As a former high school quarterback, it makes sense for Roschon Johnson to have a package of plays with him taking a direct snap. Does Texas’ version of the trick play formation have a catchy name like WildRoJo or something along those lines?
“It’s just Wildcat,” Johnson admitted after Texas’ 58-0 win over the Rice Owls.
Six of those Longhorn points were a result of a 72-yard touchdown run by Johnson out of the formation.
After Rice missed a first-quarter field goal at the end of a nine-play, 56-yard drive that took 5:09 off the clock, Texas took over on its own 22. Two rushes from Bijan Robinson made it 3rd-and-2 from the Longhorn 28.
Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian sent a unique 23 personnel grouping onto the field, with three members of the Longhorn tight end room in the formation. Jared Wiley was attached as the end man on the line of scrimmage. Gunnar Helm was offset to his right on the weak side.
Cade Brewer was lined up in the slot, with quarterback Casey Thompson lined up to his outside on the wide side of the field.
Robinson was in the backfield with Johnson, who lined up behind center Jake Majors in the shotgun.
“We like to be multiple as an offense,” Sarkisian said postgame. “We like to present issues for the defense with a variety of looks. We like to play to the strengths of the players that we have.”
Brewer motioned toward the weak side and built up a running start before the ball was snapped. He was building momentum for a block on the edge defender.
Johnson took the snap, and faked to Robinson. Brewer blocked the Rice corner, while Wiley and Helm double-teamed the defensive end. An Owl linebacker attacked Robinson, but it was Johnson who had the ball in his hands.
“It was really just up front, everybody had a hat for a hat,” Johnson said. “Bijan led the way and I just ran after him.”
Once Johnson made Rice’s safety miss, he was off to the races.
Johnson broke through two tackles as he crossed midfield and sprinted up the Texas sideline. One defender tried to track down Johnson as he made his way inside the 20, but the former Port Neches-Groves quarterback could not be chased down and Texas took an early 14-0 lead.
“Just lining up at quarterback, it brings back a lot of memories,” Johnson said. “It is fun just to have that element of the offense to contribute to the team. It’s real fun.”
Johnson’s score was one of six Texas rushing touchdowns on the night and one of three Longhorn runs longer than 60 yards. Bijan Robinson had a second quarter score of 62 yards, and Keilan Robinson scored from 65 yards out in the third.
Jonathon Brooks joined the scoring action, adding the final points of the game with 1:08 left in the third quarter on a 17-yard rush.
Texas finished with 427 yards and six touchdowns on 41 carries, good for a whopping yards per carry average of 11.4.
“We said as running backs, we have to take the game over,” Johnson said. “That’s something that we didn’t do last week, and it was evident in the way that we played. We thought that had to be a key factor, that the running back unit has to go out and dominate that game.”
After failing to get the run game going against Arkansas, Johnson’s position group succeeded in taking the game over versus the Owls.
Ian Boyd contributed to this story