Golden: It should all start with de­fense with this UT team,

Austin American-Statesman Sunday - - SPORT SUNDAY - Cedric Golden Con­tact Cedric Golden at 512912-5944. Twit­ter: @ced­golden

Con­grat­u­la­tions, Longhorn Na­tion. Your four-year TCU night­mare has come to an end.

The Horns just beat the Horned Frogs and did it in con­vinc­ing fash­ion.

With a belly-rub­bing, ball-hawk­ing de­fense lead­ing the way. Texas 31, TCU 16. They tack­led in bunches. Todd Or­lando’s pupils ar­rived at the ball with bad in­ten­tions. And most im­por­tant, they took the ball away four times on Satur­day. Af­ter a por­ous first drive that saw the Horned Frogs march down the field for three points, Texas stiff­ened up the rest of the way. A few anx­ious mo­ments here and there, but over­all, the big­gest sig­na­ture de­fen­sive per­for­mance of the Tom Her­man era. Texas is 3-1 and surg­ing. Gary John­son is as tal­ented as any line­backer in the Big 12. Cor­ner­back Kris Boyd’s fear­less­ness is trick­ling down to his younger sec­ondary mates. And you can go ahead and pen­cil in Caden Sterns for the na­tional fresh­man All-Amer­ica team if his health holds up. He re­sem­bles a younger ver­sion of Earl Thomas with his in­nate gift of be­ing in the right place at the right time.

“Caden Sterns. Hell of a foot­ball player,” Her­man said. Co-sign. If Satur­day is any in­di­ca­tion that Texas is about to re­turn to those thrilling days of dou­ble-digit wins that it en­joyed un­der Mack Brown, then we will one day re­call the night that Mar­qez Bim­age stripped quar­ter­back Shawn Robin­son, Bran­don Jones’ fum­ble re­cov­ery, the sub­se­quent touch­down pass from Sam Eh­linger to a div­ing Collin John­son, Sterns’ pick on the next play from scrimmage, and Eh­linger’s clinch­ing touch­down run.

It might go down as the night Texas foot­ball an­nounced its un­of­fi­cial re­turn to na­tional re­spectabil­ity.

En­joy this one. It had been a minute since the Horns walked off the field against TCU a win­ner. If you’re look­ing for specifics, let’s go back to Oct. 26, 2013, when Brown, in his fi­nal sea­son, lifted Ty­rone Swoopes’ red­shirt with the game well in hand. We re­mem­ber that night even more for the three­hour weather de­lay at Amon Carter Sta­dium.

No one could have imag­ined that a four-year drought would fol­low that storm.

Her­man was hired to win these type of games and up un­til now, the only dub of note was last Novem­ber at No. 24 West Vir­ginia. This was huge be­cause the de­fense made some mis­takes yet never stopped believ­ing. Boyd was toasted a cou­ple of times but made a touch­down-sav­ing pass breakup in the end zone. Cor­ner­back Da­vante Davis fell for a pump fake in the red zone but the Horns held the op­po­si­tion to a field goal.

Even TCU coach Gary Pat­ter­son showed some un­char­ac­ter­is­tic give when he punted the ball away on fourth-and-4, down two scores with about 2:30 re­main­ing. Sure, he blew his three time­outs after­ward in an at­tempt to get the ball back, but it was as close to a con­ces­sion as you will see with­out lit­er­ally throw­ing in the towel.

As for Texas, its for­tunes will ul­ti­mately come down to de­fense. The of­fense has made some strides but it all starts on the other side of the ball.

CON­TRIB­UTED BY STEPHEN SPILL­MAN

TCU quar­ter­back Shawn Robin­son fum­bles as he is tack­led by Texas de­fen­sive back Caden Sterns (7), de­fen­sive back Da­vante Davis (18) and line­backer Gary John­son (33) in the sec­ond half Satur­day.

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