Football

Texas 28, Georgia 21: Our five Sugar Bowl questions for Texas — answered

Posted January 2nd, 2019

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Revisiting our five pregame questions that were facing the Longhorns ahead of Tuesday night’s 28-21 win in the Sugar Bowl.

Here’s how they played out:

1. Who ended the season as Texas’ leading rusher?

Tre Watson.

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The graduate transfer from Cal, playing in his final game, led all rushers with 91 yards on 18 carries. That gives him 786 yards for the season. He went into the Sugar Bowl with a 12-yard cushion over freshman Keaontay Ingram, who finished with 25 yards Tuesday night. Watson got twice as many carries as Ingram did and he averaged 5.1 yards against the Bulldogs. Last year, quarterback Sam Ehlinger led the team in rushing as a freshman.

2. Did Texas avoid another fourth quarter letdown?

Yes.

Mind you, the Bulldogs did score two fourth-quarter touchdowns after they trailed 28-7. But it never felt like Texas had ever lost control — well, maybe on those back-to-back plays with about a minute left that saw Davante Davis get ejected for targeting, and then Anthony Cook get ejected for targeting and Gary Johnson get called for unsportsmanlike conduct. But in terms of the game itself, the gutsy fourth-and-1 call that needed a replay review to confirm Ehlinger had scored effectively put the game away. Texas was outscored 148-66 in the fourth quarter this season.

3. Did Texas’ defense or Georgia’s offense control the ground?

Texas’ defense.

The Longhorns held Georgia — one of the country’s highest-ranked rushing offenses — to a season-low 72 yards. The Bulldogs averaged just 2.4 yards per carry. Georgia was averaging 251.6 rushing yards a game. Its inability to establish the run was one of the big keys to Texas’ win. The longest run was only 11 yards. D’Andre Swift rushed for only 12 yards on eight tries. Elijah Holyfield had 62 yards but didn’t score.

4. What impact did Texas’ punter have?

A big one.

Ryan Bujcevski didn’t finish with Michael Dickson numbers — last year’s Texas punter (and Bujcevski’s cousin) earned MVP honors in the Texas Bowl win over Missouri and is now a rookie Pro Bowler for the Seattle Seahawks — but the freshman saved his best game for last. He averaged 41.4 yards Tuesday night and was so effective in terms of placement and starting field position. He booted a 52-yarder and a 48-yarder, and had three punts on the shorter side (33, 38 and 36 yards) but all were fair catches, and four punts started Georgia at its own 10-, 15-, 10- and 15-yard lines. He neutralized Bulldogs returner Mecole Hardman, who averaged 20.1 yards per return this season.

5. Did Texas set any school records?

Yes.

Ehlinger, whose streak of 308 passes without an interception set a Texas and Big 12 record, set another school mark with his three rushing touchdowns against Georgia; he had 16 rushing scores on the season, breaking the old mark of 14. And  Cameron Dicker, with 17 field goals, set a UT freshman record. Lil’Jordan Humphrey and Collin Johnson came up 23 yards short of eclipsing the 2,183 combined receiving yards that Quan Cosby and Jordan Shipley produced in 2008. And Caden Sterns, whose four interceptions are tied for a school record, didn’t play because of injury.

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