In the most significant game of the Steve Sarkisian era, his Longhorns — specifically, the offense — failed the show up. And thus, the Texas Longhorns fell to the TCU Horned Frogs, 17-10, and likely played themselves out of conference title contention in the process.
Here are a few initial thoughts from Texas’ latest loss.
This loss is entirely on Sark. You can say “he isn’t the one dropping passes or overthrowing passes or struggling to block” or whatever, but that’s his unit. Sark is responsible for the offense and more and more often, it’s been completely inept. This time around, when Pete Kwiatkowski’s defense gave Texas every bit of a chance to take complete control of it’s destiny in the conference by overwhelming the No. 4 team throughout the better part of three quarters, Sark’s offense pissed the opportunity away, putting together one of the hardest-to-watch performances I can recall. In fact, Pete K’s defense outscored Sark’s offense, 7-3. So now, in yet another example of Sark’s offense going missing — Texas hasn’t scored a second-half touchdown in three games — his team’s ceiling is probably a Texas bowl.
Texas defense more than did its part to win. The offensive struggles from Sark and co. will headline this loss, but Coach K’s defense played at a championship level in a game that had those kind of stakes on the line. Aside from one busted coverage against the that proved to be costly (sound familiar?), the Longhorns defense was mostly dominant. 14 tackles for loss, five sacks, and a scoop-and-score touchdown paint the kind of picture of how that group played tonight. Between this and the Alabama game, that’s two losses in which the Texas defense played at an elite level and it didn’t matter.
Jahdae Barron coming out party? If you want another bright spot, the junior defense was a huge presence for a Texas defense that played well enough to win. Starting in place of the injured D’Shawn Jamison, Barron was all over the field, especially in run coverage, totaling 11 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss, and his scoop-and-score kept Texas in the game late.
Is it time for Sark to bench Quinn Ewers? I don’t have the answer, but he’s been pretty poor since the OU game — a stretch that now spans a third of the season. Aside from his 49% completion percentage (71-145) over the past four games with four interceptions to his seven scores, Ewers is routinely missing wide open receivers and making the wrong reads, and his just doesn’t seem like a young player playing with any sort of confidence at all. Think of it like this — if his name wasn’t Quinn Ewers, would it be time for a change before Texas one-dimensional offense completely spirals down the stretch?
I’m curious about how much fight we’ll see from Texas the next two games. Two losses in three games and you’ve almost certainly just played yourself out of the conference title conversation? There isn’t too much left to play for in the grand scheme of things aside from a better bowl, and again, the Texas Bowl might be the peak there. Sark has talked all offseason and throughout the season about the culture change, and now that the games will mean a little less, we’ll see that statement get tested.