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Thoughts and Takeaways: Texas cruises past Louisiana to open the Sark era


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On a weekend where many preseason top 25 teams were upset or found themselves in nail-biters late in the 4th quarter, Texas did something they haven't done in quite some time: thoroughly beat a quality opponent. No one is going to mistake Louisiana for Alabama or Georgia, but the Ragin' Cajuns entered the season with the most returning production in the country and were coming off a 10-1 season. All the ingredients were there for an upset in Austin, but the Longhorns simply outplayed and out-coached Louisiana. There were a lot of promising signs to open the Steve Sarkisian era.

Here are some quick thoughts and takeaways on the 38-18 win to open the season:


  • Steve Sarkisian made it clear all offseason he was going to get Bijan Robinson the ball early and often. Sarkisian kept his promise as he handed the ball to the sophomore 20 times for 103 yards and a TD while Robinson also added 4 catches for 73 yards and a receiving TD. 24 touches is likely right around the number Robinson figures to be every week. It was interesting to see the ways Sarkisian used him in the passing game, including when he lined him up out wide and Card found Robinson for a big gain on a quick slant.
  • Roschon Johnson was Roschon Johnson. He did a lot of the dirty work in 2 running back sets but also had a big 14 yard reception where he leaped over a defender on a 3rd down to move the chains.
  • Keilan Robinson finally saw the field in the 3rd quarter and I bet Steve Sarkisian has some stuff up his sleeve to use throughout the season with #7. He is dangerous with the ball in his hands.
  • There were a ton of concerns at the wide receiver position coming out of camp, specifically around drops and getting in sync with the quarterbacks. For one game at least, the unit stepped up and quieted a lot of the noise. Joshua Moore (3 catches for 17 yards) and Jordan Whittington (7 catches for 113 yards and a TD) showed no signs of being slowed by the injuries they suffered during camp. Freshman Xavier Worthy got involved early with a 34 yard catch and had a nice punt return. Marcus Washington saw a decent amount of snaps as well and had a great block on the Whittington TD. The position group as a whole had no drops and will take some confidence into next week in Fayetteville. 
  • Texas ran a ton of 2 tight end sets throughout the afternoon. Cade Brewer played the most snaps and had a 6-yard touchdown on his only catch. Steve Sarkisian said after the game that Jared Wiley was dealing with a shoulder injury, which explained the lack of snaps for the junior. In his place, Gunnar Helm was thrown into the fire and did not look out of place. 
  • It was an up and down performance for the offensive line. Penalties were an issue and there were too many times where the Louisiana defensive line was getting significant push on the interior of the Texas offensive line. It was obvious early that Texas wanted to establish outside zone as their bread and butter but the offensive line was just never able to open up the big lanes. Sarkisian and offensive line coach Kyle Flood did do a good job of making some adjustments and not completely ditching the running game despite the lack of early success. They eventually found success as the Louisiana defense wore down.
  • Lastly, we have to touch on the quarterbacks. Hudson Card went 14/21 for 224 yards and a pair of touchdowns in his first start. More importantly, he did not turn the ball over and looked comfortable operating the offense. He does not get enough credit for his athleticism and was able to avoid several sacks. His touchdown throw to Brewer was a beautiful throw where he fired it in a tight window. Texas hasn't had a QB with his arm talent in a long time.
  • About halfway through the 3rd quarter, Sarkisian handed the reigns to Casey Thompson. Thompson completed 4 of 5 passes for 41 yards and a TD on a screen pass to Whittington. Thompson also had another nice 3rd down completion to Whittington where he stepped up in the pocket and delivered a good pass on the move. Long term, I am not sure how Sarkisian is going to manage the QB situation. It appears he wants to keep Thompson engaged and not have one eye on the portal, but it is not sustainable to split playing time at QB for the whole season. Maybe they are able to develop a package of plays for Thompson that the they can use situationally, but Hudson Card certainly did not do anything to lose the job in week 1.

