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Inside the Numbers: Bijan Robinson’s career day propels Texas

The Longhorns found ways to get their best player involved and it paid off.

NCAA Football: UL Lafayette at Texas Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 21 Texas Longhorns kicked off the Steve Sarkisian era in convincing fashion, with a 38-18 win over the No. 23 Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns. The game may have started slowly, but once the Longhorns took their first lead it felt like it was never in doubt.

Texas got it done by getting their best player involved early and often and by finding ways to get off of the field in critical moments.

Bijan Robinson: 20 car, 103 yards, TD. 4 rec. 73 yards, TD

Steve Sarkisian said ahead of the year that he would get Bijan Robinson involved in the offense and he lived up to that in the debut. Robinson didn’t hit the other-worldly numbers he put up to close the last season, but he set career highs for both carries and receptions en route to his 176 total yards in the contest. In fact, it’s the first time a Texas running back has totaled more than 20 carries since Roschon Johnson had 23 carries in the 2019 win over Texas Tech.

Robinson touched the ball on 24 of the offense’s 68 offensive snaps against Louisiana, accounting for 35.3 percent of the total offensive touches in the contest — another career high for the sophomore. A year ago he had just four games with 20 percent or more of the offense’s touches, his highest coming in the loss to the Iowa State Cyclones.

UL: third down conversions — 4/13 (30.76%), fourth down conversions — 3/3

The Ragin’ Cajuns struggled on third downs for most of the game, not converting one until nearly four minutes into the third quarter. Six of their 13 attempts were eight yards or longer, converting on just one of those at that distance — the 27-yard touchdown run by Chris Smith in the third quarter. Louisiana completed 3-of-5 pass attempts on third down, but just two of those went for first downs thanks to a great defensive play by D’Shawn Jamison to force a three and out.

Texas followed that stop with a 14-play, 72-yard drive to take a 14-3 lead.

Just four of the Ragin’ Cajun’s 10 drives ended with a positive result, three of those drives featuring one of the three fourth-down conversions, all of which were one-yard conversions.

Texas offense: Garbage-time adjusted 4.38 PPD

At times it may have felt like more of a slow burn than all gas, no breaks, but the first game of the Steve Sarkisian era showed promise of what could come in the future.

After scoring just twice in the first half, Texas scored on all but one of its drives in the second half, going three and out on its final drive of the game as they tried to kill the clock against the Ragin’ Cajuns.

Despite struggling to get it going early, especially on the ground, Texas managed to turn in a rather efficient scoring outing.

Their 4.38 adjusted points per drive would have been the fourth-best outing in the Tom Herman era, ranking behind the 2020 games against Kansas State and UTEP and 2019’s blowout out against Rice. In the previous four seasons, Texas managed to eclipse four points per drive on seven occasions, three of those seven coming in 2018.

Now Texas has a week to prepare for their old Southwest Conference rival, Arkansas, who came from behind before pouring on late against another SWC foe in Rice.