Season Recap 3 for 3: The good, the bad and the future in Texas football

Margaret Wirick, Sports Reporter

At the close of the 2021 season, the Daily Texan reflected on the good, the bad and the future for Texas Football.

The Good

It’s clear to anyone who watched the Longhorns that there are two offensive stand-outs: running back Bijan Robinson and wide receiver Xavier Worthy.

Robinson stunned fans in his season debut with 103 rushing yards and his highest receiving game of the season at 73 yards. The sophomore hit his peak against TCU, recording 216 yards on 35 carries. Robinson missed the last two games due to an elbow injury but ended the season with 1,127 rushing yards. Expect the “run first” mantra to continue in full force with Robinson carrying the load next season for the Longhorns.

Worthy had a slower start, taking until the fourth game of the season to really break out. During the Red River Showdown against Oklahoma, the freshman’s raw talent exploded on the field. Worthy recorded the second highest receiving game in Longhorn history with 261 yards against the Sooners. He closed out the season with 12 touchdowns receptions, first among all wide receivers in the Big 12. Worthy’s playmaking ability in his debut season solidified his position in the offensive scheme in seasons to come.

Roschon Johnson filled the gaps in the Texas offense. The junior running back had a steady performance through the season, but demonstrated the different dimensions of his offensive talent against Kansas State. With the first and second string quarterbacks out with injuries, Johnson took direct snaps, rushing for 179 yards on 31 carries. His adaptability, dependable performance and experience should garner continued playing time for the rising senior next season.

The Bad

Frustration with inconsistency of the Longhorns festered throughout the season. Texas lacked cohesiveness with position groups.

The defense was notorious for running out of gas in the second half at the height of conference play. Oklahoma put up 35 points and Iowa State notched 27 points in the second half of games against Texas. The Longhorns’ offense also fell short against opponents the team should have had a handle on, such as Kansas, which put up its most points against Texas since 2007.

Another major issue was a lack of depth. Injuries occurred across all positions, causing major hiccups in games due to inexperienced substitutes. The offensive line struggled most prominently on all fronts, but change in personnel and positionality couldn’t solve the unit’s issues. Heavy and quality recruiting of first, second and third string players will be necessary for upcoming seasons, especially with the impending transition to the Southeastern Conference.

It was difficult for Texas’ offense to find a groove with the quarterback rotation. Redshirt freshman Hudson Card stepped out as starting quarterback the first two games of the season, but redshirt junior Casey Thompson finished out both games. His performance against Arkansas earned him the starting position for the rest of the season. The thumb injury Thompson sustained against Oklahoma led to an up-and-down performance in the second half of the season, initiating the rotation of Card back into the mix. Both quarterbacks’ injuries led to Jonhson taking the snaps at the end of the last game.

The Future

Texas finished with a disappointing 5-7 season and endured its longest losing streak since 1956. It’s a difficult season to swallow, but head coach Steve Sarkisian said he used this season as an opportunity to reflect on the discrepancies.

“Because of the losing streak, I was able to get a lot of clarity on a lot of things that are issues in our program that we need to get better at and that we need to improve upon,” Sarkisian said.

Sometime between now and 2025, the Longhorns will move to the SEC. Depth at each position is needed. Cohesiveness and consistency in all aspects of gameplay is imperative against the more disciplined teams that make up the conference.

“There’s still plenty, plenty for us to work on here as we move forward,” Sarkisian said.