goal. The Longhorns rolled with a different lineup along the defensive line, replacing junior defensive tackle Malcom Brown with freshman defensive tackle Poona Ford and keeping senior defensive end Cedric Reed on the bench, as well.

The different defensive line, which consisted of four players who will possibly return in key roles for 2015, sacked the Cowboys on consecutive plays.

On offense, freshman wide receiver Armanti Foreman played the best game of his young career with two critical catches. Both of Foreman’s receptions came on third downs and were Swoopes’ two longest throws of the night.

The first went for 29 yards, and it led to a Texas field goal that gave the Longhorns a 22-0 lead. The second was a 45-yard grab in which Foreman outran the coverage and caught the perfectly placed ball for the score. It answered Oklahoma State’s score on the previous drive and essentially put the game out of reach.