Welp, not many saw Texas hanging with Alabama last Saturday, especially if you told them Quinn Ewers would get injured in the 1st Quarter and Hudson Card would have to play on an ankle injury. Nevertheless, the Horns only lost by a point. It’s been almost a week since the loss, are you still encouraged by the outcome? Or more frustrated Sark and Co. couldn’t pull off the upset?
Cameron Parker (@camerondparker) - Texas nearly won despite losing Quinn Ewers to a game-ending injury in the 1st quarter and playing Hudson Card on one leg. If you’re told that before the game, how are you not betting on Alabama to cover? The culture has changed and the loss has pumped new life into the program and the fanbase. I went from thinking this is a 7 or 8-win team at best to looking at tickets for the Big 12 Championship.
Gerald Goodridge (@ghgoodridge) - I don’t really think there are moral victories at the University of Texas. While there are definitely positives to build on after the Alabama game, there is nothing that can soothe the frustration of leaving at least five points on the board against Alabama. Coupled with the fact that Quinn Ewers was averaging more than 11 yards per dropback when he was injured, and in spite of losing that production, Texas forced Alabama to drive the field and kick a walk-off to win. Can you take positives from this game? Absolutely, but it’s impossible for me not to see the breaks in the game that would have made it the Bloodiest Saturday in recent memory.
Daniel Seahorn (@DanielSeahorn) - I had Texas losing by double digits, so I’m absolutely encouraged by the grit and tenacity the Longhorns displayed on Saturday afternoon. That’s a team that looked like they are ready to put a disappointing 2021 season in the rearview and take the next step. The biggest bummer for me is the injury situation coming out of the game because that could become an issue for the team as soon as this Saturday.
Cody Daniel (@CodyDanielSBN) - Definitely still encouraged. The offensive woes after the injury to Ewers was understandable, but them continuing to fight was notable. But the defense looked absolutely elite in many aspects and performed way better than I could have expected. Ewers’ timetable impacts things, but my expectations for this team just went up.
Wescott Eberts (SBN_Wescott) - Both. The loss was made more frustrating by the missed opportunities for Texas and especially the missed calls by the officials, which probably would have swung the outcome had they made the clear and obvious calls. But it was also encouraging that the Longhorns could outplay the Crimson Tide for such long stretches with the starting quarterback out and the backup hobbled. If Ewers had stayed healthy and continued playing like he did in the first quarter, Texas probably wins that game by 10 points or more.
A lot of different positional units, players, and coaches were impressive against Alabama. What impressed you the most?
Cameron - I’ll zag from everyone else and say Special Teams. If you told me Bert Auburn would have a chance to give Texas a late lead over Alabama in the 4th quarter, but it would be a 49-yard field goal, I’d say no chance. I was proven wrong. Not only did Auburn knock down some clutch kicks, but Texas also got a few huge punts from Danny Trejo.
Gerald - Not in my wildest dreams would I have imagined the Texas defensive line would not only hold up against Alabama but straight up beat them at the point of attack when it was crunch time. Half of Alabama’s ground production came on one run and outside of that run the Crimson Tide averaged 2.6 yards per carry against a run defense that has routinely been called soft in the end. If that unit, and the team as a whole, isn’t putting a flag in that fourth down as not just a turning point for the team, but the season and the program as a whole, they’re missing the plot.
Daniel - The trenches on both sides of the ball earned big kudos from me. Games are won and lost there and both sides of the ball playing winning football gave the team a chance to pull off the upset. Kelvin Banks and Christian Jones held up very well against guys like Will Anderson and Dallas Turner and the defensive line as a whole took the fight to the Alabama offensive line for four quarters. Aside from the big fellas, I would also recognize the Texas secondary who did a great job of limiting Bryce Young and company to just over 200 passing yards and doing a great job of tackling all afternoon when asked to make plays in space and in run support.
Cody - The defense as a whole was mostly phenomenal, especially in the trenches. After getting bullied there last year against Arkansas, they were the bullies against Bama of all teams. Sark and his staff certainly seem to be getting the Horns SEC ready.
