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Initial thoughts from No. 21 Texas’ 41-20 win over UTSA

The Horns got punched early, but punched back until they were in complete control down the stretch.

UTSA v Texas Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Well this certainly wasn’t the prettiest game the Texas Longhorns have ever played, especially early on, but when it was all said and done, the outcome was more or less what was expected.

Texas enjoyed a double-digit win over a stout UTSA Roadrunners squad and was in control throughout the fourth quarter. Here are a few initial thoughts from the Horns’ 38-20 win over the Roadrunners.

Texas needed Bijan Robinson to be Bijan Robinson, and he was. With Quinn Ewers out and Hudson Card hobbled, Texas certainly could have used a big night from Robinson, and he delivered, turning 20 carries into 183 yards and three touchdowns, including a career-long 78-yard sprint to give Texas a 24-17 edge and a 41-yard touchdown burst to effectively end the game with Texas leading 38-20 in the fourth. In key moments, he was vintage Bijan, and the Longhorns may very well be 2-1 and not 1-2 because of that. He finished with 202 total yards.

Roschon Johnson continues to prove why he’s such a valuable member of this team. Not that anything he does at this point comes as a surprise, but in a night headlined by Robinson, Johnson kept the offensive wheels churning multiple times, mostly through sheer toughness and will. The best backup running back in the country, Johnson finished with 14 total touches for 104 yards and one receiving touchdown.

The Texas defense responded to an especially rough start. To be sure, Pete Kwiatkoski’s defense is going to catch some heat during film reviews for their first-half performance, allowing a 20-play scoring drive, a 65-yard touchdown drive, and a quick touchdown strike on a trick play en route to a 17-7 deficit. But after that point midway through the second quarter, they were a much-improved group. UTSA’s next three drives ended with a punt, and though the defense sacrificed another lengthy field goal drive, they responded at a key point the next time with a Jahdae Barron pick-six when UTSA was trailing just 24-20. The next time out, they overcame an atrocious targeting call on a DeMarvion Overshown sack on third down, ultimately getting off the field on fourth and inches to keep UTSA scoreless in the second half. There’s clearly going to be much to improve upon, primarily missed tackles and some coverage lapses, but Steve Sarkisian and PK will certainly be pleased with the defense responding notably after the slow start.

Texas is going to need Quinn Ewers back sooner than later. First, to be clear, a hobbled Hudson Card more than held his own, helping engineer a handful of scoring drives with the offense heavily leaning on short passes and the ground game. He ended his night going 15-of-23 for 161 yards and one touchdown, and added another 35 yards on two carries, but the offense is a clearly a bit handicapped and one-dimensional without Ewers quite simply because Card doesn’t have some of the natural gifts Ewers does — downfield accuracy, anticipation, arm strength, etc. Given those limitations, teams are going to pin their ears back and force Texas to beat them through the air, just as Alabama and UTSA did, and as we’ve seen, it’s just not going to be a recipe for too much success without the added stress.

Jeff Traylor is building one hell of a program down in San Antonio. UTSA is clearly a team with talent, but more so, to throw some early haymakers with a Texas team that just naturally has more talent, you’ve got to be confident, disciplined, tough, and play like you believe you’re going to win. The Roadrunners were all of that on Saturday night. And while Texas’ typically gets team’s best shot, this wasn’t a case of a UTSA team way outperforming expectations — they’re legitimately good yet again and continue to prove to be a program on the rise in a hurry.