Texas took care of business as expected, thanks in large part to an outstanding day on the ground.
After being embarrassed on the road a week ago, the Texas Longhorns needed to get back into the win column and build some confidence along the way. Steve Sarkisian’s team did just that, have few issues dismantling the Rice Owls, 58-0.
Given that Rice was tremendously overmatched as a near four touchdown underdog, it’s foolish to put too much stock into the win, but here’s a few, all-offensive thoughts…
Casey Thompson took care of business. In his first start since his senior season of high school, Thompson picked up right where he left off in his reserve role — leading scoring drives. Of his eight drives, all but one ended with a touchdown, though he certainly got plenty of help from an explosive backfield. But beyond that, Thompson was calm and confident in the pocket and accurate with his passes, completing 15-of-18 attempts for 164 yards with two touchdowns and one pick. This was likely the easier start Thompson will ever see in Austin, but at the very least, he looked accurate and in command, and will be making his second start next Saturday. In Thompson’s former place as QB2, Hudson Card saw action for two drives, completing 2-of-3 attempts for 29 yards.
Xavier Worthy became a weapon. Sark mentioned the need to get the dynamic true freshman more involved, and it’s safe to say he checked that box. Worthy received the first touch of the game on a jet sweep, and added several more, including a 31-yard catch and run on fourth down to put Texas at Rice’s 10-yard line, and later hauling in a back-shoulder touchdown pitch from Thompson to cap the first half. Worthy finished with seven catches for 88 yards and a score, so expect to see Sark continue to work him into the offensive game plan entering Big 12 play.
The Texas’ running back room is good. That was already known, but Texas’ display against Rice served as a reminder of how loaded that room is. Bijan Robinson finished with 127 yards and three touchdowns on just 13 carries (9.8 YPC), and Roschon Johnson also eclipsed 100 yards with 112 and a touchdown on just three attempts (37.3 YPC). Keilan Robinson turned his five touches into 83 yards (16.6 YPC) and a touchdown. All three performances were headlined by touchdown runs of at least 62 yards. Even rue freshman Jonathan Brooks saw action, showing flashes with his nine carries going for 63 yards and one touchdown. All told, Texas rushed for 427 yards and six touchdowns, averaging 10.4 yards per carry.
Texas responded. Yes, it was Rice, so the dominant showing doesn’t mean Texas has everything figured out and is set to be that top-15 team it was ranked as a week ago. But after being embarrassed last weekend, it was truly All Gas No Brakes en route to the program’s first shutout since 2017. Save for a few early hickups, the offense was incredibly efficient and the defense was largely dominant. After what happened in Fayetteville, a 58-0 shutout is exactly the kind of performance you wanted to see from Texas heading into Big 12 play.