No. 7 Texas football and head coach Steve Sarkisian won their fourth game in a row and ninth on the season this weekend by hanging on to defeat the TCU Horned Frogs and head coach Sonny Dykes on the road in Fort Worth on Nov. 11. Texas moves to 9-1 (6-1 Big 12) this season with the 29-26 win over TCU on the road at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Week 11.
Sark and the Longhorns did have a comfortable lead at one point in this game. Texas went into the locker room at halftime up 26-6 on the Horned Frogs. As has been the case in three of the last four games, though, the Longhorns let off the gas in the second half.
Texas football gains full control of first place in the Big 12 after topping TCU in Week 11
In three of the last four contests, the Longhorns have let a 20+ point second-quarter lead slip to one score or less by the fourth quarter, including in the TCU game this weekend. TCU beat Texas in the fourth quarter 20-3.
And it took a late connection from redshirt sophomore quarterback Quinn Ewers to junior wide receiver Adonai Mitchell for the Longhorns to seal the win over TCU by just three points. Texas does survive with another big road win in conference play.
What matters is the Longhorns are alive in the race for a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game and for the College Football Playoff.
Here are four overreactions from the Longhorns’ narrow victory over TCU on the road in Week 11.
Quinn Ewers will regain Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year form when he gets healthier in the next couple of weeks
Ewers made his first start against TCU after missing the previous two starts against the No. 23 Kansas State Wildcats and BYU Cougars. He looked great in the first half, completing 15-of-22 passing attempts for 244 passing yards, one passing touchdown, and one interception.
And Ewers’ interception in the first half didn’t even result in TCU getting the football, thanks to an insane hustle play from redshirt senior wide receiver Jordan Whittington, where he forced a fumble to give Texas the ball back.
Ewers was on pace to throw nearly 50 passing attempts and for over 450 yards after the first half against TCU. But Sarkisian let off the gas passing the ball in the second half, including just three fourth-quarter passing attempts. Ewers finished 22-of-33 passing for 317 yards, one touchdown, and one interception.
He only got under 100 passing yards in the second half after putting up some of his best first-half passing stats of the season. This could be due to pain management for Sark and the Longhorns to ensure that Ewers doesn’t overdo it in his first game back from the shoulder injury.
Another reason for Sark turning away from the passing game down the stretch in the second half could be the emphasis on getting more physical to close out games. He wanted to set a physical tone in the second half of games to put teams away down the stretch. But that just didn’t happen as Texas rushed for roughly four yards per carry (second lowest total of the season) and three first downs (fewest this season in Big 12 play) on the ground in the final 30 minutes.
If Ewers is healthier heading into the Week 12 matchup on the road against the Iowa State Cyclones, Sark should continue to trust his arm in the second half, at least more than he did down the stretch against TCU. That’s, of course, assuming Texas can get a solid first-half lead on Iowa State next weekend.