Ewers lifts offense to full potential in 49-0 Red River Rivalry shutout

Hunter Dworaczyk, Senior Sports Reporter

With redshirt freshman Quinn Ewers’ return to the field, the Texas offense showed how dangerous it can be when all of its pieces are in place.

Saturday marked the starting quarterback’s first time in action since suffering an injury against Alabama on Sept. 10. Paired with solid performances from the offensive line and skill position players, Ewers and the Texas offense consistently gashed Oklahoma’s defense, resulting in a 49-0 victory at the Cotton Bowl.

“We all circle this one on the calendar,” Ewers said. “It’s special to all of us because they come into our state and we own the state. (For) us to finally get that hat back is a lot of fun.”

Ewers completed 21 of 31 passes on the Sooners’ defense, throwing for 289 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. He was particularly effective in the second quarter, passing for 164 yards and three touchdowns in the quarter alone — just 31 yards less than Oklahoma’s total game yardage.

During the postgame press conference, Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian revealed he did not tell Ewers he was starting until Thursday afternoon. He said Ewers’ ability to run the offense effectively this week in practice was the deciding factor.

“The hardest part about not playing quarterback is not the physical part, it’s the mental part,” Sarkisian said. “I thought as the week went on, Quinn was more dialed into it.”

When a quarterback is inserted behind center for the first time in weeks, having receivers find open space can help them knock the rust off. Ewers had plenty of open skill position players on Saturday, allowing him to make decisive throws. 

Sarkisian’s play calling and scheming is largely responsible for Ewers’ poise running the offense. Mixing Texas’ effective running game, speed at receiver and versatility at tight end, the Sooners could do little to stop the Longhorns’ offense.

“I love the way Coach Sark calls plays and how much trust he has in us,” Ewers said. “Once you get it down, it’s a really fun offense to be in.”

Junior receiver Jordan Whittington was one skill position player that made life easier for Ewers. The slot receiver consistently found holes in the secondary, giving Ewers easy throws that pick up chunks of yardage. 

Finishing with five receptions for 97 yards, Whittington credits Ewers for his calm demeanor. He said the quarterback’s confidence allowed the players around him to perform to their best.

“If you went to war with somebody, and you look at him, and he’s all freaking out, you’d probably freak out,” Whittington said. “You got Quinn at war with you and he’s just chilling, so I’ll be relaxed too.”

If the Longhorns had a full arsenal at its disposal for the Red River Showdown, the Sooners only brought pea shooters to the contest. Forced to play redshirt junior Davis Beville at quarterback instead of starting quarterback Dillon Gabriel, Oklahoma did very little offensively on Saturday.

When forced to pass, Beville was ineffective. The Texas defense held the quarterback to just 38 yards through the air, completing only six passes.

Without the experience at quarterback Oklahoma is accustomed to, Sooners head coach Brent Venables tried his hand at running the wildcat formation. While Oklahoma saw some success having its tight ends and running backs directly taking snaps, it was hard to sustain a drive without effective quarterback play.

The offensive dominance and defensive shutout gave Texas its largest winning margin in series history. 

“This whole team came together and had a cool moment,” junior running back Bijan Robinson said. “Now we get to keep moving forward. (We’ll) enjoy this one but we still have another one next week.”