4 takeaways from Longhorn’s loss to West Virginia

Riley Glenn, Sports Reporter

Third-and-18. Coming off the best drive of redshirt freshman quarterback Hudson Card’s career, ending in a perfectly placed deep ball over freshman Xavier Worthy’s shoulder for a 52-yard touchdown, the Longhorns defense had a chance to give Card the ball back down 21-17. The defense forced two consecutive sacks, putting West Virginia in a tough third-and-18 situation.

Then, the Mountaineers easily converted, drove down the field and extended their lead. That’s the story of the season for the Longhorn’s defense: being unable to get off the field. Texas ended up losing the game 31-23, falling to 4–7 on the season and likely missing out on bowl eligibility.

Here are four takeaways from the Longhorns’ loss to the Mountaineers.

The Texas offensive line looked good

It is no secret that the Longhorns’ offensive line has gone through some rough patches this season, especially in pass protection. Head coach Steve Sarkisian and offensive coordinator Kyle Flood trotted out several different combinations of lineman throughout the season, hoping to find a group they could stick with. On Saturday, the offensive line played its best game of the season. The rushing attack was potent due to the holes being created up front, and both Card and redshirt junior Casey Thompson enjoyed  clean pockets and plenty of time to throw. On several plays that would have resulted in sacks a month ago, the offensive line picked up multiple stunts and blitzes due to strong communication.

Give Keilan Robinson more touches

Due to the prowess of sophomore running back Bijan Robinson, junior running back Keilan Robinson, a transfer from Alabama who followed Sarkisian to Texas, got lost among the plethora of running backs fighting for playing time. Keilan showcased his ability Saturday with an explosive 49-yard rushing touchdown, which gave Texas life early in the second quarter. Finishing with 111 yards on nine carries, Keilan demonstrated he is much more than a change of pace back: He can run between the tackles while also being incredibly dangerous in the open field. Good things happen when the Longhorns get their athletic skill players in space. Giving players like Keilan and Worthy designed plays in space is one of the few things that have worked for the Longhorns this season.

Card to Worthy gave the Longhorns life

Sarkisian switched things up from Thompson to Card to start the second half, with the hope that the change at quarterback could ignite a spark for an offense which didn’t get a first down the entire first quarter. Card struggled mightily on his first drive. He looked uncomfortable in the pocket, and all of his throws were over the heads of the intended receiver. However, on a first and 10 down 21-10, Card threw an absolutely beautiful throw over the shoulder to Worthy for the touchdown. From that throw on, Card looked like a different quarterback. He was comfortable and confident, thinking less and just slinging it. The redshirt freshman helped orchestrate another nice touchdown drive, and gave the Longhorns some life to mount their comeback.

The defense had chances to get key stops and failed

That comeback would fall short, however, as once again, the defense was unable to make the opposing offense uncomfortable in any way. The Mountaineers ran for 160 yards and senior quarterback Jarret Doege passed for 290 yards and three touchdowns. West Virginia converted on 12 of its 20 third down attempts and absolutely dominated the time of possession. Despite all of this, the Longhorn defense still had multiple opportunities to give the ball back to the Texas offense down one possession. On multiple third-and-long plays, Texas failed to get off the field. Though Card finally got into a rhythm, the outcome of this game could’ve been much different had the defense gotten key stops.