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Inside the Numbers: Texas found efficiency against an outmatched opponent

The Longhorns did what they should against a team with a talent deficiency in an effort to get right ahead of Big 12 play.

Rice v Texas Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Texas Longhorns aren’t in a position to show up to any game and think they can get by on talent alone. That said, the Longhorns managed to avoid a hangover after the loss to the Arkansas Razorbacks and played a game that showed off many of the cultural changes that Steve Sarkisian and his coaching staff hoped to make as they took over for Tom Herman.

Texas: 427 rushing yards, 10.4 YPC

It felt like the complete opposite of last week’s outing in so many ways, and especially as it pertains to the ground game. A week after putting up just 138 yards, the Longhorns managed one of the best rushing performances in school history.

The 427 total rushing yards is the highest total since November of 2011 when Texas rushed for 439 against the Texas Tech Red Raiders — a contest in which Joe Bergeron rushed for 191 and three scores. In the effort, Texas had three players with rushes longer than 62 yards — Bijan Robinson for 62 yards, Roschon Johnson for 72 and Keilan Robinson for 75 — all of which floated them to the best yards per carry total in school history. That record was set in the last contest in which Texas had two rushers go for more than 100 yards, the 2020 regular-season finale against Kansas State.

With his efforts, Bijan Robinson eclipsed 1,000 yards for his career, hitting that mark on just 138 carries, making him the fastest to hit the mark since Texas great Jamaal Charles. That means Texas now has two active running backs with more than 1,000 career rushing yards with Johnson sitting at 1,207 career rushing yards after last night’s performance.

Texas: 2 penalties, 12 yards

A week after a rather embarrassing display overall and a week ahead of conference play, it’s good to show that you’re making fewer mental mistakes and cleaning up the controllable. Texas’ two penalties for 12 yards is the lowest total since 2016 — a mark that Texas never managed under head coach Tom Herman.

Under Herman, the lowest penalty total was four penalties for 35 yards in the 2018 win over the TCU Horned Frogs. Repeated, correctable mistakes — even in wins — were a hallmark frustration in the previous regime. Texas averaged 7.6 penalties per game for 71 yards in the previous four seasons, something that continually cost Texas. If the Longhorns can continue to clean up the penalty numbers, it could spell success moving forward.

Texas 3rd Downs: 7-10 (70%)

Again in an effort to clean up the ills of last week’s debacle against Arkansas, the Longhorns had one of their most successful games on the money down in nearly a decade. The 70 percent conversion rate is not only almost 40 percent better than a week ago, it’s the highest mark since 2011 when they converted 10-of-14 third downs against New Mexico.

Texas did a great job of staying out of those losing third down attempts, keeping them on schedule and out of trouble. Texas averaged 7.6 yards per first down attempt, converting a first down on seven of their 29 first down attempts, which means that nearly one-quarter of their first down attempts moved the chains. Five of their 10 third down attempts came from four yards or shorter and just two came from a distance longer than nine yards.

On average, Texas had just 5.2 yards to go on their 10 third down attempts and gained an average of 13.4 yards per attempt.

It appears that Texas took full advantage of its last tuneup heading into conference play, putting up the largest margin of victory since the 2005 national championship team beat the Colorado Buffaloes 70-3 in the Big 12 championship game. Texas won’t have that big of a talent differential for the rest of the season, but hopefully a game to get your mind right heading into conference play will pay dividends as they head into the gauntlet of Big 12 play.