“Why does Rice play Texas?”
The Texas Longhorns overmatched the Rice Owls and cruised to a comfortable 48-13 victory on Saturday night. There was plenty of good, little bad, and an expected bounce-back performance on the offense during last night’s win.
This will be a weekly column throughout the season as I’ll categorize takeaways from each game into the good, bad, and expected for UT football standards.
Sam Ehlinger’s timing and precision through the air
Although he was facing an undermatched Rice secondary, Ehlinger looked the best he’s looked thus far and the numbers showed it — 23-for-27, 279 passing yards, and three touchdowns. Despite being without his usual top target Collin Johnson, Ehlinger was hitting receivers with passes in-stride and on-time all game long. His release was quick and he was throwing with a lot of velocity while being pin-point accurate with the football.
It should go without saying, but Ehlinger has quietly gotten off to a Heisman-caliber start through three games.
Given Rice’s style of play on offense, multiple different linebackers saw more action in the box than they normally would playing in a 3-3-5 defense. JUCO transfer Juwan Mitchell and redshirt freshman Ayodele Adeoye led the team in tackles with five. While going up against a ground-and-pound offense, Texas’ front seven did an excellent job of limiting anything on the ground — Rice averaged 2.8 yards per carry.
Controlling and dominating the game on both sides of the ball
For the second time this season and what feels like the second time under Tom Herman at Texas, the Longhorns imposed their will and dominated an inferior opponent for 60 minutes. Offensively, Texas was 10-for-15 on third and fourth downs. The defense forced Rice to punt eight times.
All in all, a near perfect first-half performance gave the coaching staff a valuable opportunity to play a lot of second-teamers and freshman in the second half. 18 different players touched the ball on offense.
K Cameron Dicker
Well, now we know why Herman nearly sent him out to attempt a 57-yarder against LSU last week. The kid has a leg. He may just have a future kicking in stadiums like NRG someday.
Dicker the Kicker a cool customer after drilling a 57-yard FG vs. Rice. pic.twitter.com/2fIV1uqrD8— Brian Davis (@BDavisAAS) September 15, 2019
Seeing RB Daniel Young back on the field
While the coaching staff mentioned the possibility of him playing throughout the week, it was a pleasant surprise seeing Young back on the field so early. He totaled 23 yards on six touches and looked to be at/near 100 percent out there. He holds a prominent role as a pass blocker and short-yardage back in this offense going forward.
Houston native D’Shawn Jamison
Jamison capped off the victory with a house call on a 97-yard kickoff return.
The sophomore had an all-around solid game beyond that return touchdown, too. He played well at cornerback and showed no fear in the open-field by making a few nice tackles, including one for a loss. Jamison made a strong case for an increase in playing time at cornerback next week, especially with Oklahoma State’s air-raid offense coming to town.
Rice scored its second TD of the game, then Texas’ D’Shawn Jamison did this pic.twitter.com/xx9D1CsWFk— Kaelen Jones (@kaelenjones) September 15, 2019
C Zach Shackelford and LB Joseph Ossai injuries
While we currently don’t know the severity of the injury, it’s worthy to note that Shackelford was dealing with a sprained foot not too long ago. Texas can only hope that it’s a minor sprain at this point.
Ossai banged up his shoulder and was unable to return to the game.
Losing the shutout, giving up a TD on the same play twice
Can’t imagine how badly defensive coordinator Todd Orlando probably wanted his defense to shut Rice out. At the end of the day, the two touchdowns that Texas gave up will definitely grind his gears. Especially since they were on the same play — a pass to their running back in the flat.
RB Keaontay Ingram bouncing back
While splitting carries with freshman Roschon Johnson on Saturday, the team’s lead-back recovered well against Rice. After last week’s touchdown drop, the coaching staff tested his hands right away on the opening play of the game — a quick pass to him in the flat.
Although he looked a bit hesitant on runs early on, Ingram got things going and looked back to himself for the majority of this game. He displayed his elusiveness and broke multiple tackles on his way to two touchdowns. Along with his scores, he rushed for 74 yards on 13 carries (5.7 YPC) and hauled in two receptions for 19 yards.
Overall, this turned out to be a nice bounce-back game for Ingram before going up against a quality Oklahoma State defensive line.