- For the first time since 2009, the fifteenth-ranked Texas Longhorns (9-4) won nine football games during the regular season and earned the privilege of being able to make a primetime appearance during the college football bowl season. The reward? A New Year’s Six matchup at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans with the fifth-ranked team in the country and a team that many feel should have been in the CFB Playoff, SEC power Georgia (11-2).
- Both teams are coming off of losses in their respective conference championship games. Texas fell to fifth-ranked Oklahoma, 39-27. Georgia fell to number-one ranked Alabama, 35-28.
- Texas entered the night a heavy underdog (-12.5) and would need to play a clean football game with as few penalties and turnovers as possible.
- I hadn’t seen this mentioned much heading into this one, but Texas entered the game tonight against the Bulldogs as healthy as they have been all season. Meanwhile, Georgia would be missing a few key defenders, in particular, Thorpe Award Winning CB Deandre Baker, OLB D’Andre Walker, and DT Jordan Davis.
- The Texas opening scoring drive, against the much-hyped Georgia SEC Defense, Texas put together possibly it’s most impressive opening drive of the season. Texas marched 75 yards on 10 plays and converted 4 first downs while taking 4 and a half minutes off the clock in the process before Sam Ehlinger capped the drive with a 2-yard TD run on a QB Power to earn his 14th touchdown rush of the season.
- I don’t condone violence outside of the game of Football or combat sports, but big shout out to Bevo for setting the tone in the pregame festivities going after Georgia mascot Uga. Wow, that could have been bad! That same “piss and vinegar” attitude was something that was on display from the Longhorns D all night, with players flying to the football and multiple big hits being delivered by Texas. Texas’ defensive team speed was on full display.
- Texas failing to even get a first down and being held to a field goal after getting the ball on the Georgia 27-yard line sure felt like a missed opportunity to dish out a huge gut punch early. Cameron Dicker was good from 37 yards and 30 yards in the First Half and went 2-of-3 overall, pushing his season statistics to 18-of-25 (72%) during what has been a very solid Freshman campaign.
- Senior DE Charles Omenihu, the reigning Big XII Defensive Lineman of the Year, was all over the place in the first quarter. Omenihu’s development from a skinny developmental prospect to a potential early second day draft pick has been impressive. It’s been a joy to see it all play out and come to fruition for him over his 4 seasons at Texas.
- On Texas’ third Offensive drive of the game, where Ehlinger fumbled the exchange with Keaontay Ingram, D’Shawn Jamison was in the game and was sent in motion. I believe that Ehlinger was reading the end man on the LOS in an attempt to pull the ball and throw it out to Jamison in the flats. A new wrinkle that appeared to have been added over the course of bowl practices. I’m thinking that this is Jamison’s last game on offense in a Texas uniform.
- Sophomore DE Taquon Graham forced the fumble of Georgia RB Deandre Swift, which was recovered by Junior NT Gerald Wilbon. A big play from two guys that Texas will be relying on heavily in 2019 to anchor their front seven. Freshman Joseph Ossai was also in the ballgame during the play, he was aligned as an Outside Linebacker in a 3-3-5 stack look. I found that look to be very interesting.
- For some reason, Texas chose to bring a safety blitz from the wide side of the field on 2nd-and-10, resulting in the RB for Georgia wheeling out of the backfield untouched and wide open for Georgia’s first score of the game. While I understand being aggressive, I can’t agree with bringing a run blitz in that scenario. It was an unnecessary gamble taken by the defense.
- We reached the midway point in the 2nd Quarter and Collin Johnson has yet to touch the football. I think I remember him being targeted once in the 1st. Johnson is still playing with a brace on his left knee.
- The spin escape of blindside pressure at the last possible second and 17-yard scamper by Sam Ehlinger after LT Calvin Anderson was beat badly, was very Tony Romo-like.
- Freshman Swiss Army Knife BJ Foster forced a second fumble of Georgia RB D’Andre Swift with a big blow, but Texas was unable to recover. I remain extremely bullish on what this young man will accomplish before his time is up in Austin.
- Senior LB Anthony Wheeler looked like he knew what he was doing on the 3rd down sack with Georgia threatening late in the first half. Wheeler has always been at his best when he is moving forward and he can be as straight-line as possible. BJ Foster appeared to get caught up in some friendly fire in the aftermath of that big play but would return.
