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Initial thoughts from No. 20 Texas’ 27-20 Alamo Bowl loss to No. 12 Washington

As was the case several times this season, Texas was just a few plays away.

Valero Alamo Bowl - Washington v Texas Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Texas Longhorns arrived in San Antonio missing some of their top talent, but still went toe-to-toe with one of the best teams in the nation. In the end, though, it was too little too late and Texas fell short, 27-20, in the Alamo Bowl.

Here are a few initial thoughts from the action.

I wouldn’t put too much stock into this one. Winning would have been a solid building block heading into the offseason, but losing close inn the final seconds to one of the best teams in the nation while missing your best player and arguably three of your top five isn’t all that significant. If only a couple plays, like Xavier Worthy’s wide open dropped touchdown, end differently and the score outcome might have been different, too. So, in a season that featured a few losses where Texas was so close, their Alamo Bowl loss is just another example of that. Just use the offseason to turn close losses into clutch wins.

This was the kind of performance Quinn Ewers needed to take into the offseason. 31-47 for 369 yards and one touchdown, all while playing in a one-dimensional offense. He was largely decisive, accurate, confident, and overall played his best game since the OU game. Since that performance, he’s been subpar to say the least, but getting back to his early-season form with a relatively impressive showing can only help his confidence going forward.

Upgrading the wide receiver room will be a major priority this offseason. That’s especially true considering the passing game will need to be featured more prominently without Bijan Robinson or Roschon Johnson. Isaiah Neyor’s return should certainly help to that end, and to include the incoming class, there’s no shortage of young potential available, but potential isn’t production until proven otherwise. As for production, Jordan Whittington might be done in Austin, while Texas’ “best” receiver, Worthy, had a sophomore slump, to say the least, and dropped several more than a few passes for a second straight season. To be sure, Ewers will need to be better for his receivers, as well, but that group certainly didn’t do him too many favors this season. How well Texas’ addresses this glaring shortcoming in their offense will have a huge impact on any progress they hope to have next year.

You only want to be on the field when you’re on offense. Texas’ defense, on the other hand, had all sorts of trouble getting off when they had their chances. The Huskies converted 11-20 third-down attempts and two fourth-down tries, and often times, Washington was in complete control and made it look easy. That’s simply not good enough to when you’re playing one of the best offenses in the nation.

Jonathan Brooks is next up. RB4 due to the talent and experience that was ahead of him, Brooks has flashed nearly every time he’s gotten opportunities, and his Alamo Bowl performance was no different. He turned his eight touches into 55 yards and two touchdown to keep Texas alive in the second half, and going forward, it makes too much sense for him to be next in line to headline a young, but loaded running back room in 2023.