No. 3 Texas downs North Texas 27-0
AUSTIN, Texas -- No. 3 Texas opened the 2002 campaign by posting its first season-opening shutout since 1978 (34-0 at Rice) with a 27-0 victory against North Texas. A crowd of 83,051 was on hand at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, which was the largest in a season opener and the 13th-largest in school history. The Longhorns defense limited the Mean Green to just 145 yards of total offense (90 rush/55 pass) and the UT offense scored on five of its first six possessions in registering a 27-0 halftime advantage.
The 145 total yards allowed was the Longhorns' fifth-best defensive effort since 1990. UT held the Mean Green to 90 rushing yards, but the secondary was even more impressive, limiting North Texas' aerial attack to just 55 yards on 6-of-20 passing.
Sophomore WLB Derrick Johnson led the way, as he posted a game-high 12 tackles and three TFLs. Junior MLB Reed Boyd added nine stops and senior SLB Lee Jackson registered eight assisted tackles. Senior All-American DE Cory Redding chipped in with four stops and a first-quarter fumble recovery that was forced by junior DT Marcus Tubbs, who added seven stops and a pair of TFLs. The Longhorns secondary broke up six passes, led by redshirt freshman SS Cedric Griffin's three.
Senior QB Chris Simms got the offense rolling early as he completed his first 10 passes, including a 15-yard touchdown strike to junior TE Brock Edwards in the second quarter. Although Simms finished one completion shy of tying his school record of 11 consecutive completions, the left-handed signal caller led the Longhorns to touchdowns on their first two possessions. Sophomore running back Cedric Benson capped the first drive with a 2-yard plunge and Simms added a 1-yard quarterback sneak on the next possession. Edwards then scored his fourth career touchdown two drives later to put the Horns up 21-0.
All three scoring drives saw the UT offense benefit from excellent field position courtesy of junior PR Nathan Vasher. The 2001 third-team All-American (The Sporting News) finished the game with four returns for 123 yards (30.8 avg.), including a 41-yarder in the second quarter. The Texarkana native also had returns of 40, 27 and 15 yards. By starting on their own 43-yard line or better on all three scoring drives, the Longhorns required only 9:02 of possession time on those drives to jump out to the 21-0 lead.
Sophomore place-kicker Dusty Mangum then added field goals of 38 and 44 yards in the second quarter to give the Horns a 27-0 halftime lead.
Simms completed 17-of-27 passes to seven different receivers for 187 yards and a touchdown. Junior wide receiver Roy Williams was his most popular target, as he reeled in five passes for 81 yards, including a third-and-17 diving grab for 18 yards that led to UT's first touchdown. Junior wideout B.J. Johnson added three receptions for 26 yards to tie Mike Adams' UT record for consecutive games with a catch (26).
Benson led the ground attack with 49 yards on 18 carries and scored a touchdown for the fifth consecutive game. He also caught four passes for 22 yards.