Game Preview Valero Alamo Bowl No. 20 Texas vs. No. 12 Washington

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Jeffrey McWhorter/AP/Shutterstock (13448896e) Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers (3) throws a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl, in Dallas Texas Oklahoma Football, Dallas, United States – 08 Oct 2022

Game Preview Valero Alamo Bowl No. 20 Texas vs. No. 12 Washington

The Matchup

No. 20 Texas (8-4) v. No. 12 Washington (10-2)

When: Dec. 29, 2022

GameTime: 8 p.m. CT


What’s at Stake: All indicators around the Texas football program are pointing up. After suffering through a 5-7 season in Steve Sarkisian’s first year, the Longhorns posted an 8-4 record in 2022, and early signing day saw the Horns land a second consecutive top-five class. A win in the Alamo Bowl would give Texas a win over a top-15 program in Washington and could propel the program to a championship season in 2023.

When the Longhorns have the ball: The focus for Texas fans will be on the play of quarterback Quinn Ewers. The signal-caller was a highly sought-after transfer from Ohio State, and many thought he would be the key to a much more dynamic and prolific offense that could take Texas to the next level. While Ewers has flashed signs of brilliance at times, he has also been inaccurate and inconsistent, especially in games that Texas lost. With the added practice time that bowl prep allows, Ewers has a chance to take a step forward and show that he is capable of growth.  

The bowl practices should allow Ewers to go back to basics, working on mechanics and timing that should help his accuracy. Ewers is only a redshirt freshman, so added time to practice and prep for the bowl game should be invaluable to a young player.

With both Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson declaring for the NFL draft and opting out of the Alamo Bowl, running back duties will be shared by Jonathon Brooks and Keilan Robinson. Expect Brooks, the former blue-chip recruit and redshirt freshman, to get the starting nod, with Keilan Robinson taking on Johnson’s role as the complementary back. The level of success that Brooks and Keilan Robinson have in replicating the production of their predecessors in this game will go a long way in determining the success that Texas has on offense.

If Ewers cannot lean on the running game to ease his burden the way he did for much of the season, Ewers and the offense could struggle in this one.

When Washington has the ball: Huskies’ quarterback Michael Penix leads the nation in passing yards and has thrown 29 touchdowns against only seven interceptions. The Texas defense must focus on weathering the aerial assault and getting pressure on Penix.  

A key to victory for the Horns will be getting pressure on Penix without committing extra defenders via the blitz. If the Texas front four can get home, defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski will have the freedom to mix coverages and keep his safeties deep. This should limit big plays in the passing game and force Washington to run or execute long drives.  

Washington has two receivers that have eclipsed the 1,000-yard receiving mark this year in Rome Odunze and Jalen McMillen. If the Longhorns are forced to blitz, these dangerous receivers will be single-covered, and big plays should ensue.

Key Players to Watch: One of the key players for Texas should be defensive end, Barryn Sorrell. Against TCU, Sorrell was absolutely unblockable, as he caused havoc in the Frog’s backfield throughout the game. If Sorrell can duplicate this performance against Washington, the highflying Huskies will be in trouble.

A player that will need to have a big game is wide receiver Xavier Worthy. With the Longhorns’ top two running backs departing for the NFL, it is vital for Worthy to get open despite facing frequent double coverage and make life easier for a talented but young and inconsistent Quinn Ewers.

The Bottom Line: Texas has turned a corner defensively; they are fast, athletic, and physical. If the Longhorns can play to the standard they set in the closing weeks of the regular season, they should give Washington significant problems. If Ewers and the Texas offense can deliver a performance to match the defense, it could be a long night for the Huskies.

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