The No. 21 Texas Longhorns emerged victorious Saturday night in Austin, as they played host to the UTSA Roadrunners. Head coach Jeff Traylor’s squad made the short trip I-35 and they arrived at the stadium with an upset on their minds.
The Roadrunners entered the matchup at 1-1 after two closely contested matchups overtime matchups against Houston and Army and a more than a little bit banged up along their offensive line. Even with the injury concerns, the Roadrunners showed up ready and motivated to play and they gave the Longhorns all they could handle and them some in the first half of the ball game.
UTSA’s first drive of the game lasted for 20 plays and took up a large chunk of the first quarter. The Roadrunners ended up with a field goal to show for that drive, but they originally were lined up to go for it on 4th and goal before a procedure penalty backed them up. That field goal was the only points of the opening frame.
Things got a bit rocky in the the second quarter when UTSA followed up a touchdown scoring drive with a surprise onside kick that caught the Texas return team napping. Following the recovery Roadrunners dialed up some trickery with a double pass that found its mark in the end zone that put them up 17-7 in the blink of an eye.
Needless to say there was a bit of uneasiness setting in following that sequence and justifiably so. The Roadrunners had the Longhorns down two scores with their backup quarterback in the game and the Texas defense was struggling to get stops.
From then on the Longhorns went on a 34-3 run over the remainder of the game and despite the early struggles they ended up taking care of business and winning comfortably. It may have not been sexy early on, but you will absolutely take these kinds of winds considering what we have seen from the Longhorn program over the past several years.
With that said, let’s take a look at some my key takeaways from last night against the Roadrunners.
When adversity struck the Longhorns showed resilience
I’m going to start with this because I think it was my biggest takeaway from last night’s game. As I mentioned above, UTSA came out the gates focused and unafraid of the moment. They threw some heavy punches early that landed on the Longhorns and had them on their heels following the consecutive scoring drives with the surprise onside kick sandwiched in between.
UTSA JUST DROPPED A DOUBLE PASS TOUCHDOWN ON TEXAS. MEEP MEEP!!! pic.twitter.com/Dhs5HSJ3JM— uSTADIUM uNIVERSITY (@uSTADIUMCollege) September 18, 2022
In years past we have seen situations like this snowball on Texas teams and the game would get away from them. Last year’s Texas team particularly struggled with this and they had a 5-7 record to show for it.
The 2022 Longhorns have showed early on this season that they may have turned a corner when it comes to being resilient. Instead of curling up and going MIA the team bowed their necks and chipped away at the lead. They stayed composed and responded with a touchdown drive of their own followed up by a defensive stop and a Bert Auburn field goal just before the end of the half.
Things went from being not great to just fine in a matter of minutes and the game was all square. In my head I said Texas going into the half down a field goal would be considered a win with how the flow of the game was going, but they did even better than that. That ended up being crucial with the UTSA getting the ball coming out of the locker room.
Texas went into the locker room with their confidence restored and they were able to regroup for the second half that ended up going much better better than first. Seeing this kind of growth early in the season is very encouraging and we will see if that carries over to conference play next week.
The offensive line earned a game ball
Any time you keep your quarterback’s jersey clean for the game and pave the way for almost 300 yards rushing you have earned yourself some serious kudos. The Texas offensive line entered this matchup knowing they would have a hobbled quarterback under center in Hudson Card and even with those circumstances they rose to the challenge.
The Roadrunners defense tried to come after Card in various ways to see how that ankle of his was feeling and on a key 2nd and long in the fourth quarter he burned the UTSA defense by tucking and running for a big gain that ended up setting up running back Bijan Robinson for a soul-crushing touchdown run.
Here is that huge run by Hudson Card that helped lead to the touchdown.— Texas Sports 365 (@TexasSports365) September 18, 2022
Kyle Flood’s bunch continues to show signs of promise by not allowing any sacks and holding up well in pass protection when Steve Sarkisian would dial up shots down the field. Being able to the run the football like were last night certainly helped and you can’t do that without going out and executing your assignments collectively as a unit.
This offensive line entered the season down one of their leaders in Junior Angilau following an injury in camp, but thus far they have kept their composure and done a solid job regardless of who is under center.
Hudson Card managed the game
After getting banged up against Alabama and seeing that Card was dealing with a potential high ankle sprain I fully expected to see Charles Wright last night. Instead Card was announced as the starter and I was pleasantly surprised with how he acquitted himself given he clearly wasn’t 100 percent.
It is no secret by now that the playbook is a bit different when Card is under center and even more clear that Sarkisian is not going to ask him to do some of the same things they will ask of Quinn Ewers. Instead they ask him to be more of a game manager and task him with making smart decisions and taking care of the football.
And that is exactly what Card did, as he served as a distributor of the football and kept the ball out of harm’s way throughout the contest. He got the ball to his playmakers in space and let them go to work and knowing the situation he didn’t take any unnecessary hits.
Card’s biggest play of the night wasn’t with his arm, but with his legs in the previously mentioned fourth quarter play where he was able to break containment and scamper for 32 yards before safely sliding down.
Card wasn’t perfect by any means, but he did enough and that’s all you can ask for when you are having to go to your backup quarterback in a pinch.
Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson carried the mail
With the passing game being a little vanilla this week, it goes without saying that the Texas run game needed to step up in a big way. The Longhorns have one of the best 1-2 punches in the country in Robinson and Johnson and they arrived to the yard ready to go to work against the UTSA defense.
The running back duo combined for 264 rushing yards last night along with three rushing touchdowns (all by Robinson). Johnson and Robinson also chipped in via the passing game with 42 receiving yards and an additional touchdown by Johnson.
It doesn’t get much better than that. The Longhorns have two future NFL players in their running back room and when all else fails they need to give defenses a heavy dose of them. That seemed to be the game plan last night and went really well for the offense.
The targeting call on DeMarvion Overshown was awful
This one will be pretty short and sweet. After seeing Overshown’s hit on Frank Harris several times over I am not sure what else you can expect a defender to do in that situation. Overshown executed a textbook tackle. He didn’t lead with the crown. He didn’t launch. I’m baffled on how else Overshown could have played that.
If he had actually lowered and lead with his helmet he probably would have done a lot more damage to Harris on that play. It’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation as a defender in that situation. And with how elusive Harris was all night I don’t know how you can ask anymore from a defender there.
It was a bad call in real time. Looks just as bad in hindsight. And now moving forward it puts Texas in a bind without one of their best linebackers for a half going into their conference opener.
Sarkisian said after the game they would appeal the call to the league office and I hope the right thing is done.
Fire away in the comments! How are you feeling about the team through three games?