Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Running back Jonathon Brooks shines as Longhorn offense slumps in victory against Wyoming

Lorianne Willett

Seven days after a statement win in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the Longhorns fell back into old habits.

It’s no secret that Texas has played down to opponents in the Sarkisian era, especially after big game victories. Just a week after trouncing bitter rival Oklahoma in 2022, Texas narrowly defeated Iowa State at home, the last-place Big 12 team who finished with just one conference win. 

Now, after winning in arguably the most challenging regular season game on its schedule, Texas showed signs of its old self.

Despite the 31-10 victory, head coach Steve Sarkisian felt the need to quote former Texas head coach Mack Brown after the game.

“We had a bunch of sore backs going into that game, from everybody patting us on the back about how great we were,” Sarkisian said, quoting Brown. “It’s human nature to sometimes get distracted by that and you lose sight of what’s right in front of you.”

Texas scored just 10 points in the first three quarters of play, 11 points less than the final quarter of the Alabama showdown. Despite tacking on 14 offensive points in the fourth quarter, the final score does not erase the sluggish offensive performance for 75 percent of the game. 

“For us to win the fourth quarter like we did it says a lot about our mentality,” redshirt sophomore and starting quarterback Quinn Ewers said. “With the fight that we have, I don’t think we would’ve been in the same situation a year ago.”

The bright point for the Longhorns came from the ground game, with a breakout showing from sophomore running back Jonathon Brooks. With an injury to freshman CJ Baxter the week prior, Brooks had full reign of the backfield and took full advantage of the opportunity.

“I thought Jonathon (Brooks) stepped up, shining all the way through, and (I) felt like he got stronger as the game went on,” Sarkisian said. “How many times have we seen that and talked about that with (former Texas running back) Bijan (Robinson) and how well he’d run in the fourth quarter of tight games?”

The sophomore ended the night with 164 yards on 21 carries, amassing 3.7 more yards per carry than the week prior. His most notable play came on a 61-yard rush, taking Texas from third down in their own territory to inside the ten for an eventual score in a Bijan-esque run. Ewers would score three plays later.

“I was ready for it,” Brooks said in regard to starting without Baxter. “Just knowing that regardless if he played or not, we were both gonna go out there and do what we do.”

With Brooks’ success came frustration with the passing game. Ewers completed just over half his passes, only throwing for 131 yards. Outside of junior Xavier Worthy, the receiving corps stayed quiet for all four quarters. Senior Jordan Whittington and junior pass catchers Adonai Mitchell and Ja’Tavion Sanders combined for just four receptions and 44 yards of receiving, with Sanders failing to catch a pass. Ewers had a career game against Alabama, but his failure to regain that magic looked eerily similar to the 2022 post-Oklahoma slump. 

“That’s what championship teams do, they find a way to win when they’re not at their best,” Sarkisian said.

The Longhorns will have to regroup for their first Big 12 matchup of the season, as No. 4 Texas travels to Waco to face the 1-2 Baylor Bears in their final face-off as conference opponents.

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About the Contributors
Evan Vieth, Senior Sports Reporter
Evan is a junior journalism major and the sports editor for the Texan. He is originally from Washington DC and has covered UT sports for 4 semesters and counting. He has covered the Men's Tennis, Soccer, Baseball and Football teams and had the opportunity to write about the 2023 Longhorns in the Sugar Bowl.
Lorianne Willett, Photo Editor
Lorianne is a Journalism and Global Sustainability junior from San Antonio, Texas. Currently, she is the Photo Editor. In her free time, she enjoys reading and playing tennis.