- Freshman DL Moro Ojomo and Freshman DL Keondre Coburn were noticed in the rotation a few times during the first half. It looks like the LB experiment with Junior DL Malcolm Roach is indeed over, although, they get creative with him on obvious passing downs (I saw him lined up at Nose in the 3rd Quarter.) Roach looks every bit like a lineman today, at LEAST 275lbs. I believe that Texas has reasons to be excited about what they bring back in the trenches next season on both sides of the ball.
- Texas held Georgia, the SEC’s leading rushing team, to just 29 yards rushing in the first half and 118 yards of Total Offense. Georgia converted 5-of-8 on third downs (Texas was 108th out of 129 teams in third down Defense coming into this one) but only managed 7 points in the first half. Jake Fromm was 9-of-15 for 89 yards. That’s a hell of a job by the good guys.
- Texas had 178 yards of Total Offense in the first half using a very balanced attack, with 98 yards passing and 80 yards rushing, respectively. Texas was 4-of-8 on third downs. Sam Ehlinger was 10-of-13 for 90 yards. That’s a formula for success.
- My only complaint would be Texas having to settle for two field goals after being gifted prime field position twice in the first half. Definitely will be looking for improvement in that area in 2019 with what will be a veteran, battle-tested Sam Ehlinger under center.
- Star Junior WR Collin Johnson went without a catch in the first half of this ballgame, yet Texas still held a 20-7 lead. File that away under “Things I never thought I’d say” heading into this one tonight.
- I didn’t agree with Tom Herman’s decision to onside kick to start the second half at all. At. All. The defense had been playing well, why risk giving Georgia field position and momentum? Just like the safety blitz that resulted in Georgia’s only score, I felt that it was unnecessary with how well the team was performing.
- Luckily for Texas it didn’t matter, as the defense forced a turnover with a PJ Locke interception, after a very poor decision by Fromm. The interception was Locke’s first pick since 2016 and the third of his career. Locke’s time at Texas has flown by it seems like. It was nice to see him make a big play in his final game, he’ll have that ball forever.
- Senior HB/TE Andrew Beck has been consistent and reliable all year long. He’s been a star in his role this season and has provided a dimension to the Texas offense this season that is has lacked for over a decade. Hopefully, Sophomore TE Cade Brewer is close to being back fully healthy for next season.
- Freshman RB Keaontay Ingram looked like his legs were wobbly the entire first half. I don’t know if it was jitters or what, but he seemed to settle in and get a slightly better rhythm in the second half. Ingram would finish the game with 25 yards on 9 carries. Ingram would finish his Freshman campaign with a very respectable 708 yards on 142 carries (4.98ypc) and 3 touchdowns. He added 27 receptions for 170 yards and 2 touchdowns.
- Don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but Senior OL Patrick Vahe rarely makes it to his target when he gets asked to pull. He usually ends up getting in the runner’s way more than anything. Vahe started his 45th consecutive game tonight for Texas. He’s been a consistent figure during these transformative couple of seasons for Texas.
- If you have DVR, at the 1:52 mark in the 3rd Quarter, take a look at Freshman All-American RT Sam Cosmi and the job that he does setting the edge and then climbing to the next level, escorting Tre Watson along the sideline for a first down. Good stuff.
- Speaking of Watson, in his Texas finale, the Cal grad transfer had himself a very solid night. He ran with an attitude. He finished the game with 18 carries for 91 yards for a 5.1 yard per carry average. Watson finished the season with 185 carries for 786 yards and 3 touchdowns, while contributing 22 receptions for 143 yards and 3 more scores. I’d say he met expectations.
- While I personally would have kicked the field goal, I understood Tom Herman choosing to hurry up and go for it on 4th and 1 to end the 3rd quarter. No more settling for field goals. That call and conversion was Texas showing some killer instinct and the risk made sense with you already being deep in Georgia territory and with your D playing well.
- Breaking news: Texas is going to miss Seniors NT Chris Nelson and LB Gary Johnson next season. That’s a ton of production that is going to have to be replaced, although, I do believe Texas has the guys to get it done.
- Sam Ehlinger took on the entire Georgia secondary on his 10-yard run to set Texas up for 1st and 10 at the UGA 1-yard line early in the 4th quarter. That tough run was evidence of the new attitude and identity that Texas developed this season. Texas was simply the tougher team tonight, as they have been most of the season.
- Odd stat of the night: Georgia did not commit a single penalty during play the entire night until they were called for two holds with under 1:00 left. That is nearly impossible to do.
- Reminder: BJ Foster is a bad, bad man.
- It felt like Texas brought pressure on first down about 80% of the time tonight. In the middle of the fourth quarter, with the momentum shifted Georgia’s way, Todd Orlando brought pressure three straight times, resulting in incomplete passes and forcing a three-and-out to shift the momentum right back to Texas. Outstanding job.
