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Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers (3) looks to pass against Iowa State during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Texas Conquers Alabama in Tuscaloosa

The 11th-ranked Texas Longhorns (2-0) traveled to Tuscaloosa and defeated the 3rd-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide (1-1) 34-24 on Saturday. In a game circled on calendars everywhere, everyone except for Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide was ready for this matchup.

Quarterback mistakes, penalties and Alabama’s pass defense were the root of Saturday’s problems for the Crimson Tide. The Longhorn’s offense overpowered their opponent and created a passing duel that Alabama simply could not keep up with.

Milroe’s Mistakes

Coming into this season, Alabama had a dilemma at the quarterback position. The Crimson Tide had a three-man race for the starting job and eventually settled for redshirt sophomore Jalen Milroe. Milroe flashed his arm and athletic ability by scoring five total touchdowns in Alabama’s week one 56-7 victory over Middle Tennesee State.

Unfortunately for Milroe, Texas isn’t Middle Tennessee State. After Texas punted on their first drive, Milroe made the wrong read and allowed senior defensive back Jahdae Barron to undercut the receiver and intercept the quarterback’s pass with ease. With great field position, the Longhorns drove down to the goal line. A drop in the endzone by Xavier Worthy on third and goal caused Texas to settle for three.

With 14 minutes to go in the game, Alabama needed a successful drive to keep up with Texas’ offense. Following a 75-yard touchdown drive by the Longhorns, Milroe threw his second interception of the game, straight into the hands of Jerrin Thompson. One play later, the Longhorns were into the endzone, extending their lead to 11.

https://twitter.com/TexasFootball/status/1700691178448961719?s=20

UnSaban-like Penalties

In last year’s trip to Austin, Alabama had the most penalties in one game in the Nick Saban era with 15. On Saturday, the penalties were arguably worse. With 10 penalties on the night, two costly penalties that took two touchdowns off the board.

With time dwindling in the first half, Milroe escaped pressure from the edge and threw a prayer in the endzone. The ball was miraculously caught in the endzone. What looked like Alabama’s opportunity to cut the lead to three entering halftime, turned into a disaster when Darrian Dalcourt was called for an ineligible man downfield penalty. Alabama later kicked a chip shot field goal, making it a 13-6 lead for the Longhorns.

Alabama got the ball first in the second half. As the Crimson Tide were driving, Milroe hit Jermaine Burton on a short crosser. Burton weaved through defenders and entered the endzone unfazed. True Freshman Kadyn Proctor was called for holding and Alabama kicked a field goal shortly after. For two straight drives, Bama had two touchdowns wiped out and shifted all the momentum to Texas.

Longhorns’ Dominate Performance

Quinn Ewers played as perfect of a game he could have had. Going into one of the nation’s most hostile environments and completing 63% of your passes while throwing for 349 yards will do wonders for your offense. Ewers and head coach Steve Sarkisian focused on spreading the wealth on Saturday.

Texas had three different players who had more than 75 yards receiving and averaged 15 yards per catch. Georgia transfer Adonai Mitchell had his breakout game on the biggest stage. Despiting catching just three passes, Mitchell had two clutch fourth-quarter touchdowns- including a 39-yard score with eight minutes left in the game.

https://twitter.com/TexasFootball/status/1700696381076263258?s=20

The Longhorn defense held its ground against the Alabama offense. The Crimson Tide rushed for over 200 yards last week against MTSU. On Saturday, Texas held them to 107 yards and just 3.1 yards per carry.

The dynamic Alabama running attack was 39% less efficient Saturday compared to their performance against MTSU, due in large part to a true freshman. Anthony Hill Jr. shined on defense, Hill was second in tackles while also adding two tackles for loss and two sacks. His freak athleticism on defense will be needed when Texas makes the jump to the SEC next season.

What’s next? 

Alabama will fall a few spots in the AP poll but will still have everything to play for this season. Alabama may look at another option at quarterback if they see if a new fit is necessary. If so, look for Notre Dame transfer Tyler Buchner. Buchner played under Alabama offensive coordinator Tommy Rees at Notre Dame. Their next matchup is Sept. 16 when they travel to Tampa to face South Florida at 3:30 p.m. 

Texas will climb inside the top 7 in the next AP poll and will focus on avoiding being upset by revengeful Big 12 opponents in the future. Their next game is Sept 16 where they host Wyoming, who have already defeated one AP top 25 team so far this season. Kickoff is at 8 p.m.

About Nick VanZandt

Nick VanZandt is a senior journalism student at the University of Florida and this is his third semester working for WRUF.

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