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Texas vs. Wyoming: Five observations and Sunday chat

Longhorns start slow, but finish strong with a win over the Cowboys.

Wyoming v Texas Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images


That is what the No. 4 Texas Longhorns are now after they cobbled together a win over the Wyoming Cowboys on Saturday night in Austin at Darrel K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. It’s the first time since 2012 that Texas has started the season 3-0, a stat that absolutely blew my mind, but just goes to show you how things have been for the program over the past decade.

This was the quintessential trap game for the Longhorns coming off the win in Tuscaloosa a week ago. I said last Sunday that the 24-hour rule needed to be in effect, because after that the focus needed to be all about Wyoming. Hangovers from games like that are real and if your team doesn’t get their minds right they can mess around and play poorly against an inferior opponent.

Early on in the game it felt like we were heading towards a massive letdown in Austin, but to Steve Sarkisian and his team’s credit they pulled themselves together and still ended up winning by a comfortable margin. Just like last week, they showed some good things in their tilt against the Cowboys, but they also gave themselves plenty of things to work on before they make the short trip to Waco in a week.

Let’s dive into these observation.

Sluggish start across the board

The hangover effect was real in the first half. Not just the players, either — the hangover felt real for the guys on the headsets as well. The start to the game couldn’t be anymore ominous after the Cowboys opened the game with a five-play scoring drive that was capped off by a 62-yard touchdown run by Northern Illinois transfer Harrison Waylee. That result occurred because of a breakdown at every level of the defense and you could feel the uneasiness immediately after. Waylee was the best player for Wyoming in the matchup and the Texas defense had a hard time slowing him down for a portion of the game as the Cowboys were content to lean on running inside zone and letting him find the creases.

To make matters worse, right after that opening scoring drive the Texas offense came out and was immediately flagged for a false start before going three and out on three straight pass plays that all fell incomplete. The vibes were less than immaculate.

The Longhorns eventually pulled themselves together in the long run, but it was definitely an unsettling start for the team as a whole. The competition only gets harder from here moving into conference play, so hopefully they got it out of their system against the Cowboys.

Quinn Ewers was inconsistent and inefficient

After looking like a Heisman contender last week in Tuscaloosa, Ewers looked more like his freshman year self from last year when he would be frustratingly inconsistent and have very spotty accuracy. Ewers ended the night 11-of-21 passing for 131 yards and two touchdowns, which is a less than stellar stat line given the opponent on the other sideline. Ewers did have some nice moments sprinkled in during the ball game. He made some really nice throws during the 90-yard drive in the first half and then executed some nice tosses on money downs on the first drive out of the half. But he also had a bad miss on a pass to Xavier Worthy where he had a clean pocket and he just flat out overthrew him and missed a chance to move the chains.

On top of that, the receivers had a few times where they were hit in the hands by passes and simply dropped them. You could tell early on that things were a bit off with Ewers and that there was going to need to be a meeting of the minds between him and the offensive braintrust. The 2023 version of the Longhorns were able to win the game in spite of Ewers not having his best stuff. I’m not sure this same team last year could have done that. He will have to be better than he was tonight as they move into conference play.

Jahdae Barron earned himself a game ball

It feels like this dude makes an impact play of some kind every week. Barron’s route to ending up at Texas wasn’t a straight one (he originally signed with Baylor and then requested out of his NLI), but man am I glad he is a part of this defense. He plays a mentally-taxing position at nickel and he absolutely changes the calculus for offenses due to his ability blow up screens and make tackles in space. On Saturday, Barron led the team in tackles with nine and also notched a PBU on the night. He flashed multiple times on third down throughout the ball game, but his biggest play came where he blew up a 3rd and 3 on the perimeter that forced the Cowboys to punt following Worthy’s touchdown catch early in the fourth quarter.

He’s made himself a lot of money over the past year and change and as long as he stays healthy, he is going to continue to be an impact player for Texas this year.

RTDB: Run The Damn Ball

I need to get this on a t-shirt. I felt from the jump that Sarkisian was a tad bit too pass-happy in his game plan and when it was obvious Ewers was not in sync I was preaching that Texas needed to lean on Jonathon Brooks and the run game. When you are Texas and they are Wyoming, you can’t be afraid to tighten the chinstrap and go put a hat on a hat. Texas experienced their best results of the night when they committed to the run game and ran a more balanced attack at Wyoming. They did it in conventional ways and they also even showed an unconventional look when they lined Savion Red up in the Wildcat to convert two fourth-down attempts. I don’t care how you draw it up, but I need them to make sure they are not getting too far from it when the matchup favors you in the trenches like they did tonight. Once Brooks got his tires warmed up he started wearing the Cowboys out on the ground.

No need to get cute with it. Sometimes you just need to let your best back get north and south and go right at the defense. Sark tried to get cute at one point by trying to dial up a reverse on third and short. Wasn’t a fan at all. You don’t get cute with calls like that when you are Texas and they are Wyoming. Tell your guys up front and your back that they’re better than them and let them go get that one yard.

Texas ended the night with 185 yards on the ground. They would have cleared 200 with ease had they leaned into it a little earlier in the game.

Found a way to win

Was it the prettiest win you will see from Texas this year? Nope. Was it a win and a multi-touchdown win at that? YEP. I already know people are going to have their concerns and are going to be upset with how the flow of this game went and I get it because Wyoming. But I want to keep things in perspective. Texas didn’t play their best game. But instead of hanging their heads and letting things snowball on they tightened their chinstraps and threw haymakers back at Wyoming until they put them on the deck in the second half.

The Cowboys are a tough and resilient team. They were content to try to ugly this game up as much as possible. Look no further than them squeezing 10-plus minutes off the clock just to kick a field goal in the third quarter. It was a huge contrast in styles in this one and despite sleepwalking a bit in this one, this team flipped the script on the Cowboys late by running off 21 unanswered in the fourth quarter that included a pick six by Jerrin Thompson.

Finding ways to win is the sign of a good, mature football team. I’m sure the players and coaches alike will tell you they didn’t play their best game on Saturday. But what they did do is bow up and making winning football plays when it mattered most. That counts for something and that is something to build upon moving into conference play.

After that early score in the first quarter, Texas made Wyoming earn EVERYTHING they got. And what they got was less than 300 yards of total offense on the night and only an additional three points.




3-0 entering conference play. 24-hour rule is once again in effect. Then it’s on to Baylor.