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Another week, another heartbreaking loss for Texas Let's start big picture. Steve Sarkisian said something after the game that I had not crossed my mind previously. He mentioned Texas has a mental block when it comes to making the plays necessarily to put a team away in the second half, and it is his responsibility to help them get over that block . When the Longhorns jump out to an early lead or are off to a good start, it is like the players are almost waiting for something bad to happen. This program has played in so many nail-baiters over the last 3-4 years that it almost seems like an expectation to a lot of players. Let me be clear, this is not an excuse for Texas losing games and there are many more issues that need to be addressed but it is just something additional to think about when looking back on the the last two weeks. In terms of the on field performance, let's start with the defense. Pete Kwiatkowski came out with a pretty good game plan and Texas played winning football on defense for about 3 and a half quarters. The dam eventually broke the last few possessions after they had been on the field nearly the entire second half, but the overall performance should have been good enough for a win. Kwiatkowski opted to operate out of 3-man front for the majority of the game with Alfred Collins anchoring one of the edge spots. This turned out to a smart decision. The stats show Texas allowed 220 yards rushing, but about 90 of those yards came on the final two possessions (excluding the possession that ended in a kneel down) when Texas was completely out of gas including the drive when the Longhorns effectively let OSU score because they had to get the ball back. DeMarvion Overshown exited early in the contest with a concussion, and Jaylan Ford saw extended action in Overshown's place and played well. Ford ended up leading Texas in tackles with 12. Offensively, Texas started out by marching right down the field on their opening drive and it slowly went downhill from there. Casey Thompson had by far his worst performance of the year (15/27 179 yards 1 touchdown and 2 INT's). His first INT was a pick-6 as Texas was driving deep into OSU territory to potentially make it a 20-3 or 24-3 game. Instead, OSU got to go into the locker room only down 17-13. The second half performance from the offense was awful. Texas scored on their first drive and then did not record another first down. 6 straight drives that ended in 4 plays or less. That's hard to believe. We will likely never know how much Thompson's thumb injury was bothering him, but if I was Steve Sarkisian I would have made a quarterback change at some point in the 4th quarter. The Longhorns offense needed some sort of spark and Oklahoma State was pinning their ears back knowing Thompson couldn't push the ball down the field. Kyle Flood opted to play musical chairs with the offensive line for much of the afternoon. Tope Imade started at LG but ended up splitting a lot of time with Hayden Conner. Christian Jones started at LT but ended up sharing a lot of snaps with Andrej Karic. I would expect those battles to continue throughout the bye week and into the Baylor game. As a whole, the offensive line spent much of the second half on roller skates for the second straight week. Oklahoma State was more physical up front and it showed. Texas needs to be in the market for at least a tackle and a guard in the portal once the offseason hits. They simply can not afford to waste Bijan Robinson's final year on campus with below average offensive line. Overall, it was another disappointing performance and now Texas is going to have to sit on it for two weeks with the bye week upcoming. This team has a lot of holes and the coaching staff has to find a way to scheme around their deficiencies better. They are doing it in the first half regularly, but the flood gates have now opened in the second half in back to back weeks.
