The Sark Era has begun and as advertised it was All Gas & No Breaks. The Longhorns scored 38 points while limiting The Ragin’ Cajuns to 18 points. A very encouraging first game with a new head coach and starting quarterback. Let’s talk about what was good, what was bad, and what was surprising. Grab yourself your favorite beer, cocktail, or a cup of coffee and let’s break it down.
The best player on the Campbell-Williams field Saturday was Bijan Robinson. We should expect this to be the case for most, if not all, games this year. Robinson showed off his incredible balance, patience, speed, and power throughout the game. Bijan was also taking snaps out wide as a receiver to further stress the Ragin’ Cajun’s defense. As good as Bijan was Saturday, everyone was expecting him to be great.
Hudson Card was more of a mystery. No one was absolutely sure who would be starting at quarterback a month ago, let alone how the starter would play in his first career start. Card was protected early by Coach Sarkisian’s playcalling. Eventually the offense opened up more and Hudson took it and ran with it. Throwing accurately and on-time while making smart, quick decisions. Card showed off his arm talent by hitting an extremely tight window in the red zone to find Cade Brewer in the end zone. Card also displayed his athleticism, escaping a few sacks and running for positive yards.
DeMarvion Overshown looked like he improved from last year as well. Overshown, Texas’ star defensive player and leader, was much better against the run than he was last season. Overshown often filled his gap in run defense much quicker than he did in 2020. Obviously last year was Overshown’s first season playing linebacker, so improvement at the position seemed obvious. However, it’s nice to actually see the development so early in the season.
DeMarvion Overshown did improve in run defense. However, The Longhorns defense as a whole was still not very good. Holding Louisiana-Lafayette to 76 rushing yards looks great, but that number is skewed by Texas sacking Levi Lewis four times for -29 yards. The Ragin’ Cajun’s had a handful of nice gains on the ground. Texas was able to handle them, but there are bigger, faster, stronger teams on Texas’ schedule who will capitalize on these long runs better than ULL did.
Texas’ pass defense was also slightly concerning. Again, the box score looks solid as they held ULL and Levi Lewis to only 282 yards on 40 pass attempts. However, they consistently gave the ULL receivers plenty of cushion and gave Lewis a lot of easy completions. Something that you cannot do with a more talented team like Iowa State or Oklahoma.
As good as Texas’ Offense was Saturday, the Offensive Line struggled to begin the game. In the First Quarter Bijan Robinson did not have many running lanes but was able to make plays regardless. Hudson Card was also under pressure a lot early in the game. The Offensive Line seemingly settled into a groove and improved as the game went on. As is the theme of the bad takeaways though, the Ragin’ Cajun’s are far from the most talented Defensive Front Texas will face this season. The Offensive Line’s improvement in-game is encouraging and I expect them to continue to improve. Coach Kyle Flood is one of the best Offensive Line coaches in college football.
We expected Texas to lean on Bijan Robinson and the run game. We also expected to get a healthy rotation of Roschon Johnson. I was surprised, however, that Keilan Robinson did not get any snaps on offense until the end of the game. Maybe Sarkisian will use him more depending on the matchup, but Keilan is a good pass catcher and could be used in the slot as well as in the backfield.
Jordan Whittington had a great game. Catching 7 balls for 113 yards and a Touchdown, Whittington displayed his elite yards after catch ability. I wasn’t surprised by his big game or that he was a great YAC threat, I was surprised by his route running skills. Whittington was more than just schemed open by Sark, he made defenders looks silly trying to stay with him on routes. Whittington is developing into a legitimate #1 Option in a potent offense.
There were only 26 pass attempts all game by Texas quarterbacks, but I was surprised by the lack of production from Joshua Moore and Xavier Worthy. Moore caught 3 passes for 17 yards, while Worthy caught 1 pass for 34 yards. Whittington, Moore, and Worthy were the only Texas wide receivers to catch passes on Saturday. I expect Sarkisian to throw the ball more as Card gets more comfortable in this offense and as matchups change. Saturday there was no real reason to throw the ball and risk turnovers because of how well Bijan and Roschon were running the ball.
Overall, this game went as expected from my pre-season predictions. The most important takeaway from this game was definitely Hudson Card looking comfortable before getting pulled late in the game. Card should give every Longhorns fan optimism for the future. “The Bad” in today’s game is not an over-reaction. They are all things that can be fixed during the season. The players are learning a new scheme on defense and sometimes coaching points will not hit home until they see them in live action. It will take time, but Coach Kwiatkowski is one of the best defensive minds in college football and I believe he will field an elite defense on the 40 acres eventually. Be excited Longhorns Nation. The Sark Era has begun.
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