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Thoughts and Takeaways: Questions mount during blowout loss in Fayetteville


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Let's jump right into it. The performance on Saturday night wasn't pretty in all phases.

Offense

  • As I pointed out in the game preview when discussing the Arkansas defense, Steve Sarkisian was well aware of Barry Odom and his reputation as a defensive playcaller. It is widely known that Sarkisian was very interested in potentially bringing Odom to Austin when he took over in January. Despite the familiarity and Sarkisian having faced Odom last year at Alabama, the Longhorns offensive gameplan had to be tossed in the trash several drives into the game. Odom rolled out his 3-down front with speedy LB's and DB's roaming behind the defensive line, baiting Texas to try to establish the run, and the Longhorns took the bait. Texas totaled 5 total yards of offense on their first two drives of the game while trying to hand the ball to Bijan Robinson between the tackles. The Longhorns did not have a drive with more than two first downs until their 11th (!!!!!!) drive.
  • Texas faced 3rd and long repeatedly all night, allowing Arkansas to drop 8 and blanket throwing lanes to receivers. The Longhorns never really got the running backs involved in the passing game and decided they did want to try to move the ball with the short passing game on early downs.
  • This leads into the conversation of how the QB's played. Hudson Card received the start and struggled, finishing 8/15 for 61 yards. It is obvious Sarkisian has drilled into his young signal caller to only use his legs as a last resort. As the Razorbacks rushed 3 and dropped 8, Card never really seemed comfortable taking off and running, instead opting to hold onto the ball and attempt some low percentage throws. Casey Thompson took over late in the 3rd quarter and rushed for a pair of touchdowns while completing 5 of 8 passes for 57 yards. Thompson is much more comfortable using his legs currently than Card and it shows. Texas loses this game regardless of who starts at QB, but Thompson's legs could have certainly allowed Texas another avenue of moving the ball early in the game when nothing was working. 
  • To the credit of the Texas wide receivers, the Longhorns had several chances to connect on big plays in the passing game. Xaiver Worthy broke through the secondary several times but Hudson Card was unable to deliver a catchable ball. Joshua Moore also had a time or two where he was behind a defender. Outside of those two, it was a tough day for the rest of the group. Jordan Whittington dropped several passes and did not look anything like the guy who had a big week 1.
  • To say the Texas offensive line played poorly would be an understatement. Early in the game, the line allowed several 3 man rushes to get to Hudson Card. Denzel Okafor and Jake Majors allowed a linebacker to run through the line untouched for a sack on 3rd down during Texas' second drive of the game. As run blockers, they were repeatedly blown off the ball and had to be saved several times by Bijan Robinson. I'm not sure much more needs to be said. Kyle Flood has a lot of work to do with this group.

Defense/Special Teams

  • It is safe to say Pete Kwiatkowski never faced the veer and shoot at Washington. Kendal Briles put together a solid game plan and Arkansas rushed for 333 yards while averaging 7.1 yards per carry. As expected, the Razorbacks ran KJ Jefferson a lot and asked him to not be a hero in the passing game. The Texas defensive line had an awful game. They had no sacks, were driven off the ball frequently and failed to stay in their lanes in the running game. Remember at the end of the 2020 season when the Texas offense found a lot of success running outside zone? Arkansas used the same type of running schemes to go up and down the field against the Longhorns. 
  • DeMarvion Overshown and Luke Brockermeyer were active early in the game, but once the defensive line wore down they had little impact the rest of the way. Overshown looks like a complete different player and is playing the linebacker position at a solid level. Texas needs more guys to take the same step he took.
  • On the surface, the pass defense didn't seem to be an issue since Texas only allowed 138 yards through the air, but the play of the secondary left a lot of be desired. Josh Thompson and D'Shawn Jamison played okay. Brenden Schooler did not start the game, but saw some playing time early and missed several tackles. Jerrin Thompson started in Schooler's place and had 5 tackles. BJ Foster had the play of the game with an impressive INT, but he still has a tendency to launch his shoulder anytime he wants to tackle someone instead of wrapping up. 
  • Hindsight is 20/20, but imagine if Texas retains possession on the muffed punt early in the 1st quarter. The Longhorns would have had the ball inside the Arkansas 5 and in all likelihood go up 7-0. The crowd is taken out of the game early, momentum is on the Longhorns side and the offense sees the ball get punched into the endzone. Instead, a small step out of bounds when attempting to make a recovery cost Texas an extra early possession.
  • Jeff Banks and the coaching staff need to seriously think about using someone else at punter. Cameron Dicker is currently handling placekicking, kickoffs and punting duties and is not off a good start. He is 1/3 on field goals for the season and had a punt blocked last night after bobbling the snap. The Longhorns have two other scholarship punters on the roster. One of them needs to step up and allow for Dicker to focus solely on kicking.

What's next?

It is back to the drawing board for Steve Sarkisian. It appeared the Longhorns took a good first step last week in beating a solid Louisiana team, but all progress was lost just a week later. The gameplans were not good on both sides of the ball, the players did not perform well and as a result the Longhorns got their butts kicked. Arkansas is improved from where they were a few years ago, but it was a still a game where Texas was favored by a touchdown. 

