Texas Football Reshapes Its Focus During Bye Week
By Jason Kinander
Reporting Texas TV
AUSTIN, Texas – The University of Texas football team’s unbeaten season ended Oct. 7 when the Longhorns lost to rival University of Oklahoma, 34-30.
The loss complicates Texas’ race for both the Big 12 Conference Championship and the College Football Playoff National Championship. The Longhorns traded first place with OU in the conference standings following the defeat and dropped from No. 3 to 9 in the AP rankings.
The loss came right before the Longhorns’ bye week, giving players and staff two weeks to fix crucial errors such as missed tackles and botched scoring opportunities that contributed to the loss.
The Texas defense allowed the Oklahoma offense to march down the field and score a game-winning touchdown in less than 90 seconds of play.
Senior linebacker David Gbenda is one of the leaders on the Longhorns defense. Gbenda outlined what Texas intended to do during its bye week.
“We’re gonna go back, look at the film, see where we went wrong, what techniques can be adjusted,” Gbenda said.
Evan Vieth, a sports journalist for The Daily Texan, said he expected Texas to focus specifically on the defensive side of the ball during the week off.
“I do think that we’re gonna see a little more defensive turnover and intensity, I think that’s something they really want to get better at,” Vieth said.
On the offensive side of the ball, Texas has struggled to show improvement since the Sept. 8 upset win over the University of Alabama, even though quarterback Quinn Ewers threw for more than 300 yards in every game but one.
Oklahoma stopped Texas on four consecutive plays at the goal line in the third quarter. The play shifted the momentum of the game and was emblematic of the Longhorns’ struggles on offense.
Junior tight end Gunnar Helm had a career–best four catches for 67 yards and a touchdown in the loss, but he still saw room for improvement.
“We just have to get back to work. [Coach Steve Sarkisian] draws up great plays in the red zone, we just have to execute them,” Helm says.
Sarkisian said Texas has little margin for a loss the rest of the way this season. A second loss in conference play will significantly decrease Texas’ chances at playing in the Big 12 Championship Game.
With five games remaining in the regular season, Gbenda said he is already thinking about a potential rematch with Oklahoma.
“That was a really great Oklahoma team, and they gave us a lot to work with,” he said. “We hope to see them again.”
The Longhorns take on the University of Houston Cougars this Saturday.