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Inside the Numbers: Texas starts strong, falls flat in narrow win over Tulsa

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Early on, it looked like the Longhorns would blow out the Golden Hurricane, but fortunes changed in the second half.

Tulsa v Texas Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

As the second half continued, the tension built for Texas Longhorns fans.

The Tulsa Golden Hurricane seemed to find its rhythm late and managed to string together three consecutive scoring drives, while holding the Longhorns to two punts and a turnover, to close the game to three scores.

Tulsa’s offense seemed to find another gear in the fourth, as quarterback Luke Skipper gained confidence and began to move the ball with greater ease. The Golden Hurricane offense put up 104 of its 164 passing yards in the fourth quarter, and while only one of its touchdowns came through the air, Shamari Brooks’s one-yard touchdown run was set up by a 48-yard completion to Keylon Stokes.

It isn’t just that Tulsa moved the ball in the fourth quarter, Tulsa was brutally efficient in the final frame.

The Golden Hurricane averaged 13.6 yards per play, after averaging 4.12 yards per play in the three preceding quarters. Skipper completed four of his five attempts in the fourth quarter, as well as a big 21-yard scramble on fourth down to keep a drive alive, setting up a short touchdown run.

Texas did show vast improvement in the running game from a week ago and put the clamps on a pair of running backs who racked up more than 100 yards each in their season opener. Brooks took the lion’s share of the carries, 22 carries for 76 yards, while Corey Taylor II was nearly completely stymied, managing just 21 yards on six carries. The pair averaged just 3.46 yards per carry, after averaging 4.87 yards per carry a week ago.

Outside of the fourth quarter, the Texas defense played well, forcing the Tulsa offense off the field routinely, stopping the Golden Hurricane on 11 of their 12 third down attempts in the first three quarters. However, Tulsa managed to convert on both of their attempts in the fourth quarter, going on to score on both drives.

The Texas offense came hot to start the game, and nearly blew the doors of the Golden Hurricane, putting up 168 of offense on just 19 plays for an average of 8.84 yards per play. They slowed down significantly as the game progressed, bottoming out in the third quarter to the tune of just 48 yards on 12 plays.

During that stretch, the Longhorns had no drive last more than four plays — not counting downs that had to be replayed due to penalties.

Statistically speaking, Texas has yet to put together a complete game, as they gear up to host USC. If the Longhorns cannot clean up these miscues and play a full four quarters, they may be staring into a 1-2 start to conference play.