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The Good, Bad, and Expected from Texas’ 34-27 loss to Oklahoma

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Sam Ehlinger and Roschon Johnson played well despite less than ideal circumstances. The defense on the other hand, needs some help tackling, especially when talents like CeeDee Lamb are lined up on the opposite side.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 12 Texas v Oklahoma Photo by William Purnell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It remains to be seen if the Texas Longhorns can take that final step towards being elite. Saturday’s loss may have been a step back for this season, but not all is lost. Texas remains in control of their Big 12 championship destiny and will likely get another opportunity at Oklahoma if they can make it there.

In what was a very winnable game for the Longhorns, Oklahoma outplayed Texas in all three phases of the game en route to their 34-27 victory. Another rough first half start forced the Longhorns to chase points all game. Check out the Red River Showdown version of the good, bad, and expected.

The Good

Sam Ehlinger’s accuracy

The stats will show 26-for-38 passing, but Ehlinger was much more accurate than that. He placed several difficult throws in spots where his receivers could make a play, but unfortunately, the majority of those throws fell incomplete, including several drops.

While he failed to reach the end zone and took nine sacks, it’s safe to say that Ehlinger looked like the better passing quarterback on Saturday. He simply didn’t get enough help from the guys around him.

Roschon Johnson

Johnson provided the much-needed spark offensively with his 57-yard run and touchdown on the following play.

On a day when Texas had over 20 plays go for zero yards or less, you have to wonder why Johnson wasn’t involved more from the start. Each of Johnson’s eight carries netted positive yardage. Given Ingram’s lackluster play, Johnson needed to be the team’s lead running back for the majority of this game.

The Bad

Starting field position

Besides Cameron Dicker, Texas put forth a disastrous display on special teams. Devin Duvernay struggled in the return game. His decisions to return kickoffs instead of taking a touchback set the offense back several times before their drive even started. On top of that, Jamison also waved-off a punt that was downed inside the five-yard line.

Due to struggles in the return game, Oklahoma’s average drive started around their own 41-yard line, while Texas’ drives, on average, started inside their own 20-yard line. In fact, half of Texas’ offensive drives began inside their own 15-yard line.

Oklahoma dictated the flow of the game by dominating the field position battle. This forced Texas to grind out long drives and fight against the field all game long. Not exactly a recipe for success.

Offensive play-calling

As creative as he was the first five games, Tim Beck called a dud of a game against Oklahoma. The offense’s inability to gain yards on first and second down prevented them from developing any kind of rhythm. They were forced into way too many third-and-long situations.

Oklahoma’s new defensive coordinator Alex Grinch dialed up constant pressure on Ehlinger throughout the game. Along with the pressure, the Sooners defense really zoned in on bubble screens to the outside.

Several of Oklahoma’s nine sacks were a result from great coverage, which is telling because that means Texas’ receivers were stagnant and failed to create much space against the Sooners secondary. Besides the inside runs and bubble screens, Beck has to find more ways to get his playmakers the ball in space.

The best offense came on a back-shoulder fade route to Johnson and freshman Jake Smith was only targeted once.

Tackling

This has been an on-going problem for the Texas defense all season, especially in the secondary. Poor tackling angles led to big gains on the ground against Oklahoma’s run-option concepts. While Jalen Hurts did a great job of selling the reads, the Longhorn linebackers and defensive backs were caught flat-footed too many times against those stretch runs to the outside. That play seemed like an automatic 10 yards every time Oklahoma ran it.

Also, credit to Grinch. He really turned that Oklahoma defense around. They played way more physically than Texas up front and missed very few tackles in space. The difference between last year and this year’s Sooners defense is night and day.

Slow start

Just as it hurt the Longhorns against LSU, another slow offensive start prevented Texas from having a chance to win the game at the end. With the offense out of rhythm, Todd Orlando’s defense came up with multiple crucial stops to keep Texas within striking distance. But given all the energy and effort they exerted in that first half, the Texas defense was bound to wear down as the game went on. And that’s exactly what happened.

The Expected

Big 12 Refs

The Big 12 officials saved their weakest call to date for the conference’s biggest game of the season — a pregame unsportsmanlike penalty for every player on both sides. If any player committed an unsportsmanlike penalty during the game it would’ve led to an ejection.

Despite threatening both rival teams with the immediate ejection penalty, the crew never followed through with it during the game.

Classic move by Mike Defee’s crew to create unwarranted drama like that for a rivalry game.

Oklahoma WR CeeDee Lamb and LB Kenneth Murray

Murray was all over the place on defense and Lamb was bouncing off tackles after the catch like no tomorrow. Both No. 9’s were the best players on the field on Saturday.