It’s easy to point to the fact that Bijan Robinson and Roshawn Johnson sat this out in favor of saving themselves for the NFL draft as the reason for the Texans’ disappointing performance in Thursday night’s Alamo Bowl loss to No. 12 Washington. Because yeah, that’s probably the biggest culprit.
Without Robinson, award-winning Doak Walker, and Johnson, the versatile racer and team leader, the Longhorns’ run-and-butter game appeared stale in San Antonio. Quinn Ewers finished his first season as a Texas starter in strong fashion, and the defense snagged things enough to knock the Huskies’ Michael Bennix Jr. out of his game, but the defense eventually drained, and the lack of running punches was too much to beat.
Our takeaways from the 27-20 Texas loss:
What does this loss mean
Texas finishes its season with a record of 8-5, which certainly doesn’t look as good as 9-4. It likely means the 20th-ranked Longhorns will finish the season outside the top 25. There are now question marks at running back and linebacker, who have been two of Texas’ first-place units all season. We’ll likely see some heavy action on the gate, whether it’s current players like Xavier Worthy or Jordan Whittington heading elsewhere for landscape changes or instances where the Longhorns bring in ready rookies at receiver, running back, linebacker, and running back. This means Steve Sarkissian’s first year will be remembered for going 5-7 and his second could be a bowl loss. This means the Big 12 is now 1-5 in bowl games with two remaining.
Who will return Texans in 2023?
The odds are very good, he’s not yet on campus. Five-star running back Cedric Baxter Jr. — like Began Robinson in 2020, the number one high school running back in the country — came out of Florida last week, and who knows what his rushing performance tonight means for how Steve Sarkeesian works the transfer gate.
Keilan Robinson, with questions about his durability, got the start and finished with 8 carries for 27 yards. The Texas running back Jonathan Brooks had 18 yards on six carries. He flashes a 34-yard touchdown play on screen, but averages 3.0 yards per half.
I felt Robinson’s absence all night. Sarkissian went for a slash pass for four-and-one in the first half in place of a pass by Bejan behind a solid offensive line. Later, on third and third, Kellan Robinson was stuffed for no gain. Longhorn hunt.
Three big plays of losing tonight
Fourth deception down. What a play call. Washington went for it on fourth and 1 of 34 with 10:30 remaining in the third quarter. Which didn’t make sense, going 13-10, and when Michael Bennix Jr. lined up under center for the first time all night, and then Mummy flashed all sorts of players on the move, and then Bennix let the game clock roll, it seemed like an obvious trick to get Longhorn to jump off sneak. But just as I figured out that was the call, the huskies cut it off and Penix lunged for the first time. They went on to score a touchdown to go up 20-10.
Wayne Taulaba 42-yard run. Not only did it put Washington up 10-3, it was the first amazing moment of the night from the Huskies offense. And really, one of the only ones, as it turned out.
Xavier’s decline is deplorable. And a drop of Xavier Worthy. With Texas just down 20-10, the Longhorns really needed an answer in the third quarter. But on successive plays, Quinn Ewers found Worthy’s hole open from 35 to 40 yards down the field, and both times, Worthy dropped the catch. Ewers was caught on both passes right in place. Worthy’s second down should have gone 66 yards.
Quinn Ewers finished 31-of-47 for 369 yards and 1 touchdown. Casey Kane (4-106) and Gunnar Helm (1-19) had a great match. Ja’Tavion Sanders had five catches for 36 yards.
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