Texas absolutely needed a win in hopes of ultimately ending their season on a high note, and they got that in a big way on Saturday, steamrolling Kansas, 55-14.
Here are a few initial thoughts from the Longhorns’ bounce-back win over the Jayhawks.
That was certainly the way to bounce back. After a potentially deflating loss last week that saw Texas lose control of its Big 12 destiny, it wouldn’t have been a surprise to see a bit of a hangover performance from the Horns on the road in the cold in a less-than-exciting environment. Instead, it was all Texas from the start, despite the absence of a passing game as the Longhorns cruised to a comfortable 41-0 lead before Kansas finally scored and Texas starting introducing backups. With a chance to close the regular season right on par with preseason expectations, this was the kind of showing that can help build the necessary confidence for the Horns to close strong.
Bijan Robinson. Special. I’m sure I’ve said that time and time again, but as his time as a Longhorn is likely dwindling to just one or two more games, you can’t do anything but appreciate the special talent No. 5 is for the Longhorns. 25 carries for career highs in yards and touchdowns with 243 and four, respectively. Today’s career-best effort now bring’s gives Robinson 1,401 yards and 16 rushing touchdowns as part of a sensational season. If we do only get to see Bijan in burnt orange one more time, he’s undoubtedly one of the best Longhorns to do it at running back, and games like his in Lawrence are a prime example of that.
I wonder how much confidence Sark has in Quinn Ewers right now. The emphasis in this one was going to be the great game, and that was only bolstered by Texas and specifically, Bijan Robinson’s success running the ball, but this seemed to be the most conservative play-calling we’ve seen from Sark for his freshman QB. Ewers attempted just 21 attempts, completing a pedestrian 12 of them for 102 yards and one touchdown, and almost all of his passes were in the short to intermediate range — off the top of my head, I can’t actually think of a single deep strike on Saturday. Given that we haven’t seen Ewers look the part since the OU game, I can’t help but wonder how much confidence Sark has in Ewers at this late stage in the season, and the play-calling might be reflecting that.
Pete Kwiatkowski’s defense continues to shine. Until the point when Texas started letting quite a few backups get some run, the Longhorns’ defense was pitching a shutout against a KU offense that’s scored 30-plus six times this season. And not to mention, PK’s unit is showing such substantial improvement despite having some holes at key positions — primarily at safety. I was pretty critical of PK’s defense in Year 1, and they’ve absolutely shut me up this season.
It’s time to close the season in a fashion Texas can be proud of and build upon. Likely finishing on the outside of the Big 12 title picture looking in isn’t the ideal finish Texas had in mind, but they’re now returning home with an opportunity to close the regular season at 8-4 with the bowl game still looming. There’s a lot of football still to be played to bring it to reality, but a potential 9-4 finish behind a three-game winning streak would be a solid step forward from 5-7 as Sark and his staff bring in another loaded recruiting class.