5 Things We Learned About Texas vs. Alabama

Things Learned Texas vs. Alabama

The Longhorns defeated the Crimson Tide 34 – 24 on Saturday night.  Texas has been waiting for a signature win like this for years, but what were the top five things we learned about the Longhorns from the Alabama game? There’s no denying the momentum that comes from a road win over the Crimson Tide. Head Coach Steve Sarkisian must change his team’s focus and redirect its attention toward Wyoming. Now comes the test of maturity, to see whether Texas can handle its new success.

The win showed Texas can compete on the national stage. The victory was something few had been bold enough to predict. The offensive line performed above expectations. The Longhorns had to rally in the fourth quarter for the win, which takes the monkey off Sarkisian’s back as a coach lacking a win against a top-ranked team. They also showed Texas can go into hostile SEC territory and come out with the win.

5 Things We Learned About Texas vs. Alabama

5. The Longhorns Believe in the Deep Ball

Quinn Ewers barely missed Xavier Worthy on a deep ball early in the second quarter. Moments later, the Longhorns went back to the same play for a touchdown. Word coming out of fall camp was that Ewers and Worthy had developed a connection for deep passes. But the biggest play in the Rice game was a 44-yard catch and run for a touchdown by tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders.

Texas stayed committed to proving itself a deep threat against Alabama. Worthy’s over-the-shoulder catch of Ewers’ 44-yard pass was the play that proved Texas could take the top off Alabama’s vaunted defensive secondary. It also validated the rumors of fall camp. Ewers has a deep threat in Worthy and brings a dangerous element to Sarkisian and Offensive Coordinator Kyle Flood’s scheme. The Longhorns will keep throwing the deep ball on a regular basis.

4. AD Mitchell is the New Secret Weapon at Texas

AD Mitchell proved Texas could take a punch and throw a punch right back. A minute after Alabama took a 16-13 lead on a touchdown pass from Jalen Milroe to Jermaine Burton, Mitchell found a seam in the Crimson Tide defense for a 7-yard touchdown grab. Mitchell’s catch put the Longhorns back in the lead, 20-16, early in the fourth quarter.

At that point in the game, Mitchell had gotten lost in the shuffle of offensive weapons. Sanders had been tearing apart the Crimson Tide defense at that point, finishing with five catches for 114 yards. Meanwhile, Worthy was working on a night in which he had five catches for 75 yards and a score.

Mitchell went to work as the primary weapon when he hauled in a 39-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter. He finished the game with three catches for 78 yards and two touchdowns. That’s the sneaky talent that makes Mitchell so deadly. He doesn’t touch the ball much, but when he does it’s usually a backbreaker for the defense.

3. The Texas Running Game is Just Good Enough to Win

There wasn’t much daylight to run to for Texas running backs, who rushed for just 105 yards. They held onto the football and were reliable enough to keep Alabama’s defense guessing. The running backs delivered when it mattered most. Late in the fourth quarter and desperate to get the ball back, Alabama simply could not stop Texas from rushing the ball and running out the clock.

Jonathon Brooks led all rushers with 57 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. He’s dependable and productive if not flashy, and he kept the running attack churning along. There’s help behind him in the form of true freshman CJ Baxter and senior Keilan Robinson.

2. Texas Gets to Find Out What Life at the Top is Like

The hype around Longhorn nation will be as loud as ever in the wake of the Alabama win. Texas will be expected to win every game on its schedule now. With a significant boost to come in the rankings, the upset victory goes exactly according to the Longhorns’ script. They expected this. Now that Texas has the big win and the national spotlight, how will it handle the pressure that comes with it?

Texas already had a target on its back as it began its final season in the Big 12. Everyone wanted to knock off the Longhorns and keep them from carrying off the conference trophy as they depart for the SEC next season. The Alabama win brings the glare of attention on the Longhorns to another level. Now comes the hard part. Texas has Wyoming coming to visit a week after the Alabama game. Texas must prove it can put the big win behind it and focus on the next opponent.

1. The Offensive Line is Better Than Advertised

Alabama had zero sacks against the Longhorns’ offensive line. Just allow that to sink in for a minute. Texas kept Ewers clean almost the entire game. Free to work from the pocket, Ewers completed 24 of 38 passes for 349 yards and three touchdowns.

The offensive line has struggled since the spring as it tried to catch up to the Texas defense. How the offensive line would hold up this season was one of the biggest questions coming out of Austin during the offseason. After the lackluster season opener against Rice, the questions lingered coming into the Alabama game. Based on its level of play against the Crimson Tide, the Texas offensive line now looks like a team strength.

Things Learned Texas vs. Alabama
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