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Initial thoughts from No. 22 Texas’ 37-34 OT loss to Texas Tech

Well this feels a lot like 2021. 

Texas v Texas Tech Photo by Josh Hedges/Getty Images

Is it 2021? The product the No. 22 Texas Longhorns put on the field on Saturday afternoon would certainly suggest so, and unsurprisingly, it ended with a 37-34 overtime loss to the Texas Tech Red Raiders.

Here are a few initial thoughts from the Longhorns latest loss.

This was the kind of loss that should directly impact expectations for a season. In nearly every aspect aside from some flashes from Bijan Robinson — who ironically effectively sealed the loss with a fumble on the first play of overtime — Texas looked like a terrible team, top to bottom. Weak physically. Poor execution. A lack of discipline. Unable to capitalize on opportunities. Questionable coaching. A complete lack of adjustments. Etc. All of this a week after, in a sense, getting humbled by struggling with UTSA for three quarters, and Texas follows that up with their worst showing of the year. More concerning, though, is they looked almost exactly like the Longhorns of 2021, all the way down to the 14-point second half collapse. Yes, it’s just one loss, but it’s an incredibly telling one.

Texas has to do a much better job of getting off the field on third and fourth downs. In that regard, they were mostly horrible in Lubbock on Saturday. 3rd and 1. 4th and 7. 3rd and 6. 4th and Goal. 3rd and 26. 3rd and 1. 4th and 5. 4th and 1. 3rd and 1. 3rd and 7. 3rd and 12. 4th and 5. 4th and 3. Each conversion noted helped Texas Tech not only stay in the game, but ultimately win it. And worse, often times in these moments, they were simply out-muscled and caught out position, which is much less than ideal in a close contest on the road — especially when the game was close because the defense couldn’t get off the field when it had chances.

The Longhorns got completely overwhelmed in the trenches. That goes for both sides of the ball. Offensively, a young group that’s flashed some promise early looked a lot like the unit last year that often times could have been generously described as porous. the Red Raiders were able to completely smother them at times, preventing Hudson Card from having much time to work, and swarming when Texas attempted to run. On the other side, while the rush defense performed fairly well, they seldom got impactful pressure on Donovan Smith, who enjoyed opportunity after opportunity to pick the Texas secondary apart for 331 yards and two touchdowns. Just weeks ago against Alabama of all teams, Texas finally seemed to be SEC-ready in the trenches, and now they seem to be a shelf of their recent self.

Sark simply has to find a way to get things going in the right direction. He’s now 7-9 at Texas, falling back outside of the top 25 a third of the way through the season, and given how his team has performed the last couple of weeks, you probably couldn’t circle any game left on the schedule and comfortable guarantee Texas wins, largely because the team appears to be regressing each week since the loss to Alabama. Losses in which your team and staff perform so poorly on so many levels are obviously going to cause some concern, and things aren’t going to get any easier for the Longhorns going forward. And to be sure, it’s just one loss, but how underwhelming the Texas looked in the loss makes it hard to believe there won’t be at least a few more.