Boys and girls, the No. 3 Texas Longhorns have played five games, and in each one they have come out on the winning end. Saturday’s matchup against the No. 24 Kansas Jayhawks at home was a game that was circled on the calendar and not just because it was a potential trap game the week before the Cotton Bowl, but because this Kansas team would provide a true litmus test for this Texas team for conference play.
Now to be fair, there was a big curveball right before kickoff when it was reported that Kansas starting quarterback Jalon Daniels would not suit up due to him re-aggravating a back injury. But that did not change the fact that Kansas still has one of the best offensive skill groups in the conference this year and Jason Bean has been solid when called upon as a backup for the Jayhawks.
There was some anxiety early in this one, but as the game wore on Texas really imposed their will on Kansas in more ways than one and pulled away. This game could have looked a lot worse on the scoreboard than the 40-14 final score it ended with. I am going to unpack that a bit below.
Let’s get into my observations from Saturday’s win over the Kansas.
Texas ran the damn ball
I was screaming it from the rafters during the Wyoming game and Steve Sarkisian finally heard me.
A dominant run game can be absolutely demoralizing to an opponent’s psyche over the course of a 60-minute football game. It was evident early that Texas was going to be able to establish the run and I was thrilled to see Sark really lean into and brutalize the Jayhawks defense. Jonathon Brooks once again showed why he is RB1 in this Texas offense as he set the tone early and ripped off some big runs on his way to a career day.
Huge game so far for Texas RB Jonathon Brooks. A riser and personal favorite in 2021, Brooks rushed for 3,530 yards and 62 TD as a senior, finishing No. 114 overall for @On3Recruits https://t.co/i0wfqxgp9w pic.twitter.com/z4BGMD4H0H— Charles Power (@CharlesPower) September 30, 2023
Brooks finished the day with 218 rushing yards on 21 carries, which is good for 10.4 yards per carry. He absolutely bludgeoned the Kansas defensive front and made sure they wouldn’t know peace in DKR. The Texas offensive line deserves a big hat tip here as well, as they were consistently resetting the line of scrimmage in the run game and opening up run lanes for Brooks all afternoon.
Brooks has been on an absolute roll since taking over the RB1 role late against Alabama. Here are some stats for those who were (understandably) worried about losing Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson to the NFL.
Bijan Robinson through the first 5 games— Nash (@NashTalksTexas) October 1, 2023
Rush- 88 Attempts, 515 yards, 5.85/att, 8 TD
Rec- 10 rec, 188 yards, 1 TD
Jonathon Brooks through the first 5 games
Rush- 86 Attempts, 597 yards, 6.94/att, 5 TD
Rec- 5 rec, 87 yards, 1 TD
As long as Brooks stays healthy, I think Sark is going to have yet another 1,0000-yard running back in 2023.
The Texas offense totaled 336 rushing yards on the Jayhawks on Saturday and averaged 6.6 yards per carry. This was an absolute CLINIC and I couldn’t love it more.
The offense struggled to finish drives... but..
Everyone knows I keep it a stack when it comes to my observations. The Texas offense was maddeningly frustrating in this game when it came to finishing off drives in the form of points. There was a span of four drives where despite driving and putting themselves in position to convert scoring opportunities the Longhorn offense went: missed field goal, interception, touchdown, missed field goal. Despite mixing a touchdown drive in there, the game was still tight at the time and that was certainly an uncomfortable feeling considering that the defense allow a 50-plus yard touchdown pass go over their heads during this sequence. You simply can’t afford to provide good teams additional opportunities to beat you and stay in the game.
Despite those missed opportunities and leaving points on the field several times today, the Texas offense still put 40 points on the scoreboard and rolled up 661 yards of total offense on the Jayhawks.
Texas finished with 661 yards today against Kansas, the most in a Big 12 game in school history.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 30, 2023
The previous-high was 658 yards vs Patrick Mahomes & Texas Tech in 2016. pic.twitter.com/SIx9E9OmUR
We can absolutely acknowledge that Texas didn’t play their most efficient offensive game. We can definitely acknowledge that they need to do a better job of finishing drives. But we also acknowledge that they put up some crooked numbers despite those struggles today.
The Longhorn offense had a 300-yard passer (Quinn Ewers, 325 yards), a 200-yard rusher (Jonathon Brooks, 218 yards), and a 100-yard receiver (Adonai Mitchell, 141 yards). That is some silly offensive football when take into account that tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders left the game early with an injury and didn’t return.
Quinn Ewers has taken the leap this year as a passer and playmaker. He ran for a 29 yard TD last week, and this week he goes for 30! pic.twitter.com/4Atgm8Wghn— Ian Valentino (@NFLDraftStudy) September 30, 2023
One other thing. Texas didn’t punt once today. Ryan Sanborn was given the day off. That’s what kind of day is was offensively.
Bert Auburn had a tough day
We don’t have to spend a lot of time here. Auburn was perfect on PATs, but 2-of-4 from Sideshow Bert is not going to get it done in crunch time down the road. It’s one thing if the operation influences his results, but the snaps and holds looked fine on Saturday. These misses didn’t hurt Texas this time around, but he will have to be better moving forward.
The Texas defense wasn’t perfect... but...
Outside of a fluke fumble that ended up in the hands of a Kansas running back in stride and the coverage bust mentioned previously, the Jayhawks offense was absolutely smothered by the Longhorns defense. When I say smothered I mean smothered like your momma’s biscuits in creamy sausage gravy.
I still hold the Kansas offense in high regard, but aside from the bust and a few triple-option looks they absolutely got stuffed in a locker today in Austin. The Jayhawks mustered only 260 yards of total offense and only covered 11 first downs. Jason Bean finished the day 9-of-21 passing for 136 yards and one touchdown and 58 yards of that total came from the one play to Trevor Wilson early in the second half. The Jayhawks run game that consists of a solid 1-2 punch in Devin Neal and Daniel Hishaw Jr. was held under 100 yards rushing when you remove Bean’s rushing yards. Once the Texas offense got going it became a lot harder for them to lean on Neal and Hishaw Jr.
Remember how Texas really struggled on money downs last year? Kansas didn’t convert a single third-down attempt on Saturday. They were 0-for-10, which included two fourth-down attempts. Pete Kwiatkowski’s defense is playing at a high level right now and they will have another big test in front of them come next Saturday in Dallas.
This team plays hard for 60 minutes
My favorite thing about this team is watching how hard they play from the opening kick to when triple zeroes hit the clock. Garbage time doesn’t seem to exist to these guys. Even when the game is in hand you still see guys flying down on special teams delivering big hits. You see defenders relentlessly getting after the quarterback. You still see offensive linemen getting after defenders and backs dropping their pads and running hard. THAT right there is huge difference from years past and that is a big sign of where the culture is at under Sarkisian and his staff.
Go back and watch how hard the defense was working to keep Baylor out of the end zone last week. Go back and watch the defense on Saturday watch how hard they were working to keep Kansas from putting together a scoring drive at the end of the game despite the win being well in hand. The give a damn and pride has been well furnished with this team and it is noticeable. I don’t know how far this team is going to go, but they have certainly shown they are tough and they are going to fight you from bell to bell.
Y’all know the rules — 24-hour rule is officially in effect. Then it’s time to strap it up for HATE WEEK! The Cotton Bowl and that team north of the Red River is up next!
It’s 11:28 a.m....