Head coach Charlie Strong wasn’t happy with Texas’ first-half effort against Kansas. The Longhorns led by 10, but Strong believed the score didn’t reflect what he saw on the field.
“I told [the team] at halftime that they were playing harder than we were,” Strong said. “I said we can’t allow that to happen.”
Texas swiftly answered Strong’s call in the second half. Sophomore running back D’Onta Foreman ignited five straight scoring drives with a 93-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter. The Longhorns outscored the Jayhawks 35-6 in the second half to solidify the 59-20 victory.
“Everybody came out with a different mindset [in the second half,]” junior quarterback Tyrone Swoopes said. “We knew we could play a lot better than what we were [doing]. We just came out and did what we know how to do.”
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After losing in a shutout to Iowa State, the Longhorns saw an offensive resurgence against Kansas. Big plays came early and often as the Longhorns produced four touchdowns of 40 yards or more – including two from over 80 yards out. The team’s 59 points marked the largest total during Strong’s tenure.
Redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard also bounced back after a 36-yard performance last week. He made a statement on the team’s first offensive play while tossing an 84-yard touchdown to freshman wide receiver John Burt. In total, he completed 13 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown – his first 100-yard passing performance since September.
“I felt real confident and the receivers did too,” Heard said. “Before the game we found out that the [first play] was called, and we felt like, ‘let’s complete it and make a statement early.”
Swoopes helped the Longhorns pull away with touchdowns on three consecutive drives in the fourth quarter – including a 40-yard pass and a 44-yard run. He totaled five touchdowns on the day and now leads the team with 10 total touchdowns for the season.
The Longhorns’ defense also played a large role in the second-half rout. The unit held Kansas to just six points in the second half after allowing 14 in the first half. It also racked up six sacks and forced four turnovers on the day – including two interceptions by freshman safety DeShon Elliott.
“We knew that we were playing a little slow on defense,” senior linebacker Peter Jinkens said. “Everybody just got their mind right, and we just came out and did really good in the second half.”
The Longhorns will look to build on the win as they prepare for a road trip to West Virginia on Saturday. Texas is 0-3 on the road this season, and will need to play with the same confidence it showed in the second half against Kansas. If the Longhorns can channel the same knack for big plays going forward, it will go a long way towards solidifying their bowl hopes.
“We have to take the energy and excitement that we play with when we’re at home and take it on the road,” junior safety Dylan Haines said. “That’s easier said than done, but we have to find a way to do it, because we have to win on the road if we want to be successful here. That’s just something that we’ll be emphasizing this week.”