RECAP: Texas Routs Rice 58-0 behind Robinson, Johnson rushing attack
AUSTIN, Tx -- The Texas Longhorns (2-1, 0-0) handed a 58-0 shutout defeat to the Rice Owls (0-3, 0-0) at Darrell K. Memorial - Texas Memorial Stadium on Saturday evening in a game that Texas dominated from the first snap. The Longhorns scored at will on the Owls, and mixed in a variety of new wrinkles in the playbook in doing so. After a humiliating performance last week in Fayetteville, Steve Sarkisian and staff put together a gameplan against Rice that spread the ball around more and included a myriad of players that didn't see the field last week. Postgame, Sarkisian spoke on his team's ability to bounce back after a collective commitment and effort to try and improve after the loss to Arkansas.
"When you have to take a big bite of the humble pie like we had to after last week, we challenged the guys that we had to own it. And then we have to get back to work. I thought the intent and mentality of our team all week long in practice translated to the game."
Quarterback Casey Thompson got the starting nod from Sarkisian earlier in the week and made the most of his opportunity, throwing for 164 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Hudson Card replaced Thompson midway through the third quarter and finished the night 2-3 for 29 yards after handing the ball off on most snaps.
Texas tallied 620 yards of total offense, compared to the Owls' 284 yards. The margin of victory was the largest for the Longhorns since the 2005 season.
The offense did their job, but It was the running game that highlighted the night for the Longhorns. Texas ran wild against a struggling Rice defense and saw four different running backs score touchdowns. Bijan Robinson had 13 carries for 127 yards and three touchdowns, while Roschon Johnson had 3 carries for 112 yards and a touchdown. Alabama transfer Keilan Robinson added 83 yards and a touchdown on 5 carries, and true freshman Jonathon Brooks had 9 carries for 63 yards and a score.
Rice went through three quarterbacks on the night and punted in seven of eleven total possessions.
The Owls won the coin toss and deferred to the second half, giving Texas the ball first, and an opportunity to manufacture a 9-play, 69 yard drive that was capped by Bijan Robinson's first touchdown of the night. After a Rice punt in their first possession, Casey Thompson was picked off by Gabe Taylor as he was pressured by Rice's Ikenna Enechukwu. Rice marched downfield, deep into Texas territory before Collin Riccitelli missed a 30-yard FG and gave the Longhorns the ball back.
Roschon Johnson added a 72-yard touchdown run when he took a direct snap out of the 'Wild Horn' formation, giving Texas a 14-0 advantage. After three and out, Keilan Robinson then blocked Rice's punt which bounced out of the end zone and gave the Longhorns a safety and a 16-0 lead after one quarter.
Bijan Robinson opened the second quarter with a bang, adding a pair of touchdown runs which included a 62 yard romp, to extend the lead to 30-0 in favor of the Longhorns. Rice punted on their next possession and Texas scored again, with Thompson finding tight end Jared Wiley for a 20-yard touchdown. The Owls' struggles continued, as they fumbled at the 1:30 mark before the half, allowing Texas to score again. Thompson threw his second touchdown pass of the night, finding Xavier Worthy for his first score as a Longhorn.
At the half, Texas led 44-0.
Rice opened the second half with possession but went three and out. Texas running back Keilan Robinson demonstrated his speed by outrunning defenders while ripping off a 65-yard touchdown run. After another punt by the Owls, true freshman Jonathan Brooks capped a 13-play, 76-yard drive with a 17 yard scamper into the end zone. After three quarters the longhorns led 58-0.
Neither team scored in the fourth quarter but the Longhorns were able to get a slew of reserve players on both sides of the ball into the game which Sarkisian feels is critical for the future.
Texas hosts Texas Tech next Saturday at 11:00 am in the Big 12 opener for both teams.
The Good, Bad & Ugly Following the Dismantling of Rice
There is only so much to extract from Saturday's game again the Rice Owls, but there was a lot of good in the game for the Longhorns. First, games like these can be easy to overlook and Texas didn’t get caught doing that. When you drum a team 58-0, it is always a good night on the turf. The Longhorns were able to get back to what they do best - running the football. This is critical moving forward in order for Texas to achieve their goals for the season. The Longhorns had 427 yards on the ground and averaged over 10 yards a rush. The focal point of Steve Sarkisian's offense was manifested last night, and the offensive strategy moving forward is clear. Big 12 play starts next week and the verdict is still out on if they can run the ball against quality conference opponents.
