Just four weeks ago, it seemed like the Texas Longhorns were turning the page to a new era, but after three consecutive second-half meltdowns, it seems like there are more questions than answers once again.
Texas hired one of the top offensive minds in the country to take over the program and move it into a new direction, but the offense has not gotten the job done late in games leading to a set of embarrassing losses. This time it was to the Baylor Bears, who are seemingly on the desired upward trajectory that has eluded the Longhorns for more than a decade.
How did it happen yet again for Texas?
Points per drive: 2.0
Once again, the Texas offense sputtered in the second half, putting unnecessary pressure on the defense to hold when they were unable to move the football. However, the cracks started forming earlier in the game.
Per usual, Texas traded scores early in the game and built a lead thanks to swapping a touchdown for a field goal, but when the defense came up with four consecutive stops to end the first half the offense repaid them with a turnover on downs, a fumble, a punt, and an interception. When they came out and scored on the opening drive of the second half, it seemed fortunes had turned until Texas went back-to-back drives without putting up a single point and the wheels fell off.
Texas maintained a two points per drive clip for the entirety of the game, while Baylor turned in a 2.38 for the game, buoyed by a 4.2 points per drive pace in the second half - scoring on all but one meaningful drive of the second half.
Third Downs: 3-14 (28.6 percent)
A big part of the struggles against Baylor was the inability to stay on the field offensively, especially in the second half. It seemed as if the Longhorns existed behind the chains all day, with an average of 7.2 yards to go on third downs. That number is dragged down by a 3rd and 20 in the first half, but the Longhorns had six attempts between five and eight yards, converting on just one of them. Exacerbating the problem, even when Texas did find success, wide receiver Joshua Moore fumbled a ball and then allowed a pass to go through his hands that was intercepted instead of converting. Even the normal money play — give the ball to Bijan Robinson — wasn’t there for Texas, failing to convert on all six of his third-down carries.
After looking like a strength early in the season, the bottom has fallen out for Texas on third downs in the last three games. The Longhorns have seen a steady decrease on the money down over the last four games and turned in their worst performance of the season. This is the fourth time this season the Longhorns managed just four third-down conversions, unsurprisingly coming in all four losses. In the four losses, Texas is 15-62 (24.19 percent) compared to 33-54 (61.11 percent) in wins this year.
Bijan Robinson: 17 carries, 43 yards, TD
Speaking of Bijan Robinson, you could see on Saturday that Dave Aranda and the Bears came to the game with the game plan to stop Robinson and to force Texas to beat them another way. After setting career highs this year, Robinson also reestablished his career lows in yards per carry as well as his lowest rushing total in games with more than 10 carries. The usual excellence and playmaking were definitely not on display against Baylor, rushing five times on third downs and gaining just 10 yards, failing to convert a single one of them.
The focus on stopping the run forced Texas away from the ground game, setting up Baylor in position to tee off on the pass.
This was the lowest usage game of the year for Bijan Robinson, with a 25 percent offensive usage rate and just two percent in the pass game. This also marked his lowest number of carries in conference play and was just narrowly edged out by his 13 carries against Rice, a game that featured all five scholarship running backs in garbage time. Texas as a team rushed the ball just 29 times, the second-lowest total of the year, and gained just 102 yards on the ground.