Texas will host Rice next Saturday at DKR before conference play starts the following week. Several positions, including QB, appear to be up for grabs. For all the negatives that came out of the performance Saturday night, the one positive is the top of the Big 12 appears to be wide open after Oklahoma. Iowa State was beaten soundly by Iowa in a game where Brock Purdy was benched, TCU found themselves in a nail-biter with Cal, Oklahoma State struggled mightily with Tulsa and Texas Tech barely escaped Stephen F Austin. Texas can still reach many of the goals they have for this season, but a lot is going to have to change from what they showed Saturday night.

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  • Jameson McCausland changed the title to Thoughts and Takeaways: Questions mount during blowout loss in Fayetteville

Alabama's play book won't work at Texas. We don't have a bunch of 300 pounders on both sides. Everyone has a plan until you get punched in the mouth. The play calling never adapted on either side. We got out coached and beaten in the weight room.

 I'm the biggest Card Fanboy, but during the 2nd quarter I was prepared for a change with no hard feelings. It was time to try something other than Bijan between the tackles over and over.

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Texas needs to put the QB under center and run Bijan out of an I formation or a single back formation, handing him the ball from the pistol gives the defense time to read and react. Its a horrible formation to run from

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1 minute ago, Hiwood said:

Texas needs to put the QB under center and run Bijan out of an I formation or a single back formation, handing him the ball from the pistol gives the defense time to read and react. Its a horrible formation to run from

There is no good formation when defenders make it into your backfield unmolested.  

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To those fans that want to yank Card after a less than stellar performance, you cant have such a knee jerk reaction to what was a bad game....Whittington makes that catch and the game is different....Now if you pull Card and Thompson stalls then what happens.  Its one thing to platoon QB's but no one wants to play under a system where you have a lousy game and the next week you are riding the bench, it sends a bad signal to your team and is a surefire way to get one of them  to enter the transfer portal

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28 minutes ago, Hiwood said:

To those fans that want to yank Card after a less than stellar performance, you cant have such a knee jerk reaction to what was a bad game....Whittington makes that catch and the game is different....Now if you pull Card and Thompson stalls then what happens.  Its one thing to platoon QB's but no one wants to play under a system where you have a lousy game and the next week you are riding the bench, it sends a bad signal to your team and is a surefire way to get one of them  to enter the transfer portal

Whittington didn't make that catch because it was poorly thrown. Card was inaccurate all night, which was supposed to be one of his strongpoints over Thompson.

With the decision on a starter only two weeks old, its not an issue to go with your hot hand.

Otherwise, you could be sacrificing the team for the development of one single player. 

It is interesting that you're appealing for patience with Card, but not with Thompson.

If you don't produce, then yeah, you need to ride pine. That was a very big game to be having that bad of a performance.

 

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38 minutes ago, Hiwood said:

To those fans that want to yank Card after a less than stellar performance, you cant have such a knee jerk reaction to what was a bad game....Whittington makes that catch and the game is different....Now if you pull Card and Thompson stalls then what happens.  Its one thing to platoon QB's but no one wants to play under a system where you have a lousy game and the next week you are riding the bench, it sends a bad signal to your team and is a surefire way to get one of them  to enter the transfer portal

There is a significant amount of blame that goes to the staff and the game plan but if giving way to Thompson after Saturday prompts Card to seek a transfer, he is not the competitor he has been made out to be. I expect him to go back to work and improve and compete for more reps as the season goes forward. It would not surprise me for Card to play a significant role in winning some games this season.

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9 minutes ago, Rotty22 said:

I don't agree with this statement.  We know with Card starting Texas lost.  Thompson could have done better.  Ark defensive playbook may not have worked with Thompson.  We'll never know.

 

We will never know if the outcome would have been different with Thompson, but what we do know is Texas gave up 333 yards rushing. You aren’t winning any football game getting gashed on the ground like that. It makes it worse that a large chunk of those yards came when everyone in the stadium knew the ball was being handed off in the second half.

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29 minutes ago, Jameson McCausland said:

We will never know if the outcome would have been different with Thompson, but what we do know is Texas gave up 333 yards rushing. You aren’t winning any football game getting gashed on the ground like that. It makes it worse that a large chunk of those yards came when everyone in the stadium knew the ball was being handed off in the second half.

When you go 3 and out on a consistent basis, the defense tends to get tired.  The defense might have had a better performance with a better performance on offense.  But like we've stated, we'll never know.

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2 hours ago, Sirhornsalot said:

Whittington didn't make that catch because it was poorly thrown. Card was inaccurate all night, which was supposed to be one of his strongpoints over Thompson.

With the decision on a starter only two weeks old, its not an issue to go with your hot hand.

Otherwise, you could be sacrificing the team for the development of one single player. 

It is interesting that you're appealing for patience with Card, but not with Thompson.

