AUSTIN, TEXAS – SEPTEMBER 10: Kool-Aid McKinstry #1 of the Alabama Crimson Tide breaks up a pass intended for Ja’Tavion Sanders #0 of the Texas Longhorns in the end zone in the first quarter at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on September 10, 2022 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
In an unexpected dogfight Texas was defeated by #1 Alabama 20-19, but took the Tide to the limit without starting quarterback Quinn Ewers who was knocked out of the game at the end of the first quarter. Texas fans once again will be asking what if after losing a heartbreaker to Alabama, but the Longhorns showed they are ready to go toe-to-toe with the big boys of college football.
- The story of the day is the injury to Quinn Ewers. At the end of the first quarter Ewers injured his shoulder when he was hit by Alabama outside linebacker Dallas Turner after attempting a pass on the goaline. Turner was flagged on the play, and Texas did finish the drive with a touchdown, but the loss of Ewers drastically changed the complexion of the game. At the time of his injury Ewers had completed 9 of 12 passes for 134 yards. His passes were accurate, and he appeared poised to have a big day against the vaunted Alabama defense, putting several deep passes right on the money. Hudson Card came into the game after starter Ewers was injured and turned in a courageous performance. Card ‘s stat line might not turn heads, he completed 14 off 22 for 158 yards, but after being injured himself he showed grit and toughness and made several clutch throws to allow Texas to stay in the game and almost win it, leading a fourth quarter field goal drive to give Texas a 19-17 lead with 1:29 remaining.
- Sarkisian. As expected Steve Sarkisian designed a game plan to probe and exploit the weak points of the Tide defense. He has used shifts and motions to get running backs on linebackers and his best receivers like Xavier Worthy matched up on safeties time and time again. The attack also drew several flags against the Alabama secondary for pass interference. By utilizing pre-snap movement Sarkisian has manipulated the Alabama force allowing his running game to find gaps and getting Bijan Robinson matched up on Dallas Turner, a competition that set up a field goal attempt just before halftime.this game is a great showcase of Sarkisian’s ability to design successful plays against anyone in the country.
- Uncharacteristic Alabama penalties. Alabama was penalized eleven times in the first half. Some of the penalties are due to Texas’ approach and some are mental errors by Alabama, but either way these unforced errors are unusual for a Nick Saban coached team. These penalties included several by Alabama’s defensive leader, Will Anderson, who lined up offsides several times and committed a late hit that contributed to a Texas score. In all, Alabama was penalized 15 times the most in the Nick Saban era.
- Bryce Young is money. With the game on the line and his team trailing 16-10 Bryce Young lead a touchdown drive to take the lead, and then had to repeat the feat with his team trailing 19-17., Alabama’s quarterback completed 15 out of 19 passes in the fourth quarter for 136 yards and a touchdown. Young was harassed by the Texas defense all afternoon, but managed to make plays throwing and scrambling to move Alabama down the field to score on two crucial drives. Young’s moxy was exemplified in a play where he dodged an unblocked Texas defender, avoiding a game-ending sack, and scramble for a huge gain. Much of the day did not go well for Alabama, but the Heisman Trophy winner maintained his calm and made the plays necessary to win the game.
- Texas’ defense was outstanding. It has been a long time since Texas was this impressive on defense against a highly ranked opponent. Texas effectively eliminated the big play after an 81 yard touchdown run by Aledo native Jase McClellan. The Texas secondary repeatedly forced Young to look to his second and third option on passing plays allowing the front to apply pressure. Alabama was also limited to only 61 yards rushing outside Alabama’s long run in the first quarter. If Texas fans can count on defensive performances like the one they turned in against Bama, Texas will be a force in the Big 12.