Texas Football: 3 big overreactions after Longhorns survive K-State

Steve Sarkisian, Texas football
Steve Sarkisian, Texas football /
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Steve Sarkisian, Texas football
Steve Sarkisian, Texas football /

Steve Sarkisian is overcomplicating the playcalling in key situations

Texas’ offensive gameplan looked rock solid at the outset of the game against Kansas State last weekend, which led to the Longhorns’ 17-point outburst in the first 20 minutes. Sark and the Longhorns came out against Kansas State with a balanced gameplan that saw Murphy getting the ball to his playmakers with easy first-read looks and some deep shots to junior wide receiver Adonai Mitchell.

Sark complimented the success Murphy had through the air early in the game with a steady dose of the ground game with redshirt sophomore running back Jonathon Brooks, and true freshman CJ Baxter Jr. Baxter had that long 54-yard touchdown run in the second quarter on a key fourth-down play. That is Baxter’s longest rushing touchdown of his collegiate career.

But the offense stalled after the first 40 minutes of this game. After the Longhorns put up 27 points and over 300 total yards of offense at the midway point of the third quarter, there wasn’t much this unit could do to get a spark.

Murphy was out of rhythm after the first quarter. After going 7-of-11 passing for over 150 passing yards and one passing touchdown in a scorching hot start to the game in the first quarter, Murphy completed just 30 percent of his passing attempts for no touchdowns and two interceptions in the final 45 minutes of the contest.

Despite Texas getting the ground game going in the first half with Brooks and Baxter and with the offensive line holding its own at the line of scrimmage in run blocking, Sark didn’t stick to the run in the second half. Texas had the opportunity to wear down the Kansas State defense and salt the game away down the stretch in the second half, but Sark still had Murphy attempt double-digit passes on first and second downs in the third and fourth quarters.

If Sark had stuck with the run game more often on early down plays on offense in the second half, Texas probably could’ve avoided some of the stalled drives and the costly pick from Murphy early in the fourth quarter.

Some of the play-calling at key points in this game against Kansas State was also questionable. One example of this was the third down play call from Sark late in the game, where Texas could’ve put the Wildcats away had they converted to move the chains. Sark called a toss play to Brooks to the left side, similar to the play the Longhorns ran to get Baxter the long rushing touchdown in the first half.

It was a predictable play call, and Kansas State was all over the run to force a fourth down, and the Longhorns had to punt it back to the Wildcats.

Another decision that nearly came back to haunt Sark and the Longhorns in this game was when he ran the “Redcat Formation” on a 4th-and-2 play with running back Savion Red. Instead of taking the three points to go up 20-0 late in the second quarter, Texas went for it on fourth down and came up short.

That play probably would’ve worked had Red not fumbled the snap, which resulted in a fumble. But this is the type of game where every point mattered, and Texas almost regretted that decision.

All in all, I don’t think this was a bad game plan by Sark. Quite the opposite in fact. He gave Murphy many easy reads to generate big plays for the offense in the first half. The ground game also produced well over 225 rushing yards on the day. But there were still times when Sark could’ve gotten more points from sustained drives and relied more on the zone ground game to get the job done to seal the win in the second half.

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