Three things we learned from Texas’ win over Louisiana

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It is safe to say that the Longhorns made a statement on Saturday when they beat a top-25 team that returned all but two starters. By a comfortable margin of 20 points, too.

Steve Sarkisian and the Texas football program are very much headed in the right direction, and so far are off to a better start in comparison to the last regime’s initial start. Texas played as complete a game as a team can considering they had a redshirt freshman quarterback making his first career start, a new offense, and a new defense all while going up against the No. 23 team in the nation.

Some schools within the conference had more issues against unranked schools.

As always, when there is someone new in charge the old culture and methods are abandoned and forgotten in order to make way for the new. Taking on Louisiana Week 1 gave the Longhorns an opportunity to face quality talent, while also learn about themselves and establish the new culture. It also provided an insight of what the Sarkisian era will consist of.

There were many things that could be taken away from the game, such as the offensive line looking like more of a liability than Ryan Gosling at cornerback in Remember the Titans, the fact that the pass rush is immensely improved, or even that the Longhorns opted for white socks and cleats compared to the black socks and cleats that they had worn last season.

However, I think there were three things that stood out the most about Texas’ season opener.

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Overall tackling is much better

It is no secret that the Longhorns defensive units over the past few seasons were the epitome of “Big 12 defenses” as it seemed they could not bring down a statue. For reference, see the viral photo of Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb with five defenders around him that led to a sequence of missed tackles and a touchdown.

Texas had two players set career high’s in tackles against Louisiana, as linebackers DeMarvion Overshown and Luke Brockermeyer led the way with 13 and 10. Outside of one of Louisiana’s last drives, there was a lot less whiffing compared to last season. The Longhorns were also able to cause havoc in the backfield with four sacks.

According to The Football Brainiac’s CJ Vogel, Texas only had eight missed tackles in the entire game against Louisiana, which was last season’s best mark. It also prevented points, as Louisiana really had to work to move the ball, and the Longhorns were even able to force a fumble later in the game in the red zone on a great hit by Darrion Dunn. Pete Kwiatkowski has the defense looking much more sound, and if they can consistently tackle like they did in Week 1, they may have one of the best defenses in the country.

Next, Bijan Robinson in the passing game

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Bijan Robinson is a key piece of the passing game

Who knew that giving your best player the ball in any capacity could lead to great things? Apparently that would be news to the last staff, as he averaged about 10 carries per game and almost two catches per game last season. Sarkisian knows that when the ball is in Robinson’s hands, special things can happen and so he put the ball in Robinson’s hands, a lot.

While setting a career high in carries, Robinson also hauled in a career high four receptions for 73 yards and a touchdown. It can be expected that he exceeds this mark as the season goes on, based on the evidence we saw last season with Najee Harris.

Getting Robinson the ball through the air helped Hudson Card build confidence, and also shows the defense that even if you sit on the run, Sarkisian can still find ways for Robinson to get his touches.

Finally, the usage of both quarterbacks

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This came as the most surprising revelation, to me at least. When Sarkisian first explained that both quarterbacks will be used in the game, I genuinely figured Casey Thompson would get a few meaningless snaps towards the end of the game.

I was wrong.

Sarkisian pulled Card out of the game towards the end of the third quarter and put Thompson in who finished out the game. I, like my fellow Longhorns Wire writer Griffin McVeigh, found this to be a puzzling move. Louisiana only trailed by a couple scores, and it seemed as if Card was finding a fantastic rhythm and gaining confidence which is a huge win for a young inexperienced quarterback. Nonetheless, Sarkisian opted to bring in Thompson, who also did well in his limited time leading Texas to a field goal and a touchdown.

This is certainly something to look out for in the coming weeks to determine if Sarkisian was just feeling confident enough that the game was out of reach, or if Thompson will have a consistent role to help ensure he is always ready should the time come for him to relieve Card. Many have speculated that this move was to prevent Thompson from transferring, but you can’t coach to save feelings, you coach to win games. It seems as if for the current moment, Sarkisian will find situations in games to play Thompson.