Tom Herman called it the play of the game for the Texas Longhorns.
Facing a third-and-21 on the opening series of the second half, Texas wide receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey showed grit and determination in turning what should have been a 10-yard reception on a screen pass into a 19-yard reception by carrying multiple defenders with him.
That kept what became a TD drive alive and sent a clear message that the Longhorns weren’t going to back down. In the end, Texas prevailed in a 48-45 victory over Oklahoma to win the Red River Showdown on Saturday at Cotton Bowl Stadium.
“You throw a tunnel screen just to get some yardage for our punt and maybe pin them inside the 10-yard line and play defense,” Herman said. “But ‘LJ’ Humphrey is one of the toughest guys we have on our football team. After we scored that series, we said on the headset that that’s a ‘culture’ play.
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“If there’s one compliment a coach can get from people that understand football or put the pads on, it is that you guys play really hard. That’s the biggest compliment you can give a head coach. We may not always be the most talented or deepest, but with our effort and our purpose, we’re capable of doing lots of things. So thank you LJ for showing everybody what our culture is about. That was big.”
High praise from Herman for the kid who starred for Southlake Carroll as a running back. For Humphrey, he’s just become a running back who now runs routes.
He prides himself on YAC (yards after contact) and using his big body (6-foot-4, 222 pounds) to his advantage.
“I take great pride in (YAC), just being dominant and being physical to DBs,” Humphrey said. “I take great pride in that.”
Asked about the third-and-21 play, Humphrey said: “I got the ball and coach is always preaching in practice deep verticals, so I just got deep on verticals and my team was helping me.”
Added defensive back P.J. Locke: “It’s a culture. That’s literally what we do. We’re physical. We like smash-mouth football. That’s all we know – just hitting and going out there to play football the way it’s played. That play was the epitome of that.
“[Humphrey] went out there, he lowered his shoulder and then the O-linemen came and basically dragged him. That’s our culture.”
Humphrey ended up being one of the stars for Texas, turning in the best game of his college career. He led the Longhorns with nine catches for a career-high 133 yards.
Humphrey also showed off his passing abilities, too, going 2-for-2 for 8 yards. The highlight came in the first quarter when he lined up in the wildcat formation with Texas facing a first-and-goal from the OU 2. Humphrey found his inner Tim Tebow and completed a jump pass to Collin Johnson.
“We had that play and he hit me,” Johnson said. “That was a pretty fun moment.”
A pretty fun day all the way around for Humphrey and the Longhorns.