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Inside the numbers: Texas unable to capitalize on limited opportunities

The Longhorns offense didn’t get many opportunities to put the ball in the end zone against the Cowboys.

NCAA Football: Oklahoma State at Texas Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

For the second week in a row, the Texas Longhorns surrendered a lead in the second half and walk away with an embarrassing loss, this time at the hands of the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

The Texas offense was seemingly stifled at every opportunity and when they did manage to gain a bit of forward progress, the Cowboys seemed to snuff it out rather quickly. Their struggles on the offensive side of the ball culminated in just one yard of total offense in the fourth quarter and just 14 yards following the opening drive of the third quarter.

3rd down: 4-for-14 (28.6 percent)

Whether it was the Longhorns’ inability to get it done on the money down or the Cowboys’ ability to keep Texas in front of them, Steve Sarkisian’s offense was absolutely abysmal trying to convert. This marked the third time this year that Texas has converted fewer than five third downs, all three coming in losses with the Oklahoma State game marking the lowest conversion percentage of the year. Texas went three and out on four of the last six drives, followed by a turnover on downs and an interception to end the game, making a bad situation worse. Texas actually didn’t convert on a single third down in the second half after going 4-9 in the first half.

Normally when teams struggle to convert, it’s because they play much of the game behind the chains, and while Texas had some disastrous runs they only had three attempts longer than nine yards.

It seems as if Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles has Texas figured out on third downs as well. Since taking over the Cowboys’ defense in 2018, Texas is 19-for-55 (34.5 percent) on third downs, including going 6-for-29 in the last two seasons.

Bijan Robinson: 21 carries, 135 yards, 2 TDs

On the surface, it looks like another solid outing for Bijan Robinson. Coming into the game, he was averaging 131.5 yards per game and 6.3 yards per carry, but as the Longhorns needed to generate any sort of offense they were both unable to get him going and unwilling to feed their most-talented player.

Just nine of his 21 carries came in the second half and only four in the fourth quarter. Following a 38-yard rush to cap off the only successful drive of the second half, Robinson had just seven carries for 17 yards, nine of which came on the first play of the final drive. On that very same drive, Texas went away from Robinson with three consecutive pass plays that resulted in -2 yards and a turnover on downs.

Texas had seven opportunities to run the ball with two yards or fewer to gain and converted on just one of them, with eight of its 33 rushes in the game stopped for no gain or a loss. Texas rushed just three times on third down going for -5 yards and did not gain a single first down on the ground.

Red zone: 3-for-4, 17 points

When the Texas offense has been at its best this year, they have spent plenty of time putting pressure on opposing defenses and managing to punch the ball in from scoring position. Through seven games, Texas has just three games in which they reached the red zone fewer than five times — Arkansas, Oklahoma, and OSU. Of their four trips to the red zone against the Cowboys, they managed two touchdowns and a field goal, the lowest red zone output of the year.

Perhaps the biggest contributing factor for Texas was the sheer amount of field they faced on every drive, with an average starting field position at the OSU 24-yard line. Oklahoma State essentially eliminated the return ability for Texas, with just two returnable punts on six attempts, three of which landing inside the 20. The Texas offense ran just 21 of its 60 plays inside Oklahoma State territory and crossed the Cowboys’ 40-yard line on just five of their 15 drives.

The Longhorns now head into the bye week with more questions than answers, heading into two tough matchups on the other side, taking on Baylor and a surging Iowa State. The outcomes of these next two games will very likely determine the story of the opening year of the Steve Sarkisian era.