Texan Tuesday Football Talk: reaction to Tech, looking ahead to TCU, and more

Nathan Han, Matthew Boncosky, Sports Reporters

Welcome to the sixth edition of the Texan Tuesday Football Talk, where The Daily Texan football beat reporters Matthew Boncosky and Nathan Han discuss, of course, Texas football.

Nathan Han: Let’s start off with what’s obviously the most important thing: Should Texas be ranked after its 70-35 win over Texas Tech? And on a more serious note, what’s your biggest takeaway from the blowout win to start Big 12 play?

Matthew Boncosky: Strictly speaking, yes, I think Texas should be ranked. Having a two-loss Clemson team that has shown zero abilities of a top-25 team ranked over a 3–1 Texas team that only lost to now top-10 Arkansas is silly. If the voters aren’t going to factor in the eye test and rely on what the preseason rankings were, then preseason rankings should be abolished.

But in all honesty, Texas fans should not be worried about that at all. Not being ranked gives the Longhorns that chip on their shoulder that typically is not there. Texas has fared much better in the past decade when it has not been highly ranked. Keep winning, and the ranking will follow eventually.

My biggest takeaway from Texas’ blowout win, though, was how solid the offense played, and most of the credit for that goes to the improved offensive line play. Putting up 70 points on anyone is no joke, let alone an undefeated conference opponent. Texas Tech came into the game looking better than it ever has in the Matt Wells era, and the Longhorns had no trouble getting whatever they wanted going on offense.

I mentioned the offensive line, but I’ll let you expand on that a little further. What seemed to cause the turnaround among that group, and can it keep up the same level of play heading into this week’s matchup at TCU?

NH: Put me down for a Texas-Clemson bowl game, although the Tigers are having their own issues when it comes to the O-line.

For Texas, though, things are looking up like you said. Head coach Steve Sarkisian has been complimentary of all of the offensive line’s starting five, but he specifically singled out center Jake Majors. The redshirt freshman is the least experienced big man on the Longhorn line, and his improvement game-to-game in calling out assignments as the center has led to much better pass protection.

Sophomore running back Bijan Robinson mentioned left tackle Christian Jones and left guard Denzel Okafor as two linemen that have really stepped up their game these past two weeks. Against Arkansas, Jones and Okafor really struggled to hold their own, both in pass protection but also by allowing penetration into the backfield over-and-over in the run game. Against Texas Tech, the Longhorn offense actually favored running to the left side, showing just how much confidence Sarkisian has in Jones and Okafor and how well they were playing on Saturday.

But Texas Tech’s front seven will not be the best defensive front Texas faces. TCU and Oklahoma the week after have the potential to be much more disruptive. Who are some Horned Frogs to watch out for, both on offense and defense?

MB: The Texas offensive line will have its hands full with TCU defensive ends Ochaun Mathis and Khari Coleman. The two combined for 29 tackles for loss and 12 sacks last season. Another name to watch for on the defense, if he plays, is cornerback Noah Daniels. He’s missed each game so far this year, but last year against Texas, Daniels broke up two passes and recorded three tackles in the Horned Frog’s win. He also has the speed to keep up with any of Texas’ wide outs.

On offense, the Horned Frogs’ attack centers around quarterback Max Duggan. He’s been a notorious thorn in the Longhorns’ side in recent years as he’s been able to use his running ability to give the Texas defense fits, especially in the redzone. His play can almost be compared to that of former Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger in how defenses have to uniquely prepare for his ability to run.

Duggan also has Zach Evans, the No. 2 ranked running back in the 2020 recruiting class behind Texas’ Bijan Robinson. Evans has rushed for over 100 yards in four of his last five games and averages 7.8 yards per carry over the course of his career so far. Expect him and Robinson to put on a show on Saturday.

It’s no secret that TCU head coach Gary Patterson has had Texas’ number the past several years, winning seven of the last nine meetings between the two schools. Sarkisian was all business when asked about getting over that hump, so I think the Longhorns will go to Fort Worth prepared to squash their TCU demons.

I like Texas to win a close one, 41-38.

NH: I picked TCU in my staff picks, partly to be contrarian because I’m last. But the potential for a bounce-back win for the Horned Frogs and the likely hostile road environment leave me a little worried for the Longhorns. I’ll double down and pick TCU to win, 36-35.