clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

No. 11 Texas 34, No. 3 Alabama 24: Five observations and Sunday chat

The Longhorns walked out of Tuscaloosa with a huge win over Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide.

Syndication: Austin American-Statesman Aaron E. Martinez/American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK

I’m not going to say Texas is back, because there is still a lot of season left to be played and goals left unmet. But I can tell you one thing... the No. 11 Texas Longhorns put the college football world on its ear last night in Tuscaloosa, as they knocked off the No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide, 34-24.

After coming ever so close to taking the win in the same matchup in 2022 in Austin, the Longhorns left no doubt this time around by handing Nick Saban a double-digit loss in the house that he and Bear Bryant collectively built. It is literally impossible to overstate how big this win is for Steve Sarkisian and the Longhorn program. This is the kind of win that can completely alter the trajectory of where things are heading.

Sarkisian added his name to a very short list of former Saban assistant coaches who have been successful in beating their old boss — there are now three with Sarkisian joining Jimbo Fisher and Kirby Smart. On top of that, Sarkisian has the Longhorns primed to vault up the rankings and be right in the thick of the playoff discussion early on in this season. Obviously you can’t get ahead of yourself with so much season left to be played, but Texas stock is about to be red hot come Monday.

I’ve got a lot of kudos to give out after this one, so lets get into my observations and takeaways from the big upset victory.

Texas was better in the trenches on both sides of the football

Yeah, I am starting right here because I’m still not fully comprehending what I witnessed on the field. Year in and out Alabama has held a definitive advantage along the line of scrimmage against almost every opponent they have shared a field with. There have been rare exceptions (Georgia is the standard these days), but more times than none they have had better Jimmies and Joes in that department.

Let’s start on offense. The Texas offensive line put on an absolute pass protection CLINIC on Saturday night in Tuscaloosa. I saw Saban and his defensive staff dial up a variety of pressures and looks and every time Kyle Flood’s bunch had it blocked up and gave Quinn Ewers time to work. Ewers dropped back 38 times on the night and he wasn’t sacked one time. He consistently had clean pockets and it was clear that played into his confidence levels as the night wore on. The Texas offensive line wasn’t nearly as good in the run game as they were in pass protection, but when the game was put on their shoulders to put the game away they did exactly that and finished off the Alabama defense. After the very uneven performance against Rice, the Texas offensive line earned themselves a game ball with how they performed Saturday. Oh ,and on top of not allowing any sacks on the night, the Crimson Tide defense was only credited with two tackles for a loss over the course of the entire game.

Let’s wander over to the defensive side of things. The Texas defensive line absolutely held up their end of the bargain against a massive Alabama offensive line. I saw T’Vondre Sweat and Byron Murphy clogging up run lanes all night long and when it got down to having to get after the quarterback that succeeded at that, too. The Longhorns registered five sacks and nine tackles for a loss on the night and several of those sacks came via young guys like Ethan Burke and Anthony Hill Jr. They were consistently taking the fight to Alabama’s offensive line and they didn’t back down despite Alabama trying to impose its will in the run game over the course of the night.

This was an eye-opening result for me and seeing Texas play that well along the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball is huge in so many ways.

Quinn Ewers had himself a coming out party in Tuscaloosa

That was the moment right there where Ewers let everyone know he was locked in and ready to go — it might have been the best deep ball we’ve seen from Ewers so far at Texas. We’ve seen those shot plays dialed up by Sarkisian time and time again for them to fall incomplete. That wasn’t the case on Saturday. Not only did Ewers connect on that deep shot to Worthy early, he also came back and hit Adonai Mitchell on a deep shot in the fourth quarter that put Texas up 10 points.

Ewers was confident. Ewers was calm. Ewers finished the night 24-of-38 passing for 349 yards with three touchdowns. He didn’t turn the ball over and he commanding the Longhorn offense to several crucial scoring drives throughout the contest. He’s QB1. I saw folks on Twitter saying they didn’t know Ewers had this in him. Well, I got news for you.

We got to see a glimpse of this in the Alabama game last year. This year we got treated to an entire four quarters and Ewers didn’t disappoint. Ewers has always had this type of ability. Now we are seeing it manifest itself on the field.

So to all of those folks who were trying to drive traffic and engagement by bringing up Arch Manning this summer and coming into the season... that talk is dead. Find something new to speculate about.

Texas won the turnover battle

One of the key matchups I came into this game watching was Alabama’s Jalen Milroe against the Texas defensive secondary. After seeing a little bit of Milroe last year and how raw he was as a passer I knew if he won the job out of camp that Texas would have a chance to truly test how far he came as a passer over the offseason. The Longhorn secondary is loaded with talented and experienced defensive backs and I had a feeling that defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski would be able to dial up some looks that would confuse the eyes of the young quarterback.

Jahdae Barron was able to bait him early.

Then at the beginning of the fourth quarter, Jerrin Thompson picked Milroe off right after Thompson was beat deep for a touchdown.

Milroe was fortunate to not have a third interception, as Jaylan Ford had one bounce off his hands in the end zone on a touchdown that was taken off the board due to an illegal man down field.

Texas didn’t do a good job of turning the ball over in 2022, but through two games they have already forced five with four of them being interceptions.

Texas unleashed Anthony Hill Jr.

This is going to be a tough section for the Texas A&M crowd.

After barely seeing Hill against Rice, everyone knew that Texas was waiting for this matchup to show off their new five-star defender. The wait was worth it. Hill made his presence felt down the home stretch of the ball game, as he was able to wrangle Milroe not once, but twice (ESPN has him with two sacks instead of 1.5) along with two additional TFLs.

There has been a lot of buzz this offseason that Hill has been force in practice and that we would likely see him early and often. Needless to say he didn’t disappoint once he was able to get his feet wet a bit. He’s still a young pup who will have some bumps along the way, but the talent he has is clear and he is going to be a menace as he continues to get more comfortable.

On top of being used in pressure packages, Hill was tasked with being a spy in some situations and he was able to run down Milroe when he tried to flee the pocket. I can’t wait to see more of him this season.

Texas found a way to win in a place that doesn’t concede many wins to visitors

This last section is dedicated to the entire team and staff because I think it needs to be put into perspective. Winning games in Tuscaloosa is incredibly hard. The Texas win in Tuscaloosa snapped a 21-game home win streak for Alabama. And on top of that, this was Alabama’s first double-digit home loss since 2004. That is not a typo. The 34-24 Texas win in Bryant-Denny Stadium was the first double-digit home loss Alabama has suffered in almost 20 years.

I was a sophomore in high school in 2004. A lot of football has been played since then. That stat absolutely blows my mind and it tells you how well Alabama has played at home over the years. That is an incredible accomplishment for this Texas football team and everyone from the players to the staff deserves a boat load of kudos and then some for the performance on Saturday.

This was massive win for Texas in more ways than one. But just like any other victory there is a 24-hour rule in effect. Enjoy this one. But come Monday it’s on to Wyoming. Texas is 2-0 and there is still plenty of football left to be played. All of the goals this team wants to achieve are out in front of them. Time to find out how they handle success.