If you don't produce, then yeah, you need to ride pine. That was a very big game to be having that bad of a performance.

 

One of the reasons Sark was hired was his ability as a QB whisperer.  It is concerning that he made the obvious wrong choice at this MOST important position.  We now have the Alamo Bowl last year and two games this year.  The team is better with Thompson at QB.  If Sark doesn’t make this change my concern meter will overheat.

I wish fixing the OL could be so easy! 
 

Edit - Card is a r freshman with great potential.  Nothing against him.  He wasn’t yet ready for that atmosphere on that stage.  

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The OL hopefully changes to something like Karic -LT, Johnson-LG, Majors-C, Connor/Parr-RG, and Hookfin/Garth/Connor- RT. Anything is better than what we have seen for the 1st 2 weeks. Plus, most of the OL recruits need to differences in the OL to get them to commit.

Personally both QBs need to play. Who starts is mute against teams like Rice and a few others. But in bigger games  and hostile  environment like in 3 weeks at TCU and the following week against  OK we should have Casey start. Card maybe the more talented  player, but he is still a redshirt freshman that was not able to throw a deep pass accurately. 

It's  to bad that officials aren't constant on targeting calls. 

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6 hours ago, Sirhornsalot said:

Whittington didn't make that catch because it was poorly thrown. Card was inaccurate all night, which was supposed to be one of his strongpoints over Thompson.

With the decision on a starter only two weeks old, its not an issue to go with your hot hand.

Otherwise, you could be sacrificing the team for the development of one single player. 

It is interesting that you're appealing for patience with Card, but not with Thompson.

If you don't produce, then yeah, you need to ride pine. That was a very big game to be having that bad of a performance.

 

Im just saying lets not be so quick with the hook to pull Card, the last thing I want to see at UT is a QB controversy, and I dont think Card has lost the job two games into the season, does his performance against ULL not get him any cred or were you in the CT camp from the get go...If Card has a lackluster performance against Rice, then by all means make the change, ....nobody played well against Arky

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7 hours ago, david ficken said:

The OL hopefully changes to something like Karic -LT, Johnson-LG, Majors-C, Connor/Parr-RG, and Hookfin/Garth/Connor- RT. Anything is better than what we have seen for the 1st 2 weeks. Plus, most of the OL recruits need to differences in the OL to get them to commit.

While I wouldn't be surprised if they made a few tweaks along the OL, replacing 4 of 5 starters probably isn't happening. Kerstetter has probably been the most consistent lineman through 2 games. Him and Majors are probably both safe. Christian Jones could probably improve in the run game but his pass protection looks improved from a season ago. Sarkisian and Flood are going to have to decide if they want to sacrifice some run blocking for pass protection. Junior Angilau and Denzel Okafor have been the two biggest liabilities when Texas is dropping back to pass but are also supposed to be their two best run blockers. 

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12 hours ago, Sirhornsalot said:

Whittington didn't make that catch because it was poorly thrown. Card was inaccurate all night,

It hit Whit in the face mask. There were some missed passes, there was also no protection.

 Go with the change in any game whenever you need to. Then see who has the hot hand.

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10 hours ago, 83Dee said:

The team is better with Thompson at QB.

Game 1 Card was superior and had 1 of Texas best ever Freshman game 1's. Game 2 was a  disaster, not all on a QB who had no int's. and mostly was asked to hand the ball off and dig us out of big holes. Casey looked better, but by then the game was out of reach and the playbook was different. Casey has earned a start, but this competition isn't over. If he can't move the team then a change should be made.

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8 hours ago, david ficken said:

Card maybe the more talented  player, but he is still a redshirt freshman that was not able to throw a deep pass accurately. 

If Card shortens up on those passes, they might be int's? there is a thing called throwing the receiver open. After seeing our receiver's so far, we are in for a tough year unless we utilize more targets than wide outs. There has been a huge lack of separation, hence the QB holding the ball so long on occasion, no targets. It's not all QB.

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11 hours ago, Rotty22 said:

When you go 3 and out on a consistent basis, the defense tends to get tired.  The defense might have had a better performance with a better performance on offense.  But like we've stated, we'll never know.

A&M sputtered on CU but shut CU offense down till  offense finally CU D down & only won 10-7,but they won.

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7 hours ago, Hiwood said:

Im just saying lets not be so quick with the hook to pull Card, the last thing I want to see at UT is a QB controversy, and I dont think Card has lost the job two games into the season, does his performance against ULL not get him any cred or were you in the CT camp from the get go...If Card has a lackluster performance against Rice, then by all means make the change, ....nobody played well against Arky

No body playedwell except Casey and maybe Foster. Casey also had better passing stats vs La.

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1 hour ago, Johnny Depp said:

If Card shortens up on those passes, they might be int's? there is a thing called throwing the receiver open. After seeing our receiver's so far, we are in for a tough year unless we utilize more targets than wide outs. There has been a huge lack of separation, hence the QB holding the ball so long on occasion, no targets. It's not all QB.

 

Ifs and butswere fruit and nuts we all would have a merry christmas.

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