Texas Football: 4 takeaways from UT's Sugar Bowl loss to UW

Quinn Ewers, Texas football
Quinn Ewers, Texas football / John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
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Jerrin Thompson, Texas football
Jerrin Thompson, Texas football / Sara Diggins/American-Statesman / USA

Texas's secondary needs massive improvement

The biggest weakness for the Longhorns that the Huskies were able to exploit was the secondary play. Texas's pass defense had issues this season at times facing some of the better offenses in the Big 12 who could spread them out in the second halves of games (i.e., Houston, TCU, and Kansas State).

Inconsistent safety play that we've seen for most of the season and missing true freshman safety Derek Williams Jr. in the first half of the Sugar Bowl proved to be very costly for the Longhorns' pass defense.

Penix sliced and diced the Texas secondary in this game, especially in the first half. He hit some deep shots and was methodical leading multiple Washington touchdown drives, throwing for over 250 yards in the first half.

While Texas technically did a better job in pass coverage, including limiting big plays better, in the second half, it still wasn't as effective as it needed to be. Penix still threw for over 150 yards and a score in the second half as Texas's secondary was still looking for answers after Williams returned to the defensive backfield.

Washington's receivers proved to be the superior group in this game compared to Texas's secondary, and it wasn't really close. Star wideouts Rome Odunze, Jalen McMillan, and Ja'lynn Polk were able to generate the necessary separation on most plays for Penix to fit some beautiful throws in the intermediate and deep passing game.

It also didn't help that the Longhorns got very minimal pressure on Penix and didn't do much to put Washington behind the sticks ever. Texas's defense didn't make the big plays when they needed to for most of this game. They didn't have a single sack and only managed a handful of tackles for loss.

And the only turnover Texas forced was on a muffed punt by the Huskies on special teams.

It was by no means an easy task for Texas's defense to match up against the nation's top passing offense and one of the best receiving corps in the Power Five. But there are still some clear flaws that Pete Kwiatkowski and the Longhorns must address this offseason on defense, especially in the secondary, if this team wants to make a better run in the Playoff in the near future.

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