That was certainly one of the more eventful games Texas has experienced throughout the Tom Herman, but after all the madness, the Longhorns somehow escaped Lubbock with an improbable 63-56 overtime win over Texas Tech.
Here are a few initial takeaways (to be updated).
A win is a win. That certainly wasn’t an encouraging effort to watch if you have high hopes for Texas this season, but on a day in which No. 3 Oklahoma and No. 6 LSU each lost, a win is good enough. It would be an understatement to say Texas has a few things it can learn from this game tape going forward, but as far as the Longhorns are concerned, 2-0 atop the Big 12 is much better than 1-1 with a loss in their Big 12 opener.
Joshua Moore appears to be Sam Ehlinger’s new go-to target. After hauling in a team-best six receptions for 127 yards against UTEP, Joshua Moore remained Sam Ehlinger’s favorite target in Texas’ overtime win over Texas Tech. Once again, Moore led the team with five receptions for 73 yards and three scores, but far more notable is the timing of Moore’s most impactful touchdowns. Moore skied for a remarkable go-get-it touchdown pitch and catch late in the first quarter to push Texas’ lead to double figures. But down the stretch when it was Texas playing from behind, Ehlinger looked Moore’s way for an 18-yard touchdown to set up the game-tying two-point conversion. Only moments later, Ehlinger found Moore once more, this time for a 12-yard touchdown to take control in overtime with what eventually became the game-winning touchdown catch. Devin Duvernay and Collin Johnson aren’t easily replaced, but at the least, Ehlinger is establishing an impactful early rhythm with Moore.
Texas’ special teams needs a ton of work going forward. The woes began early in the second quarter when Texas’ first punt attempt was nearly blocked — and certainly altered — netting just 17 yards. Following a quick, three-play scoring drive from Texas Tech, the Red Raiders attempted a risky onside kick attempt that paid off, as the Red Raiders offense immediately returned, albeit for just one play after a Chris Brown interception. Two Texas drives later, the punt actually was blocked, though once again, the Horns’ defense rose to the occasion with another interception just two plays later. The special teams struggled reared their ugly head soon thereafter in the third quarter, as Texas forced a three-and-out, but D’Shawn Jamison muffed the punt return and TTU recovered for a touchdown to trim the lead to 31-28. Interestingly enough for Texas, the Red Raiders next punt attempt produced points, too, only this time favoring the Horns as Tyler Owens blocked a punt and Jahdae Barron recovered for a touchdown. At best, the Texas special teams unit made this win much more difficult than it needed to be, especially early on when the Horns were still in control.
The Texas defense needs a few more lessons in tackling. By my in-game count, Chris Ash’s defense missed at least 29 tackles on Saturday afternoon. More notable than that less-than-spectacular effort itself as that many of those missed tackles proved costly. On TTU’s opening drive, the Longhorns missed six tackles as the Red Raiders marched 75 yards for a touchdown in just six plays. On TTU’s second touchdown strike, B.J. Foster whiffed on an open-field tackle, which paved the way for Erik Ezukanma to waltz into the end zone for a 16-yard score to pull back within three, 17-14. Fast forward to the end of the third quarter and missed tackle were costly yet again, as Texas’ defensive backs missed four tackles on a 3rd and 7 that ended with T.J. Vasher finishing a 29-yard touchdown catch and run to pull TTU within three again, 38-35. Then, on what initially appeared to be a game-ending play, SaRodorick Thompson eluded three tackles on the edge to break free for a 75-yard touchdown run to life Tech’s lead to 56-41 with 3:13 to play. Simply put, Texas can’t miss 29 (possibly more) tackles, especially in key moments that allow opponents to keep drives alive and score.