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Inside the Numbers: Texas unable to get the job done on the ground against Texas Tech

In spite of another solid performance from Bijan Robinson, Texas struggled to consistently run the ball.

NCAA Football: Texas at Texas Tech Austin American-Statesman-USA TODAY NETWORK

The Texas Longhorns went on the road to Lubbock and, like so many before them, left the town disappointed.

Texas fans and players had lofty expectations after two solid outings but came down to earth after the same old struggles emerged when they lined up against the Texas Tech Red Raiders. An inability to find success running between the tackles, an inability to get off the field, and a lack of complementary football once again doomed Texas to a second-half meltdown and another frustrating result.

Texas: 30 att, 149 yards (5.0 ypc), 2 TD

Texas Tech came into the game with a clear game plan for shutting down the Longhorns’ ground game and executed it well. The 149 rushing yards is actually the second-best performance of the year, ahead of the 134 yards in Week 1 against ULM and the 79 yards against Alabama. That being said, once again the average was floated by chunk rushes, rather than producing a consistent ground performance.

Ninety-four of their 149 yards came on four plays — three long runs by Bijan Robinson and a 22-yard scramble from Hudson Card. Outside of those four plays, Texas ran for 56 yards on 26 plays, averaging 2.15 yards per carry, a lower average than both NC State and Houston managed against Texas Tech. Texas was especially bad running the ball on first down, which put the offense behind the chains and in predictable situations on later downs. Of the 30 rushing attempts, 12 of them came on first down, totaling just 35 yards for an average of 2.9 yards per carry.

Total plays: Texas Tech 100, Texas 60

Perhaps the story of the game was Texas Tech’s ability to stay on the field, with Texas looking at a 40-play deficit in the loss. The differential was especially stark in the second half, with Texas Tech doubling up Texas in the third quarter 30 plays to 15 and 26 plays to 11 in the fourth quarter. That differential allowed Texas Tech to go for 143 and 133 yards, respectively, and outscore Texas 20-10 in the second half, ultimately winning the game.

Perhaps the most frustrating part about the trend was that Texas held Tech to 4-of-12 on third downs, but gave up four fourth-down conversions in that string. Even when Texas was able to come up with a stop and get off the field, the offense did nothing to reward their efforts — In the two drives following stops in the second half, Texas went for eight yards and negative one yards, respectively.

Conversely, Texas was abysmal on third downs in the game, going 3-of-9 on the money down and 2-of-4 in the second half. Perhaps most frustratingly for Texas fans, in spite of having not one, but two NFL-caliber running backs, Texas was 0-for-3 on third and shorts.

Bert Auburn: FG: 2-2 (40, 48), PAT: 4-4

Perhaps one of the only positives to come out of the trip to Lubbock is the solidification of Bert Auburn as a legitimate weapon for Texas and a solid replacement for Cameron Dicker.

The 48-yard field goal to send the game into overtime marked the seventh-consecutive make for Auburn, pushing through every kick since the first-half block against the Alabama Crimson Tide. For the fifth time this year, Auburn was good from longer than 40 yards, including makes of 48 and 49 yards.

Auburn has made a kick of 40 yards or longer in every game this year, becoming a dependable source of points for the Longhorns. You don’t want to settle for field goals, because as we’ve seen, field goals get you beat, but when push comes to shove, you can depend on the sophomore from Flower Mound to push it through.

Now, with the West Virginia Mountaineers coming to town, Texas has to find some answers within itself and its locker room to avoid letting one loss beat them twice. With a stated goal of reaching Arlington for the Big 12 Championship, this loss took a slim margin and made it even slimmer.