Wescott - Ewers really came out on fire and made some outstanding throws – he looked more comfortable and had better timing than he did in the opener even though the level of competition was much higher. I thought that said a lot about his competitive greatness. The defensive line, especially the interior, was really outstanding controlling the line of scrimmage throughout almost the entire game. And while the offensive line struggled some in the run game, the pass protection was solid, which was hugely important and heartening moving forward.
Assuming Hudson Card can get back to 100% and we don’t see Quinn Ewers until at least the Cotton Bowl, have you seen enough from him in two games this season to have the confidence to keep Texas above water until Ewers returns?
Cameron - If he can be healthy, yes. Card nearly lifted Texas to win over Alabama on ONE ANKLE. My concern is not in his ability to keep Texas afloat, but his ability to stay healthy until Ewers come back.
Gerald - You will never hear me doubt Hudson Card ever again. That is one of the gutsiest performances I have seen this side of Byron Leftwich getting carried down the field. I think the offense has to adjust a bit based on what he does well, but seeing what the OL was able to do against Alabama I feel good. I still want the ball to come out of his hand a bit faster than it did in some spots against Alabama, but I don’t think Will Anderson and Dallas Turner are scheduled to come back this season.
Daniel - Card can absolutely steer the ship as long as that ankle gets healthy. The ceiling for the offense may not be as high as it is with Ewers, but if the defense can play at the level they did on Saturday the ceiling being capped becomes less problematic. You just need a steady hand who will take care of the football and will take advantage of the shots Steve Sarkisian gets drawn up.
Cody - Card 100% deserves respect for his toughness on Saturday, and in Ewers’ absence, that kind of performance should help the team rally around him. It might not be too exciting at times, but if healthy, I think Card can keep Texas rolling on into the Cotton Bowl.
Wescott - The toughness of Hudson Card certainly isn’t in question after that performance and the fact that he was banged up makes it difficult to gauge where he’s at in his development, but talented enough and experienced enough that he shouldn’t really be the difference in whether Texas wins or losses the next several games if he ends up as the starter.
Jeff Traylor returns to Austin with a solid UTSA team, led by QB Frank Harris and others who are ready to steal the show Saturday. Are you worried about a letdown performance from Texas?
Cameron - With previous coaching staff regimes I would be, but I think Sark will have the boys ready to play. Keondre Coburn’s comment earlier the week declaring UTSA as the “best team in the state” last year tells me they aren’t overlooking this game. Between the talent disparities and the injuries on the UTSA offensive line, I don’t expect a letdown game from Texas. Now, could the offense struggle if Hudson Card isn’t able to go? Yes, but that’s a different story than not being ready to play.
Gerald - There is definitely a chance at a letdown game, as well as a “body blow” situation from last week. Texas stood and went the distance with the champ and had to absorb a ton of hits to do so. How fresh are the legs going to be when the bell rings and you have to come out of the corner? Thankfully, the defense is the less banged-up unit and if Texas has to establish the run and give each running back on the depth charts, let’s get the 17-7 win and keep it moving.
Daniel - I wouldn’t say I’m worried about a letdown. I’m more worried about a competitive UTSA team catching a Longhorn team at the wrong time with injuries at very important spots. This will be a real test for the team as a whole to see how they are able to handle adversity.
Cody - Not a letdown in the sense of a loss, but Traylor is building a really solid program at UTSA and Texas will need to approach that game like it’s one they could lose. I’d expect it to be fairly competitive and one that Texas will need to execute throughout to pull away late.
Wescott - UTSA is a well-coached team with some really experienced players in addition to Harris, but they’re also really banged up at the tackle position and I just don’t get the sense that this Texas team is going to overlook UTSA.
Can Texas avoid the upset to UTSA on Saturday?
Cameron - Yes. Texas 34, UTSA 14
Gerald - I could see Texas maybe letting them hang a bit in the beginning, but when push comes to shove football is about Jimmys and Joes and Texas has a decided advantage there. Texas 35, UTSA 17
Daniel - I think Texas still holds the talent advantage so I do think they can hold off the upset, but I think this game will be close enough to make folks feel uncomfortable. Texas 31 UTSA 24
Cody - It will be a fun, competitive game, and with the help of a non-offensive TD, Texas wins 31-10.
Wescott - Absolutely. I think Texas wins this game comfortably, 31-17.