The Texas Longhorns defeated the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns in a season-opening contest that was essentially one-sided. Head coach Steve Sarkisian saw a lot of positives in the victory, but his first win with the program wasn't without critique. Sarkisian rotated a lot of players and highlighted the Longhorns' depth at a myriad of positions. While the win was a solid one, we take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly in Saturday's play at DKR-TMS.
The offense was the most precarious of the units following the conclusion of fall camp and headed in to the regular season. Overall they played well in Sark's head coaching debut, which is something that should give the coaching staff optimism moving forward. Starting quarterback Hudson Card (redshirt freshman) looked comfortable under center, but the offensive line struggled at times with pass rush and blocking. Card totaled three touchdowns before being replaced by Casey Thompson late in the game.
Running back Bijan Robinson shined as expected, racking up 104 yards and a touchdown on the ground on 20 carries. Robinson also had 73 receiving yards and a touchdown on four receptions. Sarkisian's goal of getting the sophmore 20+ touches per game, something that didn't happen last season, yielded dividends. That will continue to pay out from Bijan as the season progresses.
Sans Jordan Whittington's monster effort on the day, the Texas receivers were relatively quiet. Whittington had 7 catches for 113 yards and a touchdown in his breakout performance with the Longhorns. Outside of Whittington, who was Card's top target of the day, both Joshua Moore and Xavier Worthy need more catches and production. The two combined just 4 catches for 41 yards. Given Whittington's injury history, Card and Thompson need the other wideouts to step up and become playmakers. This is critical for the offense to have success in 2021 as teams will focus on stopping the Texas rushing attack led by Robinson and Roschon Johnson. Worthy and Moore flashed potential in Saturday's game but the plays just didn't materialize.
The offensive line for the Longhorns gave up three sacks as a unit. While this isn't awful, the eye test revealed much more of a problem for this group. There were several times Card was able to outrun a sack, but the Longhorns will face better defensive fronts throughout the season. Sarkisian's starting five on the line includes guard Junior Angilau, who left the game with a knee injury and did not return. His injury will be something to monitor as Texas prepares this week for their trip to Fayetteville. Kyle Flood's group is headed into enemy territory with a raucous fanbase and the offensive line will need to help Card out more than they did against the Ragin' Cajuns.
Many coaches often say that the biggest improvement you see from a team is during the Week 1 to Week 2 transition. All eyes will be on the Longhorns at 6:00 PM next Saturday.