Wednesday 20th September, 2017
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Texas reboots ground game heading into USC game

Sports Xchange - Tuesday 12th September, 2017

AUSTIN, Texas -- There's nothing like a blowout win over an overmatched opponent to rekindle hope, but Texas' 56-0 home victory over San Jose State on Saturday felt like more than just the administering of a token beat-down.

Instead, it should act as an awakening of sorts -- just a week later than the Longhorns, coach Tom Herman and the fans expected.

This win also acted as a rebooting of the impact of Texas running back Chris Warren III, who scored twice and racked up 166 of Texas' 406 yards on the ground as the Longhorns shrugged off a ragged start and swamped an out-of-its-league San Jose State team.

The Longhorns at least take some momentum with them to the West Coast on Saturday when they battle No. 4 Southern California in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

How Texas plays in that game could truly determine the direction of this team, much more than a shutout win over an outmatched San Jose State team would.

"Playing a team like USC or really anybody left on our schedule, we are not going to be able to mask some of the fundamental and technique errors we made with just effort and talent like we were on Saturday," Herman said.

"We're going to need to play not just really hard and not just with the talent that we have, but we're going to have to play very, very fundamentally sound, play after play after play, to stay competitive in this ballgame."

Last week's victory was Texas' first of Herman era, as the Longhorns' overall depth, size and talent overwhelmed the Spartans. Texas outgained San Jose State 623-171 and had six rushing touchdowns.

"That was what it's supposed to look like when you're playing well on both sides of the ball," Herman said. "I'm really, really proud of our guys for tuning out all the noise and tuning out all the distractions that they could have allowed to creep in after last week's showing.

"When you watch the film (from the San Jose State game) we are nowhere near a finished product," Herman added. "We won that game because we played so hard and we've got really good players. But I think that's a start. When you have got good players that play hard, you've got a chance."

The Longhorns (1-1) struggled early but used their rushing attack -- and namely sophomore Warren and third-string quarterback Jerrod Heard -- to take control of the game with three touchdowns in the first half.

Heard, who has worked mostly as a wide receiver this season, ran nine yards for Texas' first touchdown at the 2:56 mark of the first quarter as the Longhorns forged a 7-0 lead.

Warren then ran 41 yards for a score 2:12 into the second quarter to push Texas' advantage to 14-0. Heard added to the lead with a 3-yard TD run with 16 seconds to play before halftime as the Longhorns built a 21-point cushion at intermission.

True freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger (15 of 27 passing for 222 yards a one TD) got the start for the Longhorns in favor of sophomore Shane Buechele, who bruised his throwing shoulder in Texas' 51-41 opening loss to Maryland and was ruled out of the game about 30 minutes before kickoff.

Ehlinger got the first touchdown pass of his Texas career early in the fourth quarter on a 1-yard shovel pass to Armanti Foreman.

Texas' defense also got in on the fun, scoring on a 45-yard Holton Hill interception return with 48 seconds remaining in the third quarter. It was Hill's third TD this season on a return (he had touchdowns after an interception and a blocked field goal in the opener against Maryland). Texas had no defensive or special teams score in the 2016 campaign.

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