- I thought that it was a very quiet night for Senior CBs Kris Boyd and Davante Davis, which is a good thing. Davis did not deserve his ejection for targeting on his hit late in the game.
- If the late 4th quarter 3rd-and-6 conversion for 16 yards, where he bounced off of the linebacker immediately after catching the ball and picked up another 10 yards, is the last play that Lil’Jordan Humphrey makes for Texas, it was a perfect snapshot of what he was all about during his time in burnt orange. Humphrey finished the game with 6 receptions for 67 yards and finished the season with 86 receptions for 1,176 yards and 9 touchdowns. Collin Johnson finished the game with 3 receptions for 40 yards, all in the second half. Johnson finished the season with 68 receptions for 984 yards and 7 touchdowns.
- Freshman CB Anthony Cook will miss the first half of the 2019 season opener against Louisiana Tech for his targeting ejection on his hit on Georgia QB Jake Fromm. This created an opportunity to get eyes on Freshman CB Jalen Green for the first time, defensively.
- The Texas Offensive Line was not overmatched by any stretch of the imagination tonight. Texas, overall, was the better team from start to finish tonight and deserve all of the credit that comes with that.
- Sugar Bowl Most Outstanding Player Sam Ehlinger finished the game 19-of-27 for 169 yards through the air and played turnover free football, as he has most of this season. He added 64 yards on the ground and 3 scores. Ehlinger finished the season 274-of-425 (58.9%) for 25 touchdowns to only 5 interceptions. Ehlinger added 482 yards rushing on 164 attempts and 16 rushing touchdowns, breaking the record previously held by Texas legend Vince Young.
- The Texas Defense held Georgia to 284 total yards, surrendering only 72 on the ground, holding Georgia well below their average of 251 rushing yards per game. Texas forced two turnovers while Jake Fromm was 20-of-34 for 212 yards and 3 touchdowns with 1 interception.
- Texas finishes the 2018 season with a 10-4 record that includes a Sugar Bowl victory over the fifth-ranked team in the nation and a Big XII Championship Game appearance in Tom Herman’s second year as Head Coach in Texas. This is the first 10-win season for Texas since 2009. This will be the most excitement and positive momentum that the Texas Football program has had heading into an offseason in nearly a decade.
- Taking a quick peek at the future, Texas will likely be a preseason top-10 team heading into next season and possibly even Big XII favorites. Let’s just take a way-too-early look at what the offense could look like next season:
Quarterback: Texas is set. Sam Ehlinger returns as a Junior and Sugar Bowl MVP. He will be expected to perform at an All-Conference level next season. The backup situation will be extremely entertaining to watch this offseason.
Offensive Line: Texas returns All-Conference C Zach Shackelford and Freshman All-American RT Samuel Cosmi who will likely move over to LT. Derek Kerstetter has experience and should be expected to start somewhere. Junior OL Denzel Okafor redshirted, great news. The entire 2018 Freshman OL class redshirted, also great news. Depth development and order will be fun to watch throughout the Spring and next Fall. The Grad transfer wire is being monitored heavily, I’m sure.
Wide Receiver/Tight End: If Collin Johnson and Lil’Jordan Humprhey return, Texas could boast the best WR group in the Big XII and possibly the entire nation heading into next season. If Texas were to lose one, they remain loaded. Devin Duvernay returns as a Senior. Sophomores Josh Moore, Brennan Eagles, Jordan Pouncey (who was a star last spring) return. Al’vonte Woodard redshirted and a very talented group of Freshman are set to enroll soon. At Tight End, Sophomore Cade Brewer should be healthier and closer to the 2017 version of himself that showed flashes of a playmaker in the passing game. Young players Reese Leitao and Malcolm Epps get a chance to play as well.
Running Back: Keaontay Ingram returns as a Sophomore, Daniel Young as a Junior. Texas has question marks as far as depth and big-play ability is concerned heading into next season, in my opinion.
QB: Sam Ehlinger, Casey Thompson, Roschon Johnson*
RB: Keaontay Ingram, Daniel Young, Jordan Whittington*
OL: LT Sam Cosmi, LG Junior Angelau, C Zach Shackelford, RG Derek Kerstetter, RT Denzel Okafor
TE: Cade Brewer, Malcolm Epps, Reese Leitao
WR: 1s: Collin Johnson, Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Devin Duvernay
2s: Brennan Eagles, Josh Moore, Jake Smith*
Thank you, guys and Happy New Year, everyone!