Four takeaways from No. 25 Texas’ home loss to No. 12 Oklahoma State

Riley Glenn, Sports Reporter

Entering Saturday’s home game against No.12 Oklahoma State, a lot of questions surrounded how the Longhorns would respond following their collapse in the Red River Showdown against No. 6 Oklahoma. Saturday’s performance felt eerily similar to last week’s loss against the Sooners, as self-inflicted wounds and a poor second-half showing from the offense allowed Oklahoma State to linger around and hand the Longhorns their second consecutive Big 12 loss. 

Here are four takeaways from the Longhorns’ loss to the Cowboys: 

Scripted First Drives Continue to be a Success

Head coach Steve Sarkisian’s play-calling throughout the day was pretty questionable on Saturday, especially in the fourth quarter. However, the Longhorns have consistently gotten off to fast starts due to the success of their first offensive drives. On Saturday, Texas opened with an 11-play, 75-yard drive, resulting in a rushing touchdown from sophomore running back Bijan Robinson. 

It was the only drive of the day for the Longhorns that consisted of more than seven plays. Sarkisian included misdirection and creativity in the drive, which has been the recipe for success all season. Following the opening drive, Texas struggled to move the ball, especially through the air. 

Allowing Teams to Stick Around

With five minutes left in the first half, Texas was driving and looking to extend its 17-3 lead. Up to that point in the game, the Longhorns had dominated on both sides of the ball and were looking to put the game out of reach for the Cowboys. Junior quarterback Casey Thompson dropped back on third and long and threw an inexcusable interception to redshirt junior defensive back Jason Taylor II, which resulted in an 85-yard touchdown for Oklahoma State. 

It was a massive swing in the game, from potentially going up 21 points to being a one-possession game. Texas had a multitude of mental mistakes throughout the game as well: a roughing the passer call on a crucial Oklahoma State third down and multiple unforced penalties from the offensive line pre-snap that led to long third down attempts, where Texas converted just four times on 14 tries. 

The Longhorns have consistently allowed teams to stick around due to poor execution. It happened last week against Oklahoma, it happened on Saturday against Oklahoma State and it will continue to happen unless something changes. 

The Offense Continues to Struggle in the Second Half

For the second consecutive week, the offense failed to produce much of anything in the second half. There is a lot of blame to go around, starting with Sarkisian. Texas hired Sarkisian for his reputation as an incredible creative offensive mind, and thus far, he has proven them right. The offense has produced at a high level all season. 

However, a recurring issue has been the lack of adjustments made in the second half. The offense came out flat following halftime, resulting in one scoring drive throughout the entire second half. The defense performed well on Saturday, but were completely worn out in the fourth quarter due to four consecutive Longhorn three-and-outs. 

The Oklahoma State defense took advantage of the thumb injury Thompson suffered against Oklahoma by completely shutting down the rushing attack for the Longhorns and forcing them to throw vertically, which they failed miserably at due to poor offensive line play, poor quarterback play and poor play design. Texas has yet to play 60 minutes of strong football this season, and it has cost them in consecutive weeks in winnable games.

Breathe, Longhorn Fans

While the last two weeks have been brutal for Texas and its fanbase, it is important to contextualize that this season is a transition year. The Longhorns have a new coach, new quarterback and overall young roster. While it is incredibly disappointing to watch this team lose games they shouldn’t, it is vital to give Sarkisian and his staff time to figure it all out. 

Winning doesn’t happen overnight; it is a process built through experience. The talent has absolutely flashed, as there hasn’t been one game where Texas looked overmatched. Instead, the Longhorns are a team that doesn’t know how to win football games yet, and opposing teams have taken advantage of that. 

It is important now more than ever to trust the process.