No. 15 Texas football falls in blowout fashion to Arkansas

Nathan Han, Sports Reporter

Texas hit its first brake of the season Saturday.

The first loss in the “All Gas, No Brakes” era for the No. 15 Longhorns came at the hands of the unranked Arkansas Razorbacks, a likely future Southeastern Conference opponent, in a 40-21 upset loss.

Riding high off a 38-18 win over Louisiana in Week 1, Texas traveled into a hostile Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and came out worse for wear as fans chanted “S-E-C” in the blowout loss.

If the first game of the Steve Sarkisian era went almost as well as the new head coach could have hoped, the second game went almost as poorly.

“I think there’s a lot of big human beings in the SEC. It’s a big man’s league.”  Sarkisian said before Saturday’s game. “There’s a style of football in that league that is a physical brand. When you cross over to play them, you have to be ready to play that style of football, or you get your ass knocked off.”

And from the opening snap on Saturday, Texas did not look ready in the trenches to play that style of football.

The offensive line struggled to contain the Razorbacks’ defensive front, which routinely stuffed sophomore running back Bijan Robinson behind the line of scrimmage and accumulated a total of 11 tackles for loss.

On the rare occasion redshirt freshman quarterback Hudson Card was not under pressure, he failed to connect deep with open wide receivers for the explosive plays that were missing in Week 1 as well.

Texas wide receiver Jordan Whittington jumps for the football in the Longhorns’ 40-21 loss to Arkansas on Saturday. Whittington and Texas quarterback Hudson Card struggled to connect all evening. Jack Myer/The Daily Texan

The Longhorns just couldn’t manufacture any offense. Even Sarkisian’s offensive play calling prowess couldn’t help Texas from being shut out in the first half, 16-0.

And when redshirt junior quarterback Casey Thompson came in relief for a struggling Card and led Texas on two scoring drives, it was too little, too late.

Nursing a 33-7 lead, the Razorbacks sat back in a prevent defense as the more mobile Thompson handled the Arkansas pressure in an audition for the starting quarterback spot for next week’s game against Rice.

But his two touchdown drives weren’t enough, as the Texas defense could not contain the Razorbacks’ rushing attack in the second half. Arkansas averaged 7.1 carries in 49 attempts for a whopping total of 333 yards rushing. Four Razorback players notched over 50 yards on the ground.

Such is life against a smashmouth offense running the ball down Texas’ throats and trying to run time off the game with a large lead.

The time on the field for the Longhorn defense caught up with its front seven. Texas could not stop Arkansas in the second half from running at will as Sarkisian said his team was “fatigued.”

The Longhorns lost the crucial battles on both lines Saturday night. And while discussion will center around the starting quarterbacks, improvement on both the offensive and defensive lines will be the No. 1 priority for Texas.

Heading into their last out-of-conference matchup against Rice, the Longhorns appear to have a tuneup matchup at home. But the Owls pushed Arkansas early in Week 1 before the Razorbacks pulled away in a 38-17 win.

So if Texas comes out flat like it did this Saturday, it could be a long season for Sarkisian and the Longhorns. Either way, it’ll be a long trip back to Austin for the team.