Photo Courtesy: Daniel Dunn - USA TODAY Sports
On Thursday, the Longhorns looked to shock the higher-ranked Washington Huskies in the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, TX. Entering Thursday's contest with the nation's top-ranked passing offense, the Huskies were certain to give the Longhorns a challenge and they did just that. However, the Longhorns managed to claw their way back into a competitive battle, ultimately falling to the Huskies 27-20.
With weeks to prepare for the twelfth-ranked Huskies, the Longhorns entered this year's bowl contest with a few missing pieces - including star players Bijan Robinson, Roschon Johnson and DeMarvion Overshown, who all declared early for the NFL Draft. With these three cheering on their teammates from the sidelines, the Longhorns proved that they still could compete with one of the best teams in the country.
At quarterback for the Longhorns, Quinn Ewers looked to salvage what was left of this year after experiencing a regular season that was full of tumultuous ups and downs. Under the roof of the Alamodome, Ewers delivered - giving the Longhorns a chance time and time again with 369 passing yards and one touchdown. While there were some bumps in the road against Washington, Ewers gave his playmakers a shot to do just that - make plays. However, Thursday's contest will be remembered for the plethora of dropped passes that Texas receivers suffered, the biggest of which was a potential touchdown catch that wide receiver Xavier Worthy could not hold onto in the second half (one of at least three drops that the sophomore suffered on Thursday night).
Despite a number of disappointing moments for the Longhorns, their playmakers still fought to make things close. For example, despite of a performance that Xavier Worthy will most likely want back, the talented sophomore still caught seven passes for 84 yards, many of which came in crucial moments. Additionally, sophomore running back Jonathon Brooks made a couple of big plays for the burnt orange faithful, scoring two touchdowns in the absence of Bijan and Roschon. Furthermore, it was Brooks's second touchdown, which came with 9:50 remaining in the game, that gave the Longhorns a sense of hope as Washington's lead was cut to 27-17.
However, the Longhorns offense was far from consistent, thanks to the aforementioned dropped passes in addition to a dismal performance on the ground as well. In fact, the Washington defense held the Longhorns to just 51 rushing yards on 18 carries. Texas's two featured running backs, Keilan Robinson and Jonathon Brooks, actually tallied more yardage in the passing game than they were able to discover on the ground in their running lanes.
Although the offense had a frustrating outing, the Longhorns defense looked stout more often than not and certainly gave the team a chance. Moreover, the 27 points that the Longhorns allowed amounted to Washington's second-lowest scoring output of the season, only trailing Oregon State who held Washington to 24 points in a Huskies win.
Under center for Washington, junior quarterback Michael Penix Jr. passed for 287 yards, two touchdowns and an interception but, most importantly, seemingly always found a way to move the sticks on third down. In this year's Alamo Bowl, the Huskies went 11-20 on third down conversions, a sizable advantage over Texas's 6-15 on third down tries.
Along with Penix, Huskies running back Wayne Taulapapa ended up being a difference maker thanks to his 108 rushing yards on 14 carries. The graduate student was able to keep his legs moving all night and found his way into the end zone on one occasion.
With the conclusion of Thursday's game, the Longhorns will ultimately have to settle for a record of 8-5 in 2022. When compared to last year's final record of 5-7, it is hard to ignore signs of improvement. However, Longhorns fans will have to wait until next season to see if Texas's winning ways will soon come crawling back.
- QB Quinn Ewers: 31/47, 359 passing yards, 1 TD
- RB Jonathon Brooks: 55 all-purpose yards, 2 TDs
- WR Casey Cain: 4 receptions, 108 receiving yards
- S Jerrin Thompson: 11 tackles, 1 INT
- LB Diamonte Tucker-Dorsey: 10 tackles
- LB Jaylan Ford: 10 tackles