The first game of Big 12 play for head coach Steve Sarkisian and No. 3 Texas football is less than 48 hours away in Waco, TX. Texas opens up the Big 12 slate in primetime under the lights at McLane Stadium in Waco on Sep. 23 against the Baylor Bears and head coach Dave Aranda.
Texas just finished a successful run through non-conference play with an undefeated run against two solid Group of Five teams and the No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide on the road in Tuscaloosa in Week 2. The Longhorns are coming off a fourth-quarter win over the Wyoming Cowboys at home on Sep. 16, 31-10.
Sark’s squad rattled off 21 straight points in the fourth quarter to top the Cowboys by that same margin. Texas also has a non-conference win over the Rice Owls to open the 2023 season.
Baylor has struggled out of the gates this season, falling in each of its first two games of the 2023 season. Aranda and the Bears were upset in surprise fashion in Week 1 by the Texas State Bobcats by double digits at home in Waco.
Notable concerns for Texas football heading into Big 12 play vs. Baylor
The Bears also have a loss to the No. 12 Utah Utes and a win over FCS Long Island to bring them to a mark of 1-2 (0-0 Big 12) heading into Week 4.
Texas has the edge on paper in this game over Baylor. But there are still some problematic areas Sark and the Longhorns must address heading into conference play. Here are three of those concerns heading into the Baylor game.
Wide receiver drops compounding with Quinn Ewers’ inconsistencies
One of the biggest issues the Longhorns faced on offense during the non-conference slate was repeated wide receiver drops. Texas had the second-most total drops (eight) and a higher drop percentage than any other Big 12 team in the season’s first three weeks.
And the drops didn’t come from one source either. Redshirt sophomore running back Jonathon Brooks and redshirt senior slot receiver Jordan Whittington both have multiple drops on the season. Multiple other talented Texas skill players are credited with at least one drop on the season.
The fact is that Texas’ receiving corps isn’t doing much to help redshirt sophomore quarterback Quinn Ewers when he is on target (which is most of his passing attempts). Ewers has improved his patience and ability to go through his reads to get the ball where it needs to go.
Yet, it isn’t easy to get your quarterback in a rhythm when his wideouts are dropping over 13 percent of his on-target throws. Ewers needs this elite group of receiver talents to live up to their NFL potential and make some big plays in the passing game in Big 12 play.
Ewers is getting the ball where it needs to go nearly three-quarters of the time. He ranks fourth in the Big 12 among starting quarterbacks in on-target percentage this season. But he only ranks ninth in the Big 12 in completion percentage.
If the wideouts are still dropping on-target balls from Ewers at key points in games, Texas will miss some big opportunities in Big 12 play. Texas must clean this up before it becomes too costly in conference play.