Texas pulled off a big win tonight on a big stage with a lot of eyes watching. This was a much needed confidence booster heading into conference play, starting with TCU next weekend. Here are my thoughts following the big win:
The Battle in the Trenches
I said earlier that if Texas wanted a chance to win they were going to have to get the run game going, and they did that as they scratched out 160 yards on the ground. It may not be a huge number, but when you go back and look at some of those runs late and see how physical and demoralizing some of them were, you will see the importance. The Texas offensive line really went to work and outmuscled the USC defense down the stretch and it was fun to watch. When you take into account Texas didn’t have Keaontay Ingram tonight it makes it even more impressive for me. Speaking of rushing yards, the Texas defense absolutely suffocated the Trojan rushing effort to the tune of -5 yards. That dog will hunt.
Winning the Third Down Battle
Early on it looked like it was going to be more of the same when it came to executing on third down on both sides of the ball, but then Texas seemed to flip the switch. The Texas offense was able to go 10/19 on third down and also converted their only 4th down attempt. That’s remarkably better than the last two weeks and makes a world of difference. On top of that, the defense held the Trojans to 6/15 on third down and most of those came early before things went downhill. USC was also 0/2 on 4th down, one of which came on a goal line stand. Another instance of Texas showing improvement in an area they struggled in the previous two weeks.
Special Teams are Special Again?
Don’t look now guys, but Texas may have found themselves a kicker — and his name is Dicker. I’ll show myself out in a minute. Seriously though, the freshman from Lake Travis was fantastic tonight, as he went 3/3 on FG attempts (including two from 46 yards out) and made all of his PATs. If Texas can get that kind of consistency out of the freshman it could be a difference maker at some point this year. Speaking of field goals, Caden Sterns blocking USC’s only field goal try of the night resulted in a Texas touchdown the other way and almost brought the house down. That was a dagger in the heart for the Trojans, as they were looking for any sign of hope.
Slow Start, but Strong Finish by the Defense
It did not look pretty early from Todd Orlando’s bunch, as they allowed two early scores, but that ended up being all they gave on the night. The defense really bowed their necks and righted the ship after struggling early and proceeded to get after USC’s young quarterback. The defense pitched a shutout for three quarters and kept their boot firmly on the throat right up until the final snap that resulted in a Charles Omenihu sack-fumble on 4th down. This group stayed in hunt mode and didn’t let up once they had USC and Daniels on the ropes. They deserve plenty of kudos tonight.
Momentum Builder in Recruiting
There were a ton of eyes both in the stadium and on televisions watching this game tonight and eagerly awaiting the outcome, and Texas didn’t disappoint. Tom Herman and his staff needed this win in a major way and not only did they get it, but they got it with style points in prime time. USC may not be the USC of old, but they came in ranked and are still a program that many respect. A win over them will no doubt help efforts on the trail. Imagine being in Austin right now as a blue chip recruit after a win like that. It’s going to be a wild weekend in the ATX and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear recruits singing the staff’s praises come Monday.
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