4 takeaways from Texas Longhorns smashing win over Louisiana in season-opener
The Steve Sarkisian era at Texas is already off to a better start than the Tom Herman era began, or the Charlie Strong era began before him, as No. 19 Texas controlled No. 23 Louisiana in an impressive 38-18 win Saturday at Royal-Memorial Stadium.
New starting quarterback Hudson Card looked crisp, sophomore running back Bijan Robinson looked explosive and the Longhorns unveiled lots of things — their new $200 million south end zone, a lively crowd, a new quarterback who zipped passes, a running back who looks primed for a big year, and a defense that produced one turnover, a pair of sacks and five tackles for loss.
Player of the game: Robinson and his 176 yards of total offense. He had wiggle, he had burst, he had power, he looked good running it and he looked good catching it.
Game balls: QB Hudson Card (14-21-224, 3 total TDs; WR Jordan Whittington (7 catches for 113 yards and a TD), and LBs DeMarvion Overshown and Luke Brockermeyer (combined 23 tackles, 1 sack and 2 tackles for loss).
Here are some key takeaways from the game:
Texas opens season strong, while other top teams falter
On a weekend where some of the nation's top teams didn't look like top teams, Texas looked just fine. No. 3 Oklahoma looked shaky at home against a hurricane-displaced Tulane team, No. 15 Wisconsin fell to No. 20 Penn State in Madison by throwing an interception at the goal line on fourth down late in the game, and No. 9 North Carolina stubbed its toe on Friday night, just as No. 4 Ohio State almost did.
But Texas settled in after its first ineffective drive, as Card kept things moving and Robinson kept churning up yards. Causes for concern? Well, Cameron Dicker missed a 48-yard field goal try, there were some penalties along the offensive line, Card had a handful of overthrows and, well, that was about it.
What we saw: Solid quarterback play, a star in the making at running back, a finally healthy Whittington, a well-called game from Sarkisian and a well-called game from new defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski. Oh, and plays made in the running game, the passing game and even on special teams (a blocked extra point and two recovered onside kicks).
What we didn't see: Missed tackles. Texas didn't commit a turnover, ether.
Hudson Card looks good in starting QB debut
Quite good, actually. It's just one game, but the redshirt freshman looked like a cross between Shane Buechele and David Ash — but the best parts of Buechele and Ash and on the days when they played well.
You can see why Sarkisian went with Card. He made good decisions, particularly on two drives that later ended in touchdowns, and didn't make any serious mistakes. He zipped darts to receivers and looked comfortable managing the pocket, getting out of trouble and throwing over the middle in traffic.
Bijan Robinson has explosive game
Robinson got 24 touches. The magic number was 20, as Sarkisian alluded to as a target number this summer. He had runs of 17 and 19 yards and caught passes of 18, 28 and 18 yards and scored two total touchdowns. A great start to the season.
Three consecutive plays highlight the day for Texas
There were three plays in particular — all back-to-back-to-back — that highlighted the day. First, following a Louisiana touchdown that made it 28-12, defensive tackle Keondre Coburn blocked the extra-point kick. Then, on the ensuing kickoff, BJ Foster recovered a surprise onside kick. And then, on first down, Robinson got excellent blocking and squirted for 19 yards. He even ended the play with a little spin move.
Texas vs Louisiana: How they scored
First quarter (Texas, 7-3)
Cajuns: Kenneth Almendares' 37-yard FG gave Louisiana the early 3-0 lead.
Horns: Bijan Robinson scored on an 18-yard toss out in the flat from Card on a third-and-4 play.
Second quarter (Texas at halftime, 14-6)
Horns: Card's second TD pass of the day was a perfectly placed low dart to Cade Brewer, who was draped by two defenders in the end zone. It put Texas up 14-3 with two minutes left in the half.
Cajuns: Almendares' 48-yard FG to close the half was his career long.
Third quarter (Texas, 28-12)
Horns: Robinson scored his second TD of the game, but his first rushing score, on a 7-yard run to put Texas up 21-6 on the opening drive of the second half.
Cajuns: Chris Smith scored on a pretty 27-yard run off right tackle to answer Texas' touchdown. But Keondre Coburn blocked the extra point.
Horns: On the same drive that Robinson was injured, Card kept it himself for a 3-yard TD run. That made it 28-12.
Fourth quarter (Texas at the final, 38-18)
Horns: Jordan Whittington's 14-yard TD reception was a nice cherry on a very promising performance — his best game yet at Texas..
Cajuns: Kyren Lacy, a freshman, scored on a nifty 19-yard pass play down the sideline, twirling out of a tackle with 9:31 left.. But the 2-point pass failed.
Horns: Dicker missed from 48 in the first half, but hit from 49 with 6:16 left, putting Texas up by 20.
Up next: Arkansas
It'll be a Southwest Conference reunion next Saturday in Fayetteville (6 p.m., ESPN). Speaking of SWC reunions, the Razorbacks beat Rice 38-17 on Saturday.