Texas Football: 3 reasons the Horns will dominate the high-octane Huskies

Quinn Ewers, Texas football (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Quinn Ewers, Texas football (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /
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Quinn Ewers, Texas football
Quinn Ewers, Texas football Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports /

Improved confidence from Quinn Ewers in bowl practice could pay dividends against a vulnerable Washinton pass defense

The biggest x-factor for the Longhorns in the Alamo Bowl will clearly be the play of redshirt freshman quarterback Quinn Ewers. If Sark and the Longhorns get a big performance out of Ewers in San Antonio, it’s hard to see this team falling short of the Huskies when it’s all said and done.

Ewers struggled in the second half of the regular season. After starting off hot against teams like the Alabama Crimson Tide and Oklahoma Sooners, Ewers wasn’t really the same down the stretch as he registered 1,160 passing yards, eight passing touchdowns, four picks, and a subpar 115.8 passer efficiency rating (per Sports Reference). And he only completed 52.2 percent of his passing attempts in the back half of the regular season.

The good news concerning Ewers, though, is that he displayed more confidence and was in a better rhythm in bowl practice than he was during the final month of the regular season. We heard a lot about the improved deep ball connection between Ewers and sophomore wide receiver Xavier Worthy.

And Texas will need that deep ball connection to come alive in the Alamo Bowl given the Longhorns’ matchup advantages in space on both sides of the ball compared to the Huskies.

Washington has a questionable pass defense that is one of the worst in the Power Five. This is one of the biggest reasons why Ewers must perform well in the bowl game since the passing attack is the spot where Texas can exploit one of the biggest matchup advantages.

During the regular season, Washington ranked 93rd in the FBS, allowing more than 241 passing yards per game. And the Huskies ranked outside the top 100 teams in the FBS during the regular season, allowing 2.1 passing scores per game.

The advanced metrics weren’t very friendly to the Huskies either. Washington ranked 83rd in the FBS in passing play success rate on defense and 113th in passing play explosiveness.

Washington does give up its fair share of big plays, which is why the deep ball connecting could be so lethal for the Longhorns in this game. The Huskies ranked 106th in the FBS during the regular season, giving up a whopping 22 passing plays of at least 30 yards.

The last factor that I think could work in Texas’ favor in terms of the passing game is the defensive looks that Ewers will get against the Huskies. Washington plays softer man-to-man coverage, often with just one high safety. Washington relies on its pass rush and some different coverage schemes to cause chaos and confusion from opposing quarterbacks.

But this defensive approach also leaves a lot of vulnerability in space and over the top.

It’s worth noting that when Ewers has faced these one or two-high safety looks against softer man coverage, he’s fared much better than facing the well-known three-high safety looks from Big 12 defenses. That bodes well for him as he prepares for a questionable Washington pass defense tomorrow.