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

Early offensive mistakes plague Longhorns one week before Red River Rivalry

Lorianne Willett
Quarterback Quinn Ewers during Texas’ game against Kansas on Sept. 30, 2023. Texas won 40-14 in DKR-TMS.

After an enormous first half performance a week prior, Texas’ offense struggled to convert in a lackluster second quarter against No. 24 Kansas. Despite a resounding victory, it’s back to the drawing board on many facets as the Longhorns prepare for the Red River Rivalry against No. 14 Oklahoma.

Texas may have beaten Kansas with a score of 40-14, but the unforced errors on the offensive side of the football resulted in another suspect first half performance against the Jayhawks. Missed field goals, interceptions and coaching mishaps dwell over the Longhorns just one week before their matchup against their bitter rival.

“There’s always room to improve, especially going into a rivalry game like this,” sophomore quarterback Quinn Ewers said. “Once we cross that thirty yard line, we need to put that ball in the paint.”

No quarter exemplified the red flags of the Texas offense than the second, in which Texas lost arguably 10 points of offense between numerous mistakes. Texas’ first and most obvious struggle came in the red zone offense. Sophomore running back Jonathon Brooks started the Longhorns’ third drive of the game with a 67-yard run, pushing Texas to the Kansas eight-yard line. With the chance to regain a 10-point lead, Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian drew up questionable play calls, resulting in four lost yards in three downs and a field goal.

“We’ve got to continue to execute better when we’re down there,” Sarkisian said. 

The most disappointing part of that playcalling? The same thing happened one drive before. After an aggressive 10-play drive that also put the Longhorns at the eight-yard line, Sarkisian failed to convert. A throw from Ewers was nearly picked, Brooks was stuffed and Ewers missed senior receiver Jordan Whittington in the endzone. Texas didn’t score a touchdown in the Kansas red zone until there were two minutes left in the third, an odd result given the 40-point victory.

“I told them, ‘Hey guys, it’s 13-7, trust the plan’,” Sarkisian said when asked about his locker room conversation. “We have a good plan right now. We need to finish some drives, but let’s not get discouraged.”

For the second straight week, Texas lost the special teams game. In the week prior, two fumbles on punt returns helped Baylor close the lead. This week, junior kicker Bert Auburn missed two field goals, his first time doing so. The kicker had missed just three kicks in four prior games. Auburn missed a 50-yarder in the second and a 47-yarder in the third, leaving six points off the board and a better field position for the Jayhawks.

Ewers also fell victim to the woes of the second quarter, throwing his first interception of the season in the final drive. However, the blame can’t be fully put onto the quarterback, as Sarkisian’s mismanaging of timeouts put Texas at the Kansas 40-yard line with 13 seconds left. Ewers had to make a play to either enter field goal range or find a touchdown, but an errant throw down the middle found the hands of Kansas linebacker Cornell Wheeler. 

“I was trying to make something happen. A little bit out of character for me this year,” Ewers said. “It was unfortunate, but super proud of how none of us flinched when it happened.”

The first half as a whole has been a weak point for Texas all season. Sarkisian once again had questionable timeout usage and playcalling, something that plagued the Longhorns against Alabama three weeks earlier. Texas averages 36 points per game, but averaged just 16 points in the first half. If not for the Baylor game the week before, where they scored 28 points in the half with 21 points scored during the second quarter, Texas now averages less than five points per game in the second quarter.

“The common theme is the way we finished,” Sarkisian said. “I thought (in) the second half we played really good football.”

Texas was able to finish, and though they struggled, the Longhorns are now 5-0 for the first time since 2009, and the offense dropped 40 points on the Jayhawks. With arguably the biggest game of the year ahead, Sarkisian knows exactly what needs to be done before traveling to Dallas for the Red River Rivalry game.

“They’re a really good team, they’ve got quality coaches, we know it’s going to be a heck of an environment for college football,” Sarkisian said.

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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.