It was yet another dominant early-season showing from the Horns against an overmatched opponent, with the outcome essentially decided early in the second quarter.
Here are a few initial takeaways from Texas’ win over Rice.
- Texas didn’t let the LSU loss linger. After such an emotional win and being matched up against a winless Rice squad, nobody would have been surprised if Texas came out a bit flat and looked less than impressive against the Owls. The players and staff continually noted throughout the week that that wouldn’t be the case, but until you see it, you never know. Well, now that we have seen it, it’s safe to say Tom Herman’s culture is, indeed, rubbing off on his team, as Texas looked as dominant as it has all season, cruising to a quick 31-0 halftime lead and leaving no doubt that they were focused on the task at hand. That wasn’t always the case for this program, and it’s a refreshing reality as Texas gears up for Big 12 play.
- Texas, again, dominated a team it was supposed to. In following up on the first note, Texas not only bounced back, but did so convincingly, with the game not even being as close as the 48-13 final score could possibly indicate. Even as recently as last season, the Horns had trouble with teams that they quite clearly overmatched on paper, such as Tulsa and Kansas. But to begin the 2019 season, Texas has seen two such opponents in Louisiana Tech and Rice, outpacing the two by a combined score of 93-27, despite benching the bulk of the starters in the third quarter of each outing. Also notable from this particular performance is aside from the Texas offense quickly building a 31-0 lead, the defense didn’t allow Rice to cross into Texas territory for the first time until just over five minutes remained in the third quarter.
- The Texas offense is showing signs of consistency. After scoring on each of its final five series last week against LSU, which included four touchdowns, the Texas offense picked up right where it left off against Rice. The Longhorns scored touchdowns on each of their first four drives against the Owls, and six of their first seven overall when you exclude the final play of the first half. This stretch likely only ended because Texas benched its starting skill players, including Sam Ehlinger. All told, throughout this stretch, Texas scored on 11 of 12 drives, including 10 touchdowns. This kind of offensive success has quite simply been unfathomable in Austin in recent memory.
- Sam Ehlinger may be finding some chemistry with Jake Smith. Entering the evening, the former Gatorade National Player of the Year had just five catches for 51 yards and one touchdown to his name, but that total could have quite easily been much higher has Ehlinger delivered a handful of targets on the mark throughout the first two weeks. Against Rice, it appeared the two finally found a bit of rhythm. Ehlinger found Smith for a 53-yard touchdown in the first half after the freshman blew past Rice safety Prudy Calderon up the seam.
Later in the half, the two connected yet again on a short our route, which Smith took to the house for a 12-yard score. By the end of the evening, Smith surpassed his previous season total of five receptions, hauling in six catches for a team-high 75 yards and the two noted touchdowns. Smith’s three touchdown receptions to date are also now just five shy of tying Roy Williams’ freshman school record of eight.
- Keaontay Ingram established a bit of a rhythm. Speaking of not letting a loss linger, much was made of Keaontay Ingram’s wide open drop in the end zone of Texas’ 45-38 loss to LSU, which noticeably impacted his performance and body language throughout the rest of the game. Throughout the week, his coaches and teammates pointed praise and support in his direction, noting confidence that the sophomore would bounce back, and he did just that against Rice. Ingram’s stat sheet wasn’t the most overwhelming, as he totaled just 74 yards on 13 carries, but two of those, including a 26-yard scamper, went for touchdowns, which set a new career-high in rushing scores.
Ingram also added a pair of catches for 19 yards. Again, it wasn’t the kind of performance that will catch your eye on the surface, but it was his best showing of the season and an ideal way to put the LSU loss completely behind him, which Texas will need from its top ball carrier as the Horns turn their attention to Oklahoma State.