Facing a Baylor Bears team that has been decimated by COVID-19 and several key injuries, the Texas Longhorns did what they needed to do to get back in the win column and took care of business at home today.
Similar to each of the previous two games, the offense got off to a snail-paced start. At first, it was tough sledding on the ground and through the air. Texas had 25 total yards in the first quarter after two weeks of preparation against a depleted team.
But thanks to another valiant effort from Sam Ehlinger, the offense rallied around their senior quarterback and put together their best second half performance of the year. Ehlinger willingly led the offense while taking numerous hits to his chest, head and neck area throughout the game. For any of his doubters, there’s no question that he’s one of the toughest competitors in college football. He puts it all on the line and gives his maximum effort each and every game.
Deep pass plays of over 40 yards to Tarik Black, Joshua Moore and Jared Wiley provided the spark this offense needed. Offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich’s route-tree creativity opened up the seam and caused confusion for Baylor’s defensive backs, which is why Black and Wiley were so wide open. Moore’s 42-yard leaping catch was special. Those big plays led to 17 of the 27 points Texas scored.
Wiley should be the team’s primary tight end target instead of Cade Brewer in passing situations. He’s proven himself more than enough as a downfield threat.
True freshman Bijan Robinson seemed to have established himself as Texas’ lead running back in this game. He was gaining at least 4-5 yards with consistency. Despite being dealt with limited room to run between the tackles, Robinson made the most of his carries. He averaged 4.6 yards on 12 carries. Keaontay Ingram averaged just 3.6 yards on 16 carries. It’ll be interesting to see if Robinson officially takes over as the team’s lead back going forward. At the very least, he deserves more opportunities in goal-to-go situations.
Baylor’s offense isn’t anything special. They entered today’s game averaging only 304 total yards per game. But that’s not to take away from the stout effort Texas’ defense put forth in this game. It certainly helps when facing a quarterback like Charlie Brewer, who isn’t much of a threat throwing the ball over 10-15 yards.
Going up against an offensive line unit playing without two key starters, the Longhorns defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage. The duo of Joseph Ossai and Moro Ojomo caused havoc on Brewer and the Baylor run game.
It’s been awhile since a Texas team was this active disrupting passes around the line of scrimmage. Alfred Collins, Keondre Coburn and DeMarvion Overshown each got in the way of passing lanes and batted down a pass at the line. As a team, the Longhorns had a total of NINE pass breakups in this game. Three of those breakups could have easily been interceptions.
While it was only Baylor, Chris Ash’s defensive unit has shown noticeable improvement each week since the game at Texas Tech a month ago. Team tackling in space has improved, too. Life gets tougher against a Mike Gundy-coached Oklahoma State offense next Saturday.
All in all, the Longhorns finally played a quality game for more than two quarters. Odds were against Baylor considering the amount of time they’ve missed away from the field. If Texas were to lose this game, it would have meant rock bottom for the program.
Next up? Oklahoma State in Stillwater on Halloween afternoon.
Rest up, especially Ehlinger, and hit the reset button to get ready for an undefeated Cowboys team. Texas still has a long way to go if they want to compete for a conference championship. 1-0 mentality the rest of the way — Tom Herman’s mantra.