When Texas headed into the locker room at halftime with a mere six-point lead over Kansas, they faced a crucial test of their composure. Despite dominating the game statistically in the first two quarters, outpacing the Jayhawks by a significant margin in offensive yardage and control metrics, the scoreboard did not mirror their superiority.
Yet, under the guidance of Texas coach Steve Sarkisian, there was no room for panic. Sarkisian urged his team to "trust the plan." What followed was a display of Texas's recurring theme this season: second-half dominance. The No. 3 Longhorns executed this script to perfection, ultimately cruising to a resounding 40-14 victory over the No. 24 Kansas Jayhawks, preserving their undefeated record.
The Longhorns Are Not Stumbling Any Time Soon
If you've been waiting for the Texas Longhorns to stumble, it might be time to adjust your expectations. These Longhorns are clearly one of the nation's top teams, and it's time to give them the recognition they deserve.
With an unblemished 5-0 record, the Longhorns are making a compelling case for their excellence. Perfection is an elusive goal in college football, as no team is without its imperfections. Even the top-ranked Georgia Bulldogs had to grind out a victory against Auburn, a week after Auburn's offense appeared outmatched against Texas A&M. Teams like Ohio State and Florida State have faced their own set of challenges along the way.
Throughout September, there was considerable concern about Texas' sluggish starts against seemingly weaker opponents. However, the end result has consistently been the same: double-digit victories for the Longhorns. Skeptics have been on the lookout for reasons to doubt Texas since the season's outset, which is understandable given the program's past disappointments. Despite being a consensus pick to win the Big 12, doubts persisted about whether the Longhorns could sustain their success.
Throughout September, the Texas Longhorns faced scrutiny for their sluggish starts against seemingly weaker opponents. Yet, when the final whistle blew, the outcome consistently favored the Longhorns, with double-digit victories becoming the norm. Despite their impressive start, skeptics have remained cautious, their apprehension rooted in more than a decade's worth of history that feeds their suspicion that Texas may stumble eventually, despite being the consensus pick to win the Big 12.
Longhorn Doubters Have Nothing To Gloat About
Indeed, this season hasn't been without its moments that provided fodder for the doubters. There were instances of poor pass protection and disjointed first halves, such as the game against Rice that left even the most optimistic fans questioning their team's performance. A laborious three quarters were required to break open a Week Three win over Wyoming, and the Longhorns had two muffed punts against an under-performing Baylor team. These are the kind of lapses that keep the skeptics alert, waiting for any sign of a downturn.
In their latest outing, the Texas Longhorns showcased an impressive offensive display, amassing 342 yards in the first half alone. However, they struggled to convert yardage into points, with just 13 on the board. Five of their initial seven drives concluded without a touchdown, instead resulting in four field goal attempts (two of which were missed) and quarterback Quinn Ewers' first interception of the season.
Yet, what sets this year's Longhorns apart is their ability to respond. Instead of allowing these setbacks to linger, they have consistently bounced back with dominant second halves. Even in their closest contest, a 34-24 victory against Alabama, they displayed resilience. In their other four games, Texas has averaged a winning margin of 26.5 points. This is a stark departure from their previous tendency to start strong but falter as the game progressed, a trend observed in the first two years of the Sarkisian era. Now, it's the Longhorns' ability to finish strong that defines their success.
Necessary Improvements For Texas
While Texas' path to the College Football Playoff remains uncertain, the team acknowledges areas for improvement, particularly in red-zone offense, where they ranked 108th in the FBS in touchdown rate. Missed field goals also left points on the board. Nonetheless, the Longhorns displayed resilience, with Coach Sarkisian expressing optimism about the condition of star tight end Ja'Tavion Sanders, who left the game with an ankle injury.
What sets this Texas team apart is its versatility. When one facet of the team falters, another steps up to fill the void. Whether it's Jonathon Brooks carrying the load in the absence of an accurate Quinn Ewers or the stalwart defensive front, Texas possesses depth and adaptability. Fans recall how a different Big 12 team managed to win without always looking pretty, and it seems this Texas squad might follow suit. Their potential for improvement as the season progresses is apparent.
Coach Sarkisian summed it up briefly: "Championship teams get better during the season." If the Longhorns continue on this trajectory, championship aspirations could be well within their reach.
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