Wild Thing: 5 Observations from No. 20 Texas loss to No. 11 Oklahoma State

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

Wild Thing: 5 Observations from No. 20 Texas loss to No. 11 Oklahoma State

No. 11 Oklahoma State overcame a 14-point deficit to defeat No. 20 Texas 41-34. The Longhorns could not overcome a subpar performance by quarterback Quinn Ewers who struggled with accuracy throughout the game, especially in the second half. Texas only scored three second-half points and missed several chances to close out the game. Despite the score, the Texas defense played well but was worn down by the Cowboys’ offense.

The story of the game was the lack of accuracy by Quinn Ewers: The redshirt freshman making his first real road start was simply unable to hook up with open Longhorn receivers throughout the game, particularly in the second half. Ewers completed only 19 of 49 passes. Texas failed to take advantage of numerous opportunities to put the game away, opportunities that can’t be missed when facing a team as explosive as Oklahoma State. Texas could only muster 3 points in the second half against the Cowboys and posted numerous three-and-outs. In a replay of the defeat at Texas Tech earlier in the season, the Longhorn defense simply wore down after delivering a solid performance.

The running game continues to deliver: Bijan Robinson scored early on a 42-yard run and a 41-yard reception in the second quarter. Roschon Johnson also scored on a 52-yard run in the first half. As a team, Texas rushed for 160 yards in the first half on only 17 carries. One of the weaknesses of the Longhorn offense was supposed to be the young and inexperienced offensive line, but this group has performed well all season. They have opened holes for Robinson, possibly the best running back in the nation, and have protected both Quinn Ewers and Hudson Card. Robinson has also rushed for over 100 yards in six consecutive games, including 140 today.

The defense continues to come up big in key spots: The Texas defense opened the game with a big stop on a sudden change situation. After Ewers threw an interception on the opening offensive series for the Horns, Oklahoma State was held to -3 yards and was forced into a holding penalty. The Cowboys did kick a field goal to take an early lead, but the Texas defense continues to shine in crucial situations. The Longhorns’ front seven is athletic, aggressive, and capable of causing havoc against opposing offensive lines; they have applied pressure consistently against every quarterback they have faced all season. Texas also continued the trend of getting turnovers and stops in the red zone. Ryan Watts picked off Spencer Sanders on a second and goal from the Texas 12-yard line. The interception preserved a 24-17 Texas lead and was the latest in a series of timely stops this group has made. The Texas defense played well throughout the second half, holding Oklahoma State to 10 second-half points as the Texas offense struggled to click for much of the third and fourth quarters. Jaylon Ford and DeMarvion Overshown flashed repeatedly; their speed and athleticism stood out as they made plays versus the Cowboys’ backs and underneath receivers.  

Sark can scheme offense: Steve Sarkisian once again showed his skill at designing offense. On the Longhorns’ second touchdown, Sarkisian started in a bunch formation to the left; this will get a specific coverage check from Oklahoma State. From this formation, Xavier Worthy began in orbit motion away from the bunch; after a few steps, Worthy returned and came wide open for the touchdown. This was all set up by the formation that caused the coverage check that Sark knew he would get. On Texas’ next touchdown, he used a similar tactic. The Longhorn shifted a tight end and wing from one side of the formation to the other. This causes the defense to communicate and change their strength declaration.  Also, Texas’ wide receivers away from the shift lined up in a condensed set. Once the ball was snapped, Texas ran a mesh concept, crossing receivers over the middle; this caused the secondary to chase wide receivers inside, opening the outside for Bijan Robinson on a wheel route. This play is an air raid staple, made more effective by the pre-snap motion and shifting. Sarkisian is a master at using the defense’s own rules against them to create space for his playmakers. Throughout the second half, the Texas offensive scheme got players open; Ewers simply could not deliver the ball.

For Texas fans, this must be a severe and unwanted case of deja vu: For much of the day, the Longhorns outplayed Oklahoma State and, at times, looked like a team that could contend with anyone in the nation.  The defense was fast and aggressive, created pressure, forced takeaways, and played well in the red zone. Texas blocked a punt, had several big returns and won the special teams battle. The running game churned out yards and made big plays. For most of the afternoon, everything looked pretty promising, but once again, when the game was on the line, the game-clinching play eluded them.  Today the culprit was the accuracy of Ewers. You simply can’t win games in major college football without quality play from your signal caller, and today Texas simply didn’t get that from Ewers.

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