Return Of Williams Powers Longhorn Run Game
Injuries have forced Texas to play with a host of different combinations along the offensive line this year.
On Saturday, it might not have mattered who the five linemen were, as long as one of them was Connor Williams. The Longhorns’ 6-foot-5, 315-pound junior All-American left tackle returned to the Texas lineup for the first time since having surgery to repair a torn meniscus following a loss at USC Sept. 16.
“He brings such an x-factor to the offensive line,” UT freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger said. “He’s so elite, and everybody knows that. He’s also got that nastiness.”
With Williams, a top NFL prospect, back in the fold, Texas rushed for 233 yards, its highest total since a rout of San Jose State Sept. 9.
Moving the ball on the ground was a priority for Texas as coach Tom Herman fashioned a simple offensive game plan in response to WVU’s unconventional 3-3-5 defense.
Daniel Young led the way with a career-high 85 yards, including a 36-yarder that set up a third-quarter touchdown. Ehlinger added 68, on just nine carries, Kyle Porter 53 and Toneil Carter 27.
Ehlinger, a freshman, came off the bench and directed the Longhorns on an 11-play, 91-yard touchdown drive in the first quarter and then a 10-play, 87-yard touchdown drive on his next series.
“We had so much push up front, and the holes were so wide, you can simplify your offense a lot,” Ehlinger said.
THE GOOD FOOT: Texas has struggled with its placekicking but UT punter Michael Dickson proved to be an effective weapon Saturday
Of his seven punts, four landed inside the 20-yard line, including one that was downed on the WVU 4.
The Mountaineers were able to move to their own 20 after that kick, but Texas forced a fumble that led to its final touchdown with 5:07 left to play.
WEARING THE BLACK HAT: Texas linebacker Breckyn Hager referred to WVU fans as “hillbillies” in an interview earlier in the week and talked about them drinking moonshine.
The junior was ejected from the game in the fourth quarter on a roughing the passer penalty that also included a targeting call on WVU quarterback Chris Chugunov.
The ejection means Hager also will miss the first half of Friday’s Texas Tech game. He left to a chorus of boos from the Morgantown crowd but cheers from the smattering of Texas fans in attendance as he flashed the “hook ’em horns” sign on his way to the locker room.
QUOTABLE: “When the quarterback runs the ball, bad things happen.” – WVU coach Dana Holgorsen on quarterback Will Grier’s bootleg run that ended in a broken finger and a fumble for a touchback, instead of a touchdown in the first quarter.