AUSTIN, Texas - Maalik Murphy grabbed the attention of fans, media and other schools looking for a quarterback with his performance during the Texas spring game in April.
On Saturday, Murphy had his first opportunity to perform under circumstances other than a scrimmage and he responded.
Murphy threw for 170 yards and two touchdowns in his debut as starting quarterback for No. 7 Texas in a 35-6 win over BYU on Saturday.
Murphy, a redshirt freshman, replaced Quinn Ewers, who was sidelined with an injury to his throwing shoulder sustained in last week’s win at Houston. Murphy completed 16 of 25 passes.
AUSTIN, TEXAS - OCTOBER 28: Maalik Murphy #6 of the Texas Longhorns takes a snap in the second half against the Brigham Young Cougars at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on October 28, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Before facing BYU, Murphy threw eight passes this season, completing four for 47 yards. He didn’t have a touchdown pass or interception.
Murphy had a few shaky moments in the first half against BYU (5-3, 2-3 Big 12), with an interception and lost fumble. But before the half was finished, he connected with Adonai Mitchell on a 30-yard scoring pass, the Longhorns’ second TD of the game.
The Longhorns’ Xavier Worthy opened the scoring, returning a punt 74 yards for a TD.
Murphy said the interception was "a young mistake. I put the ball in harm’s way. But I was able to bounce back and the team bounced back with me."
Coach Steve Sarkisian said neither turnover was entirely Murphy’s fault; there were breakdowns elsewhere.
"The way that he responded from both of those two turnovers, I thought was great," Sarkisian said. "Malik got really good composure about him."
Sarkisian said schools "allegedly were trying to recruit him to transfer," after the spring game. Texas has two bigger recruits at quarterback — Ewers, a sophomore, and freshman Arch Manning.
AUSTIN, TEXAS - OCTOBER 28: Maalik Murphy #6 of the Texas Longhorns throws a pass in the fourth quarter against the Brigham Young Cougars at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on October 28, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Image
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Murphy said he didn’t talk to other schools.
"Just wanting to play here and play under coach Sark," he said. "That’s always been huge for me and that’s why I committed here in the first place."
Jonathon Brooks, one of the top rushers in the nation, gained 98 yards for Texas (7-1, 4-1) and added 40 more receiving.
Quarterback Kedon Slovis had a rough day for BYU, throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble. All three of the turnovers led to Texas touchdowns. Slovis finished 24 for 39 for 197 yards passing.
The second interception, by former walk-on safety Michael Taaffe, was returned 45 yards and set up a second Murphy-to-Mitchell touchdown pass, this time for 13 yards.
Slovis’ lost fumble set up a 34-yard TD run by Longhorns reserve running back Jaydon Blue in the fourth quarter.
"I just wish I could have given them more of a fight, in the scoreboard," BYU coach Kalani Sitake said. "I felt like Texas showed their identity at the end, taking over, relying on the run game. When you see them on the field, it just pops out, the talent, the depth ... You can tell this thing is starting to really build."
AUSTIN, TEXAS - OCTOBER 28: Justice Finkley #1 of the Texas Longhorns hits Kedon Slovis #10 of the Brigham Young Cougars forcing a fumble in the second half at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on October 28, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Tim
BYU: The Cougars managed to win three times this season while getting outgained by between 112 and 202 yards. One reason for that was an edge in turnover margin in each of those games, including 5-0 against Texas Tech last week. BYU ranked third nationally in turnover margin and fifth in turnovers gained. The Cougars lost on both fronts against Texas. They were out gained 354-292, while Texas had a 3-2 turnover margin.
Texas: The Longhorns’ special teams and defense made sure that Murphy had some cushion while landing on a big stage for the first time. Worthy returned that punt for the first score of the game in the opening quarter.
"What a great athlete," Sitake said. "It was one of things it looked like it was in slow motion. He was able to make guys miss and then it was just over and he was in the end zone."
The defense limited BYU to 113 yards, while Texas took a 21-3 halftime lead.
AREA OF CONCERN
Texas struggled, as it has this season, in the red zone, scoring on two of five trips. Twice the Longhorns were stopped inside the BYU 5-yard line.
"There’s a level of frustration," Sarkisian said.
Manning, from a family of football royalty, can appear in four games without losing a season of eligibility, according to NCAA rules. He has yet to play, though. Sarkisian said he might have sent Manning in the game had the Longhorns converted some of those missed red-zone opportunities.
"But we didn’t, so it was about making sure we have enough rhythm with Malik in there," Sarkisian said.
BYU: At West Virginia on Saturday.
Texas: Hosts Kansas State on Saturday.