Texas Is Back... No, Really This Time
By Ross Love
For years Texas fans have boasted that Texas is back after every slight glimmer of success. Trying to convince themselves that they are on the right path back to championship glory. And year after year all they get is mediocracy.
It was often embarrassing. A fanbase claiming that their team is “back” after a lousy conference win. Or a 5-star recruit commits, or they just about break into the top-25 rankings.
But, after walking into Tuscaloosa and punching Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide in the mouth; the entire college football world is joining the Longhorn faithful in the belief that Texas, is indeed, back.
Living Up To The Hype
As Steve Sarkisian delivered his post-game interview in the middle of Bryant-Denney Stadium, the traveling Longhorn support could be heard chanting “SEC! SEC! SEC!” And they may not be there yet, but snapping Alabam’s 21-game home winning streak is an effective way to announce your arrival.
Quinn Ewers was facing questions heading into the season. There was no way he was losing his starting job in the summer. But the mere presence of Arch Manning was enough to send some Longhorn fans delirious.
Ewers didn’t do enough to silence the critics in week one against Rice. He had an underwhelming day in an uninspiring victory.
But in the second quarter against Alabama, he threw a 44-yard deep ball down the seam to Xavier Worthy for a touchdown. Leaving the doubters with little to say.
Texas showed their grit and toughness when Bama took the lead to end a scoreless third quarter for the Longhorns. Down by three with 15 minutes to play, against Nick Saban and Alabama, in Alabama. It felt like we were heading for a familiar ending.
Had Texas rolled over and allowed the Crimson Tide to continue their momentum into the fourth quarter, few would have been surprised.
But Texas answered straight back. A three-play, 60-yard drive in under 70 seconds that ended with an Adonai Mitchell touchdown catch put Texas back in front.
In the next ten seconds of game time, Jerrin Thompson picked off Jalen Milroe and ran it back to inside the 10-yard line. Setting up Jonathon Brooks to run in for the Longhorns’ second touchdown in under 10 seconds.
Alabama gave Texas a slight scare when they scored a touchdown of their own and converted the 2-point conversion.
But showing off their new-found grit once again, Texas handled this by scoring another touchdown. And another Ewers deep ball. This time a 39-yarder to Adonai Mitchell.
The Longhorns had possession of the football for the final seven minutes of the game. As the clock ticked down, Texas had delivered Alabama their first double-digit home loss since 2003. That was 7,273 days prior and four years before Saban had even arrived in Tuscaloosa.
Is It All Lining Up For Texas?
Steve Sarkisian looks to have turned this team around. They didn’t play or feel like the Texas of the last few years.
There were no false start penalties. No turnovers, they created turnovers defensively and the offensive line allowed no sacks. On top of that, the offense seems to have found their identity.
Quinn Ewers had the kind of game that will have his name thrown in the Heisman contention. He threw for 349 yards and three touchdowns and hit the deep ball several times. He looks like a leader on the field and has the offense rallying around him. Look no further than how he was embraced by his teammates post-game.
Texas fans now can’t help but look forward. If they can beat Bama… what else can they accomplish?
There may not be a better roster on the Longhorn schedule than they had last weekend in Alabama. And currently, there are only two more ranked opponents on their schedule. Oklahoma and Kansas State.
Without sounding like the fanbase I criticized at the beginning, but if Texas plays like they did against Alabama the rest of the season, they can hang with anyone in the country.
A Different Texas
We’ve seen what Steve Sarkisian can do in the past with offensive weapons. Now he has Xavier Worthy, Jordan Whittington, and AD Mitchell. Along with Jonathon Brooks and CJ Baxter in the backfield.
Ewers is also the most talented quarterback at Texas since Colt McCoy who can get the ball in all those players’ hands.
For some Longhorn fans, it may feel like we’ve been here before. But you can’t deny when Matthew McConaughey in his cowboy hat, belt buckle, and pressed white shirt was throwing up the horns at the end of the game. It just felt different.
It’s now or never. And it’s feeling more and more like it will be now for the Longhorns.
They have the entire runway ahead of them. But the speed and direction to go all the way. Can they stay consistent? Will texas do Texas things? Or, after all these years, is Texas finally back? I’d say so.
Feature Image Credit: Vasha Hunt (Associated Press)
A lifelong football player and fan based in the North of Scotland, Ross is a staunch member of the Longhorn and Cowboy faithful. Covering all things College Football and NFL related for several years, you can follow Ross on Twitter @rosslove22