Let's jump straight into it as the Longhorns moved to 4-1 on the season and 2-0 in conference play. Steve Sarkisian was the first person to admit after the game that Texas was very sloppy at times today. The Longhorns settled for field goals far too often in the red zone and struggled mightily to get the passing game going. Despite all that, Texas was able to beat a team they were 2-7 against the previous 9 years. TCU made their fair share of mistakes as well, but this certainly felt like a game Texas would have lost in previous seasons. Bijan Robinson put the Texas offense on his back. The sophomore carried the ball 35 times for 216 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He was the best player on the field and Steve Sarkisian showed no hesitation in putting the ball in his hands with the game on the line. If Robinson continues to build on what he's done through the first 5 games of the season, he should be in New York in December. The Texas receivers struggled today outside of Jordan Whittington. Xavier Worthy had several drops and was a non-factor for most of the afternoon and Joshua Moore was only able to catch 3 passes for 13 yards. Marcus Washington played a good amount and continues to show excellent effort as a blocker, but Texas will need more consistency from the position group moving forward to help out Casey Thompson. Speaking of Thompson, he experienced some struggles today for the first time in his career. He completed 12 of 22 passes for 142 yards and a touchdown along with a bad interception. The interception was a bad decision to throw into triple coverage down the field to Xavier Worthy. Worthy was being held on the play and it probably should have been a flag, but Thompson simply can not make that throw. He also forced several other throws into tight windows that could have been picked off. He did rebound nicely to throw a touchdown to Whittington on a RPO early in the 4th quarter. The Texas offensive line had an up and down day, but the biggest storyline was the injury to Denzel Okafor. Once Okafor went down, Kyle Flood opted to slide Derek Kerstetter inside to LG and insert Andrej Karic at RT. Karic had several nice blocks in the running game and appeared to play well off the bench. Pete Kwiatkowski and the Texas defense did enough to get the job done. The Longhorns forced 2 defensive turnovers (the 3rd turnover came on special teams) and should have had another when both DeMarvion Overshown and Luke Brockermeyer had their hands on a Max Duggan pass. Kwiatkowski appeared content with getting TCU to dink and dunk their way down the field while waiting for a mistake and limiting big plays. The plan worked for the most part as the Horned Frogs were unable to push the ball down the field through the air. The lone sack for the defense came on a strip sack from Anthony Cook on a beautifully called nickel blitz. Cook had another outstanding game and might be the best player in the Texas secondary right now. The defensive line was asked to contain Duggan for much of the game and try to shut down the running game with Zach Evans. Duggan's longest run of the day was 10 yards. Evans had a good game (15 carries for 113 yards) and probably should have received more touches. The one aspect the Texas defense is lacking right now is consistent pass rush from their edge players. It is not likely something that is going to change over the course of the season, so the coaching staff is going to have to make do and lean on their interior defensive line to try to get to the quarterback. Outside of Bijan Robinson, the MVP for the game should go to Cameron Dicker. The senior was 4/4 on field goals and also averaged 46.5 yards on his two punts. Dicker had been inconsistent to start the year, but Texas needed him to come through today and he delivered.
ESPN (Mike Davis of Texas Longhorns to enter NFL draft - ESPN) is reporting that Mike Davis will leave Texas to pursue a career in the NFL. This is big news, and not the best news, for Texas because Mike Davis was one of the leading receiver for the Longhorns. Before last season started, I thought that Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley would be like 1A and 1B options (not in any order). Though I thought Shipley may do better, Davis actually ended up with the better stats. In his bounce-back junior season Davis tallied 57 receptions (2nd to Shipley's 59) for 939 receiving yards (led team) and 7 TD's (led receivers). Davis also led all receivers in yards-per-catch with 16.5 (led receivers who had more than 10 receptions) and recorded the longest touchdown past from scrimmage with his 75-yard bomb against Texas Tech in early November. There's no doubt Mike Davis has talent that can succeed at the next level. He is explosive and also is a great with the ball in his hands after the catch. The one area where he needs to improve is catching the ball because he it struggle with drops from time to time. As of right now I think 3rd round is what he's looking at. Maybe 2nd if he has a great combine and Pro Day at UT. For Texas, this does hurt because Ash and Davis had a great connection on the field. But Texas still has good depth at the receiver position and I expect guys like Cayleb Jones, Marcus Johnson, John Harris, Bryant Jackson, and Kendall Sanders to all fight for playing time. Soon to be freshman, Jacorey Warrick and Jake Oliver could also see some action as well, but Texas will need to find a new deep threat at receiver because that's where Davis excelled. It's tough news for the Longhorns because Davis had some great production opposite Shipley this past season. But at the end of the day I can't blame the guy for going after the paycheck and doing what's best for his family. Hook'em