Posted on September 5, 2016, by Travis Pulver
Texas head coach Charlie Strong knew there was a good chance he would be making history when he sent the offense on the field for the first time, but that didn’t matter. What did was how well the team played and if they left the field at the end of the night with a win.
Strong ended up making history by starting true freshman Shane Buechele but needed both of his quarterbacks to pull out a 50-47 double overtime win over No. 10 Notre Dame.
With Jerrod Heard playing wide receiver now, the job would either go to Buechele or senior Tyrone Swoopes. The team already knows what Swopes brings to the table—great runner, terrible passer. So it was go with what you know (Swoopes) or go with the kid that has looked great in practice (Buechele). Buechele didn’t disappoint in his first college start. He finished his first drive off with a 19-yard touchdown pass that tied the score up at 7-7. By the end of the night, he would account for 313 yards from scrimmage (280 passing; 33 rushing), three touchdowns (two passing; one rushing), and an interception.
“This is a great start for us,” Strong said. “Our fans really needed that. We’ve been down for so long. … It was a night for us to just make it right.”
As well as Buechele and the rest of the team played, the win was far from easy. Texas took a 21-14 lead into halftime and stretched the lead out to 31-14 early in the second half. But then Notre Dame’s offense woke up.
Brian Kelly quit switching his quarterbacks around at that point in the game and put the ball in DeShone Kizer’s hands. The junior quarterback repaid his head coach’s faith with touchdowns on three of the next four Texas drives which gave Texas a 35-31 lead with 11 minutes left in the game.
Texas did all they could to help by throwing an interception on one drive and going three and out on the other two. But the fun and excitement was far from over.
With a little over five minutes left, the Notre Dame defense picked a terrible time to forget how to tackle. After starting with the ball on the 32, the Longhorns needed less than two minutes to run the ball down Notre Dame’s throat for what should have been the go-ahead touchdown.
But Notre Dame blocked the extra point, and Shaun Crawford returned the ball for a rare defensive PAT worth two points—which tied the score up at 37-37.
While Buechele got the Longhorns there, it was Swoopes that closed the game out and secured the win. Notre Dame simply couldn’t tackle the 249-pound quarterback. He scored Texas’ first overtime touchdown with a nice three-yard run. After the defense had held Notre Dame to a field goal in the second overtime period, he won the game with a six-yard power run for the decisive touchdown (ESPN).
Social media and several news sites were quick to proclaim “Texas is back!” but Charlie Strong is keeping the game in perspective:
“We needed tonight to get this program back in the spotlight,” Strong said (AP). “I know one game does not make a season. We have many more to go. But it’s a great start.”
The last time a true freshman started at quarterback or the Texas Longhorns was 1944—a gentleman by the name of Bobby Layne. If history is any indicator, the Longhorns will at least be bowl eligible this season (Layne led the team to a 5-4 record)—but the next three years will be pretty great.
Layne’s next three teams went 10-1, 8-2, and 10-1 and finished ranked No. 10, 15, and 5.
Next up for Texas will be an easy one against UTEP, but they will have their hands full when they travel to California to play Cal the following week.