(Photo: USA Today)
All momentum Texas had to start the 2022 season came to screeching halt Saturday afternoon in Lubbock as the Longhorns fell in overtime 37-24 to Texas Tech to open Big 12 play. Here are some quick thoughts and takeaways, along with thoughts on what is next as the Longhorns look to bounce back.
- It was deja vu all over again as the Longhorns held a 14-point lead in the second half but couldn't find a way to pull away. Saturday's game looked familiar to those who followed Texas in 2021.
- Holding a 24-14 lead at halftime, Texas forced the Red Raiders into a turnover on downs to open the second half. With great field position at the Texas Tech 40, the Longhorn offense did the following: 1 yard run by Bijan Robinson, 5 yard screen to Gunnar Helm, 2 yard run out of the wildcat with Roschon Johnson. Faced with a 4th and 2, Steve Sarkisian opted to go for it and went to the wildcat formation again. Johnson was stuffed for no gain.
- The Texas defense allowed Texas Tech to go 6 for 8 on 4th down, which forced the Longhorns to defend 100 plays. Pete Kwiatkowski's unit failed to get off the field in critical moments. If the Red Raiders fail to convert on just 1 or 2 of their successful 4th down attempts, Texas likely wins the game running away.
- It was disappointing to see Texas fail to turn over Donovan Smith, who had shown a knack for throwing the ball to the other team entering this matchup. Smith threw 56 times, completing 38 of his attempts for 331 yards. The Red Raiders were content with driving down the field with short passes, and the Texas defense put up little resistance.
- Offensively, Texas found little success in the second half outside of a 40-yard TD run from Bijan Robinson. The Longhorns’ final 5 drives went: punt, punt, punt, FG to tie the game, fumble.
- The interior of the Texas offensive line was whipped for most of the second half and had no answers for the interior of the Texas Tech DL.
- Special teams had a relatively good day outside of a Will Stone kickoff that went out of bounds.
Texas can not let the season spiral out of control like last year. The Longhorns must find a way defensively to get off the field on 3rd and 4th downs. Offensively, the return of Quinn Ewers and injury status of Xavier Worthy loom large. If neither can play next week, Steve Sarkisian will need to find a way to manufacture a passing game because defenses are beginning to stack the box more and more.
The season is not over due to one conference loss, but the margin for error is razor thin the rest of the way. The Big 12 is wide open this year and there is are no cupcakes. Every week will be a dogfight the rest of the way.