Defense/Special Teams

  • The Texas defense gave up 358 total yards, but easily 100 of those yards came with the game in hand and the Longhorns getting snaps for the backups. It was a quality performance for Pete Kwiatkowski's group. They controlled the line of scrimmage (76 rushing yards allowed) and were not beat for any backbreaking big plays through the air. Kwiatkowski said before the season the goal is to hold the opponent to under 20 points every week, and so far they are 1 for 1.
  • Texas finished the game with 4 sacks, but the defensive line was unable to get into the backfield as frequently as many expected heading into the game. Ovie Oghoufo had a big sack and looks to be the best edge rusher Texas currently has. The Longhorns will need more push up front as they progress throughout the season. 
  • DeMarvion Overshown and Luke Brockermeyer combined for 23 tackles. Both played well. Brockermeyer in particular was a pleasant surprise and Overshown was flying around the field.
  • It was a quiet day for the DB's. Louisiana obviously had a game plan of wanting to control the ball and not ask Levi Lewis to take deep shots. The DB's for Texas had a good day of keeping everything in front of them and tackling, which has been in issue in past years. They will be tested more this upcoming week against Arkansas.
  • One of the biggest moments of the game was Keondre Coburn blocking an extra point to keep it a 21-12 game and then BJ Foster recovering the ensuing surprise onside kick. Sarkisian mentioned after the game that special teams coordinator Jeff Banks had a feeling the onside kick might be coming and alerted Foster. All-around great coaching and execution.
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Why do you think it is unsustainable to split playing time at QB for the entire season? Maybe in a close game going down to the wire, you wouldn't want to substitute a new QB at the end, but otherwise, it seemed to work out okay this time. Plus it is a much needed insurance policy against losing the other QB to injury.

I agree about Foster's onside kick recovery. I thought that was a key play of the game. Banks must be a master of detail. He may have seen something out of the ordinary on the sideline or in how they lined up.

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56 minutes ago, Coot said:

Why do you think it is unsustainable to split playing time at QB for the entire season? Maybe in a close game going down to the wire, you wouldn't want to substitute a new QB at the end, but otherwise, it seemed to work out okay this time. Plus it is a much needed insurance policy against losing the other QB to injury.

I just believe that eventually Sarkisian is going to need to ride with Card unless it is a true blowout. It is going to accelerate Card’s growth/development which will help Texas maximize what they want to do this season.

It did work out yesterday and against some teams on the schedule they can play both and be fine. But against some teams a 16 point lead late in the 3rd quarter is not a time to make a quarterback switch when the starter is playing well. Texas was in control pretty much the whole game yesterday so I believe that’s why Sark felt comfortable making a switch.

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Not sure if it is sustainable to play two qbs every game but it is necessary when possible to get reps for the next man up and keep them engaged. IMO, one of the greatest failures of the past two regimes has been player development. No better way to develop young players than in game reps. It was nice to see a game that Texas was supposed to win do so comfortable enough to get some of the backups actual game reps.

Thanks for the write up JM.

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5 hours ago, Eastexhorn said:

To me Sark said Casey would play and he kept his word. Other than OU is there another team with the Cajuns firepower on the schedule?

All teams that give their QB time to run through their progressions.  If you don't put pressure on the QB, then any QB on the schedule will do well.

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What I found as  good, bad, and ugly:

1. Good.  The defense as good as a whole, which only 1 offside penalty. 

The ST were actually special for the most part for a change misus the 2 penalties on Jamison PR for a TD. Betting on Banks to correct that in no time.

B. Robinson and K. Robinson  were as advertised. Special.

If the QBs are more than game managers I'll  be happy from their play. I hate the qb just needs to be game manager title. Mac Jones, Watson, Clemson's former qb Lawrence,  and LSU's former qb Burrow and none were game managers.


2. Bad: I thought the OLine would be better, but multiple penalties, missed blocks caused the score to be lower than what it should've  been. They were still  better than Clemson's oline from Saturday.  It's early will a real oline coach for a change, but only 1 false start as compared to years past were we probably would have had another 7-10 false starts. Still should have most understand that Flood and Sark will be harping on the f'ups this week. 

3. Defense the last quarter and half of the game, maybe be design to not show to much going forward, but the vanilla defense was figured out after the game was in hand and that maybe by design, but need to make the backups better as the season goes on.


4. Ugly: Penalties and Oline, coach Flood and Coach Sark won't blink if the super seniors are better than what they showed in this game being replaced. Karic at Right tackle and moving Junior to left guard and Johnson to R. Guard. If needed. I'll  trust the coaches until they give a reason not to.

We need to be better on showing any blitzes that we are trying. I saw at least 2-3 corner blitzes that the qb read. Need to better on that.

Overall, I would say a solid B to B+. 

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6 hours ago, david ficken said:

I thought the annoucers said we had 7 sacks,  but the box score shows only 4? Not certain what to believe. But we did  get  more pressure without lots of blitzes  which  is a good thing.

I came away with a different feeling.  I felt like our “base defense” did not pressure the QB consistently.  I could be wrong - I didn’t chart it or anything... 

I do recall a sac from Jett Bush and one from the ND transfer (whose name I cannot spell) that were not the result of a blitz.  And one when both our inside linebackers teamed up for a sac on a blitz.

That said, I love having to nit-pick for critiques (unlike the previous decade).  I feel we are well coached at last.  


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