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September 7, 2008

Texas passes first road test, routs UTEP

EL PASO - Texas passed its first road test of the season, leaving the Sun Bowl with a 42-13 victory in front of the biggest crowd in UTEP history.

However, the Longhorns' victory didn't come without some harrowing moments.

UTEP coach Mike Price led his players down the steps in the north end zone of the Sun Bowl with a pick axe. Then his Miners seemed to use that pick axe against the 10th-ranked Longhorns' defense on first down.

On their first six possessions, the Miners averaged 6.4 yards on first down. UTEP used throws by quarterback Trevor Vittatoe, who finished with 267 yards passing, and runs by Terrell Jackson, who had 94 yards rushing and a 5.5 yard-per-carry average, to navigate the UT defense.

With Arkansas coming to Austin next week, defensive coordinator Will Muschamp said his unit has some hard work ahead of it.

"We were going to go in and give up some things in the running game to help our safeties out - play a little more 'Cover-2' and ... change the gaps in the running game," Muschamp said. "We wanted to make them be a little more patient. They tried to take a lot of shots early. But if you take away the first series and the last series of the first half, we played a good football game."

The Longhorns, who played 19 freshmen, have a lot to feel good about with their former Southwest Conference rival Razorbacks up next. Running back Foswhitt Whittaker may have emerged as the Longhorns new starter after posting 72 yards on 12 carries. He averaged 6 yards per carry. No other Longhorn averaged 4 yards per carry.

"I did what I could to help the team," Whittaker said. "In college, everyone's faster and stronger, so I'm still getting accustomed to it and trying to learn. But I don't think people are expecting much from Texas because we are running back by committee. Nobody's expecting too much from one person, so hopefully we can help take the load off of each other."

Receiver Quan Cosby finished with eight catches for 154 yards and a touchdown. Cosby also had one of the plays of the night, returning a failed 65-yard field goal attempt by UTEP out of the back of the end zone for 75 yards. The play set up a 35-yard scoring drive, led by three consecutive plays from the "Q Package" - a scheme that features quarterbacks Colt McCoy and John Chiles on the field together.

"There was never a doubt about me bringing the ball out of the end zone," Cosby said. "We want to make big plays on special teams, and we were able to do that. It led to points."

Brian Orakpo registered two sacks, and Roddrick Muckelroy may have turned in the performance of the entire game. He finished with 14 tackles and returned a fumble 26 yards for a touchdown.

"Rod doesn't look the part," Orakpo said. "He's got that pudgy little stomach. But when you put him on a football field, he just plays lights out. I love playing with that guy."

McCoy finished 20 of 29 passing for 282 yards and four touchdowns with one interception. He threw TD passes to Cosby, Dan Buckner, Blaine Irby and Jordan Shipley. Buckner, a freshman, scored on his first college reception.

"They were giving us a lot of man-to-man coverage, so we wanted to take advantage of that," McCoy said.

Chip Brown is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at cbrown@rivals.com.

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