4 postgame takeaways from Texas vs. Rice: Casey Thompson gets first career start

Riley Glenn

The Longhorns looked much sharper on both sides of the ball Saturday in a 58-0 shutout victory over Rice after an ugly 40-21 loss at the hands of the Arkansas Razorbacks. All eyes were on junior quarterback Casey Thompson, who replaced redshirt freshman quarterback Hudson Card as the starter after the offense struggled to get anything going last Saturday. 

Here are the main takeaways following the victory: 

Thompson excels in first career start

Casey Thompson looked very strong in his first career start, completing 15 of his 18 attempts for 164 yards and tossing two touchdowns. His second touchdown pass before the half was a perfectly placed back shoulder throw to freshman receiver Xavier Worthy, who seemed to have a nice connection with Thompson. His only mistake of the game was an interception in the first quarter, but part of that was on the offensive line as Thompson was hit as he threw. Thompson’s impressive performance goes beyond the stat line, as his overall control over the offense was that of a veteran, leading the offense and putting up 44 points in the first half.

Explosive running game reappeared 

The foundation of the offense continued to be through the ground, as both sophomore running back Bijan Robinson and junior running back Roschon Johnson delivered big performances for the Longhorns. Robinson ran for 127 yards on 13 carries while also finding the end zone three times. The highlights of his night were his explosive 62-yard touchdown and his crowd-pleasing stiff arm on the opening drive of the game. Johnson, who only had nine carries this season heading into the game, bursted down the sideline for a 72-yard touchdown late in the first quarter, helping ignite the offense. Both backs were crucial to the success of the offense as their explosive plays helped open up the passing game for Thompson in the second quarter. Junior running back Keilan Robinson, a transfer from Alabama, also got in on the action in the third quarter with an electric 65-yard touchdown, demonstrating his impressive burst and totaling over 180 yards for the three running backs. 

The offensive line remains a work in progress

The Longhorns continue to lack a real vertical passing game, simply because the offensive line hasn’t provided Thompson or Card enough time to let plays develop down the field. The offense line is still developing chemistry together, as multiple starters are playing new positions compared to last year. This resulted in multiple holding penalties, as well as Thompson getting hit while throwing his lone interception. The absence of big passing plays down the field will likely continue as the offensive line works through its growing pains. 

The defense bounces back 

The defense struggled immensely in the trenches last week, giving up 333 yards rushing to Arkansas, which included an alarming amount of missed tackles. The unit bounced back this week by pitching a shutout and forcing multiple fumbles. Although the competition wasn’t at the caliber of a Southeastern Conference opponent, it was promising to see strong effort from the defense at all three levels. The Longhorns were also able to get some pressure on the pocket, an encouraging sight after not bringing down Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson once in last week’s loss.