Without putting too fine of a point on it, the Texas Longhorns just couldn’t get it done offensively against the TCU Horned Frogs on Saturday.
Going against Gary Patterson is always going to be a struggle for offenses, but Texas truly was unable to get things going for most of the game and it cost them. From the quarterback to their inability to capitalize on TCU miscues, the offense left a lot on the field and a lot to be desired in week 3.
Sam Ehlinger: 17/36 (47.2 percent), 236 yards, 4 TD, INT
The senior captain has had better outings for the Longhorns.
It seems that, much like any other Texas quarterback, Gary Patterson’s defense has Ehlinger’s number. His performance on Saturday was nowhere near as disastrous as last year’s debacle, but it’s clear Ehlinger can’t figure out Patterson’s defense.
Since taking over as the full-time starter in 2018, Ehlinger has been held below 50 percent completions just three times. Two of those were the 2019 and 2020 matchups against TCU, both losses. The other was the 2018, win over the USC Trojans.
Ehlinger also struggled to find consistency against the Horned Frogs, finishing the day averaging just 6.6 yards per completion. That’s in the bottom 25 percent of his three years as the starter. He opened the game with four consecutive incompletions and finished the opening frame 3-for-10 passing for 69 yards and a touchdown.
First Down Yards: TCU — 219. Texas — 108
Calling a good game gets really easy for offenses when you can find success on first downs and Texas gave TCU that opportunity.
Nearly 48 percent of TCU’s total offensive yardage came on first down, most of it coming on the ground — 134 yards on 22 rushes. For comparison, Texas managed just 47 yards on the ground on first downs, an average of 3.9 yards per play. Nine of TCU’s 25 total first-down conversions actually came on first downs, including five runs longer than 10 yards.
This obviously put TCU at a significant advantage on later downs, facing four yards or less to go on seven of their 17 third-down attempts, converting five. Texas finished the game with just three third-down attempts shorter than four yards, converting two.
Points from Turnovers: TCU — 3, Texas — 0
In an offensive conference like the Big 12, you have to capitalize on every opportunity given.
TCU did that, while Texas did not.
After Texas held TCU to a field goal rather than a touchdown on a red-zone trip, Ehlinger threw his lone pick of the game, which TCU turned into yet another three points. Conversely, when Joseph Ossai managed a strip sack, the offense rewarded that performance with a three and out.
For most of the game, the offense could not manage to capitalize on defensive stops, which really was the difference in the game for the Longhorns.
Not only did Texas punt after TCU’s only turnover, but Texas managed to come away empty after two of the three red-zone field goals the defense managed to force. Exchanging seven points for three is critical in any game and the offense was unable to capitalize on those opportunities either.
So now, the Longhorns enter the Red River game with the Oklahoma Sooners in what is a must-win game for both teams. With a loss, the Sooners would, for all intents and purposes, be eliminated from the Big 12 title game, while Texas allowing a limping OU team to pull even would likely cause more plates to wobble in Austin.