Road Warriors: 5 Observations from No. 24 Texas vs. No. 13 Kansas State

AUSTIN, TX – SEPTEMBER 03: Texas Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian looks on prior to the game against the University of Louisiana Monroe Warhawks on September 03, 2022, at Darrell K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, TX. (Photo by Adam Davis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Road Warriors: 5 Observations from No. 24 Texas vs. No. 13 Kansas State

On the strength of a fast start and timely defense, No. 24 Texas outlasted No. 13 Kansas State on the road 34-27. The win should give a huge lift to a program that has been seeking a defining road victory for more than a year.

Running back battle. Each team has a potential first-round draft pick toting the rock and both backs came to play this evening. Bijan Robinson opened the scoring with a 36-yard touchdown scamper that featured his balance, acceleration, and vision as he picked his way through the Wildcat defense. Robinson continued from his hot start to post a monster game, he had 161 rushing yards in the half and finished with 209. Not to be outdone, Deuce Vaughn answered on Kansas State’s opening drive with several elusive runs and a 28-yard touchdown reception. Vaughn also added several other catches that kept Wildcat drives alive and proved to be K-State’s most reliable receiving option. Both backs should be on top of many draft boards this spring and it is easy to see why.

The game of gaps. Kansas State is doing a good job of manipulating the Longhorn defense by creating gaps with H-backs and quarterback runs. Texas is leaving two safeties high to prevent the big play, but this leaves only seven men to defend the Wildcat running game. As long as the quarterback is a threat to run, the defense is outnumbered. Vaughn is also being used as a weapon in the passing game. His release creates matchup problems for the Longhorn linebackers, and he has found holes in zone coverages that have led to a touchdown reception and key third down conversion.

Money Downs. The Texas defense continues to get stops when they matter. The Longhorns might give up yards, but they have a knack for getting the stop on third or fourth down at that crucial time. Tonight, up 21-10 and following a fumble by Roschon Johnson, the Horns bent, but they did not break, stopping the Wildcats on fourth-and-two from in the redzone. The Texas offense promptly drove down the field thanks to a 68-yard run by Bijan Robinson to add a field goal. The Longhorn defense came up with another key stop while clinging to a ten-point lead late in the fourth quarter. Wildcat quarterback Adrian Martinez was forced to throw incomplete once he was flushed out of the pocket on third-and-goal from the Texas 10-yard line. This play led to a field goal instead of a touchdown. Finally, the Texas defense came up with a fumble recovery to ice the game as Kansas State attempted to tie the game.

Embarrassment of Riches. As the weeks go by, the Texas offense finds more and more weapons. Coming into the season, everyone knew that Robinson and Roschonn Johnson would make a potent duo in the backfield. We know that Xavier Worthy was one of the top receivers in the conference, if not the nation. But as the season has progressed, new threats have stepped to the fore and made the Longhorn offense almost impossible to defend when it is functioning on all cylinders. JT Sanders and Jordan Whittington were the first two to come forward, but lately, Keilan Robinson has also begun to make key contributions in the passing game. With real threats all over the field, the Texas offense can threaten defenses in numerous ways. The only thing that can stop Texas is Texas.

Road Warriors. Texas finally won a game on the road against a quality opponent. Maybe it did not finish as pretty as fans would want, but the fact remains the Longhorns did enough to defeat a top-15 team on the road and put themselves back in the conversation for the conference title.

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