3 last-minute keys to success for Texas football vs. Alabama

Barryn Sorrell, Texas Football Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
Barryn Sorrell, Texas Football Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports /
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Bijan Robinson, Texas Football
Bijan Robinson, Texas Football Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports /

In roughly 24 hours, Texas football and head coach Steve Sarkisian will take on head coach Nick Saban and the No. 1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide at home at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Texas will face Alabama in front of a national television audience and what promises to be a rowdy crowd at DKR in Austin on Sep. 10.

Sark and the Longhorns head into this highly anticipated matchup against the Crimson Tide sporting a record of 1-0 (0-0 Big 12) following their 52-10 win in the season opener last weekend at home over the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks.

Meanwhile, Saban and the Crimson Tide head into this game with a record of 1-0 (0-0 SEC) after a dominant 55-0 win over the Utah State Aggies at home in Tuscaloosa on Sep. 3.

In the last 24 hours or so, it looks like the betting odds for this game have settled with the spread favoring Alabama by 20 points. And the ESPN Football Power Index gives Texas a little more than an 18 percent chance to beat Alabama on Sep. 10.

Moreover, Texas and Alabama will kick off on Sep. 10 at DKR in Austin at 11 a.m. CT. The Fox Sports Big Noon Kickoff set and ESPN College GameDay will attend in Austin for this Texas-Alabama game on Saturday.

Keys to success vs. Alabama for Quinn Ewers and Texas football

Here’s a look at three last-minute keys to success for the Longhorns in this matchup against the Crimson Tide on Sep. 10.

Let Bijan Robinson take the game over

This is probably the most straightforward key to success I could possibly think of, but it is also probably the most important of the three on this list. Texas needs star junior running back Bijan Robinson to come through with a big-time performance this weekend against the Tide if this team wants any shot at keeping this thing close.

Bijan is probably the best weapon that the Longhorns have in this game. And he’s going to have to be at his best for Texas to push Alabama’s talented defense. This won’t come without its difficulties for Bijan to set the tone on the ground, though.

The highest grade for any single category for Alabama in the season-opening win over Utah State came in run defense.

As tough as it may seem for Texas to get the ground game going early in this game, there were teams that found success in this phase against Alabama’s defense last season. For instance, the Florida Gators and Georgia Bulldogs managed to find consistent success running the outside zone and some option plays.

Now, the speed option plays that Florida successfully ran against Alabama last season clearly won’t be as relevant as the Gators had a much more mobile QB in Emory Jones facing the Tide than Texas has in Quinn Ewers.

Where Texas can take some concepts from what Florida ran successfully against Alabama last season is the motion, schematic wrinkles, and outside zone plays. There were also some successful interior run plays that Florida managed late in the game once they established the ground attack.

What Texas can take from Florida’s success on the ground last season is the layered concepts of motion and outside zone that worked early on against the Tide. Texas can get some different looks where they motion guys like Xavier Worthy and Jordan Whittington to get some open field for Bijan on the outside and extra blockers to create space.

Texas can also work in some 12 personnel to give an extra blocker to help out with some of those great edge rushers such as Will Anderson Jr. and Dallas Turner.

But it’s not just Bijan that has to be on his game this weekend against Alabama for Texas to find success setting the tone on the ground. The offensive line is going to have to provide at least some support for Bijan, especially running to the outside against those stellar Alabama edge rushers.

We have yet to see this offensive line show out against a defensive front as good as Alabama’s in pass pro or run blocking. This is such a young offensive line that it could be a long day for the Texas ground game if they don’t establish the run early on and open up the playbook for Sark’s entire offense to test the Tide.

The best chance that Texas could have to pull off the shocking upset this weekend would be if they have a fourth-quarter lead and are able to put the game in Bijan’s hands from then on out.