4 takeaways from No. 21 Texas’ heartbreaking loss to No. 6 Oklahoma: Give Casey Thompson his dues, atrocious run defense and more

Riley Glenn

As the Texas offense jogged off the field after tying the game at 48-48 on Saturday, a sense of hope filled the orange half of the Cotton Bowl. 

The Longhorns had a chance to send the game into overtime for the second consecutive year in what could only be described as a disastrous second half. 

One minute and 23 seconds later, junior Oklahoma running back Kennedy Brooks took a handoff, made a cut, and with 10 seconds left, sent Texas home with another heartbreaking loss in the Red River Showdown.

Here are four takeaways following the game: 

Casey Thompson doesn’t get the respect he deserves

The story of the game will be Texas’ defense falling apart in the second half, but junior quarterback Casey Thompson’s performance deserves respect. Thompson grew up in Oklahoma, with the expectation of being a Sooner and following in his father’s footsteps, who played football at OU from 1986-88. 

The younger Thompson balled out in his first appearance against the Sooners. Head coach Steve Sarkisian was able to confuse the Oklahoma defense with misdirection and run-pass options, and the quarterback took full advantage of that.

Despite the Oklahoma defensive line’s constant pressure in the backfield due to poor offensive line play from Texas, he finished with 388 yards and five touchdowns, four of which came in the first half.  The vertical passing game came alive as well, as Thompson was able to connect on multiple occasions down the field to junior wide receiver Joshua Moore and freshman Xavier Worthy. 

Worthy bursts onto the scene

Worthy made mistakes on Saturday. He wasn’t perfect. He fumbled on a kick return fielded deep in his own end zone in a tie game. Still, his stat line of nine catches for 261 yards and two touchdowns is one of the best performances from a freshman in Texas history. 

Throughout the season, Worthy has emerged as the go-to option for Casey Thompson. His speed was on display from the first play of the game, where he took a screen pass 75 yards to the house. Worthy always seemed to make a big play when Texas needed it, including the game-tying 31-yard touchdown, where the true freshman showcased his impressive ball skills despite his smaller stature. The game comes easy to Worthy; not a player on the Oklahoma defense could stay in front of him. 

Where’s the run defense?

The Longhorns’ run defense was atrocious Saturday. The Sooners were able to stick with the run game despite falling behind 28-7 in the first quarter because they were averaging 8.3 yards per carry. With each big run, Oklahoma slowly chipped away at the Longhorns’ daunting lead. 

To start the season, Texas’ front seven was supposed to be the strength of its defense with key returning starters, but the defensive line consistently got blown off the ball against the Sooners. Oklahoma finished with 339 yards on the ground, 217 of which came from star junior running back Brooks. Even Caleb Williams got involved with a 66-yard touchdown run that ignited the Sooner comeback. Opposing teams will continue to run the ball at a high volume until the Longhorns improve their run defense.

Testing Texas’ mental toughness

Losing in the fashion Texas did to its biggest rival will undoubtedly test the toughness of this Longhorn team. In the next three weeks, Texas will face No. 12 Oklahoma State at home, then hit the road to face two tough conference opponents in Baylor and Iowa State.

With a first year coach and young roster, this could potentially be the point of the season where this Longhorn team could go on a losing streak. Instead, if the Longhorns are able to overcome this adversity, it could be a blessing in helping Texas learn how to win football games moving forward.