AUSTIN, TX - NOVEMBER 25: Texas linebacker Jaylan Ford (41) reacts after making a tackle during the game against the Baylor Bears on November 25, 2022, at Darrell K Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, TX. (Photo by Adam Davis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

GROUND AND POUND: 5 Observations from Texas’ 38-27 win over Baylor

In a game that featured momentum swings like a heavyweight title fight, Texas defeated Baylor 38-27. The Longhorns rode another huge defensive effort and strong running game to make the key plays when the game was on the line. Linebacker Jaylan Ford had an outstanding game featuring an interception and numerous big plays. Running back Bijan Robinson finished the game with 180 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries.

The win keeps hope alive for a Texas berth in the Big 12 Championship game; if Kansas defeats Kansas State tomorrow, the Longhorns will advance to Arlington.

Encouraging Start: On Texas’ first possession Quinn Ewers was flagged for international grounding in the end zone resulting in a safety. On the ensuing Baylor possession, the Longhorn secondary busted a coverage resulting in a 47-yard touchdown pass. With the game barely started, Texas found themselves down 9-0.

How is this an encouraging start?

Because after that, Texas responded with a balanced offensive drive that resulted in a touchdown. Working in reverse of conventional wisdom, Steve Sarkisian used screen passes and play action to loosen the Baylor defense and allow his running game to get on track. Texas marched down the field and capped the drive with Ewers’ first rushing score of the year.

9-7 Baylor

Next, the Texas defense forced a three and out, leading to a shanked punt and allowing the Longhorns to March only 29 yards to score again. Bijan Robinson capped the drive from 2 yards out.

14-9 Texas.

This start is so encouraging because it showed grit and resilience from Texas. A must-win game started as poorly as it could possibly have started, and they responded.

This start shows that no matter what happens this weekend, this program has grown and changed for the better.

Big D: Texas’ defense remains the strongest part of the team.  

Today the defense gave up some big plays, but the only reason that the Longhorns remained in the contest was because of the play of their defense. As the offense struggled with penalties, turnovers, and pass protection, the defense answered the call repeatedly.

Following a fumble by Jordan Whittington and trailing 19-17, the defense held Baylor to a field-goal attempt that was missed. Later in the game, the defense repeated this feat following an Ewers fumble that was returned for a touchdown. Another Jaylan Ford interception set the offense up in position to put the game away.

While we have seen flashes of great defensive play throughout the season, over the last few weeks, the unit has grown into a prideful group that competes regardless of the play of the Longhorn offense.  

Here’s to you, Mr. Robinson: With the game in doubt and the Texas offense struggling with penalties, turnovers, and a quarterback struggling to function, Robinson took the game over. Everyone in the stadium and watching at home had to know that Robinson was getting the call on many of his carries, but twice he led the Texas offense down the field to retake the lead and then again to ice the game when it was evident that he was the only part of the offense that was a threat.

Robinson went over the 100-yard mark for the ninth time this season, with the vast majority of his yardage coming in the second half.  

In past years Texas’ best back has struggled against Baylor, but today with a championship berth on the line, Robinson answered the call and delivered in a big way.

Quarterback controversy?: Redshirt freshman quarterback Quinn Ewers was a five-star recruit, a touted transfer, and was hailed as the missing link that would put the Texas offense over the top into elite status. However, after a year at the helm, it is safe to say the jury is still out.  

While Ewers has made some jaw-dropping plays, his play has been erratic at best over the last several weeks. Starting with the second half at Oklahoma State, Ewers has struggled with accuracy, and his two turnovers today resulted in nine Baylor points, which are the only thing that kept the Bears in the game.

The most concerning thing about Ewers’ play for Steve Sarkisian and the rest of Longhorn nation has to be the fact that there has not seemed to be any development in Ewers’ performance as the week’s pass. The issues that raised concerns weeks ago were still present today.  

The lawn has been mowed: Texas can’t control its own destiny in its drive for a berth in the Big 12 Championship Game, but the focus for the week around Austin has been to control what they can control and not worry about the rest. With this resilient performance today, the Texas Longhorns can consider their lawn mowed; now they must wait on the outcome of the Kansas – Kansas State game tomorrow and hope the Jayhawks do some yard work of their own.

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