While it was slow coming out of the gates, No. 11 Texas football and head coach Steve Sarkisian got things rolling in the second half against the Rice Owls. Texas rode a solid outing from the defense to a four-score win over the Owls.
Rice did get a late score on a whopping nine-minute drive that was capped by a touchdown pass from senior three-time transfer quarterback JT Daniels to experienced slot wideout Luke McCaffrey. But that was all the Rice offense could muster for most of this game.
Texas football gets closer than expected 27-point win over Rice to open the season
Sark and the Longhorns came into this game as a sizable five-score favorite against the Owls. But Texas was slow to meet those expectations coming into this game in the first half, taking a lead of just 13 points into the locker room at halftime. The slow start for the offense and the inconsistent execution throughout the game cost the Longhorns any chance of covering against Rice.
Rice’s late score closed the margin of victory for the Longhorns to 27 points, at a final score of 37-10.
Here are four takeaways from the Longhorns’ inconsistent win over Rice to open the 2023 season.
Quinn Ewers still having issues throwing the deep ball
One of the most concerning takeaways from this game is the lack of a deep ball connection for redshirt sophomore quarterback Quinn Ewers with his receivers. Ewers had the same fundamental and/or mechanical issues throwing the deep ball in this game last season.
In 2022, Ewers connected just 16 times on 52 deep ball attempts, good for 412 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions. The results weren’t any better on the deep ball in the regular season opener against Rice for Ewers.
He didn’t connect on a single deep ball this game despite having junior wide receiver Adonai Mitchell and junior Xavier Worthy open or in one-on-one coverage multiple times.
If you remove the deep ball struggles, Ewers had a pretty solid outing. Despite some spotty protection from the offensive line in the first half, allowing multiple quarterback pressures and a few sacks, Ewers had pretty efficient counting stats. He completed 19 of 30 passing attempts for 260 passing yards, three passing touchdowns, and no turnovers.
Ewers also showed some growth in his game, rushing for 32 yards and one touchdown on the day. He had multiple rushes for first downs, a new part of his game after he didn’t show much mobility in the pocket last season.