In a 58-0 shutout win you’re usually nitpicking to find the bad things. With that being said, the wide receivers are still struggling to make plays down the field which is needed for Sarkisian's offense to truly take off. There were plays to be made and Casey Thompson and the wide receivers just couldn’t connect on a number of occasions. Freshman WR Xavier Worthy looked like a legit threat at wideout and it is good to see him getting things going in-game. If he’s able to continue to create explosive plays it will take attention away from Bijan which would help the offense tremendously.
If you run for over 400 yards the offensive line can’t be that bad right? Well considering the competition that is Rice, the starting offensive line left some to be desired... especially in the passing game. In the play that resulted in Casey Thompson throwing an interception, there was interior pressure that forced a bad pass. If the offensive line continues to struggle it’s hard to think young QB’s like Thompson & Card can have much success. The good news is that outside of the interception, the offensive line played much better on Saturday. It’s hard to take too much from this game but next week against Texas Tech we will have another opportunity to see if they have truly made adjustments and improved. Andrej Karic played some in the second half and picked right up where he left off last season. It would be nice to see him get a shot with the starting unit.
Thoughts and Takeaways: Texas runs wild in blowout win over Rice
Steve Sarkisian said earlier this week that Texas needed to learn to hate losing more than they liked winning. The Longhorns appear to have taken that message to heart for at least one game as they took out a lot of anger on Rice Saturday evening.
Here are some thoughts and takeaways from the blowout win:
It’s hard to truly gauge a lot of what we saw considering the opponent, but it should be stated Texas was 26 point favorites according to Vegas. It was expected the Longhorns would win rather comfortably, but this game turned into a route early. Texas came out with a high level of intensity from the opening kickoff and Rice never really had a chance. A week after the Longhorns’ offensive line was whipped in Fayetteville, the unit helped pave the way for a 426 yard rushing performance. Steve Sarkisian appeared to lean more on outside running schemes and was rewarded with huge performances from Bijan Robinson, Roschon Johnson and Keilan Robinson. Texas pretty much abandoned the outside run at Arkansas, so it will be interesting to see if Sarkisian continues to emphasize the running scheme his lineman and running backs appear to be most comfortable with. Casey Thompson turned in a good performance in his first career start. Thompson finished 15 for 18 for 164 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He did toss an interception in the first quarter as he was hit releasing a deep ball. Outside of the interception though, it was a clean performance and Thompson earned another start next week against Texas Tech. Back to the offensive line for a moment. The unit still has major issues when Texas operates a traditional drop back passing game. Christian Jones was beaten badly and called for a holding penalty in the second quarter in addition to the interior of the offensive line allowing a lot of pressure up the middle early in the game. At this point, Steve Sarkisian is going to have to scheme around the weaknesses his offensive line has. Keilan Robinson showed how electric he can be with a 65 yard TD run in the third quarter. Texas is going to need to find a way to get him 5-8 touches a game and utilize his speed. He also had a textbook blocked punt in the second quarter. Defensively, there is not a whole lot you can take away from this game. This was a terrible matchup for Rice, who emphasizes trying to win at the line of scrimmage and running between the tackles. The matchup was made worse when the Owls had to turn to their 3rd string QB before halftime due to injuries. The Texas pass defensive honestly hasn’t been tested too much through the first 3 weeks of the season due to the style of opponents they were playing, but that is set to change next week. Texas Tech is coming to Austin and the Red Raiders are not afraid to throw the ball all over the field. Overall, it was the performance Texas needed after what happened in Fayetteville. The Longhorns dominated from start to finish and now have to turn their attention to conference play.
2022 Texas Football Recruiting Class (21)NamePos.High SchoolCity, StateStarsSAledo High SchoolAledo, TXDLMarlinMarlin, TXRBKlein CainHouston, TXDLTexas HighTexarkana, TXDESouthaven High SchoolSouthaven, MSDLHewitt-Trussvile High SchoolTrussville, ALOLFriscoFrisco, TXLBMartinArlington, TXATHLiberty High SchoolHenderson, NVSRyan High SchoolDenton, TXLBMater Dei High SchoolSanta Ana, CACBWarren Easton High SchoolNew Orleans, LARBTyler LegacyTyler, TXQBJunipero SerraGardena, CAWRLewisvilleLewisville, TXOLWestlakeAustin, TXDTNorth ShoreHouston, TXDEBrophy College PreparatoryPhoenix, AZLSWilliams Field High SchoolGilbert, AZN/AKRegents School of AustinAustin, TXEDGEAscension CatholicDonaldsonville, LA