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Texas Has Lot to Learn from Alabama, Arkansas

Longhorns regularly lose to SEC teams in games that matter, must finally learn to grow from it before entering conference
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If Texas doesn't learn after being taught a very specific lesson by Alabama twice, then perhaps the AAU designation that brings the university such prestige doesn't apply to its athletics department.

As a long line of Arkansas coaches, along with the entire Razorback fan base has learned, the Alabamas and Georgias of the world don't beat you once. The fallout from going to war with them usually leads to multiple potential losses.

Competing at the top of the SEC is a war of attrition. Even if a team has the right personnel and loses no one to injury, the physical toll such games take tend to carry over for a few games through a string of physical match-ups.

Unfortunately for Texas, when it has come time to play the Crimson Tide in a game that matters, the type of players needed to hold up haven't been there. 

Quarterback Quinn Ewers, back-up quarterback Hudson Card, running back Bijan Robinson and cornerback D'Shawn Jamison, all essential to finally digging Texas out of the dumpster, came away injured.

Even though Jeff Traylor's UTSA team is a salty bunch who can take advantage of so many injuries, a trip through the Roadrunners, Texas Tech, West Virginia and Oklahoma is much different than following up Alabama with Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky and Oklahoma. 

Injuries can heal with the current schedule. They just get worse or become structural in an SEC schedule. 

That physical grind allows an Alabama or Georgia game to echo throughout the schedule, resulting in losses that might not have happened at full strength as pain and injury becomes worse. 

There are two things a team needs to survive a legitimate game against the elite of the SEC. 

1. Exceptional offensive linemen with a mean streak and a love of brutality.

2a. Either a quarterback like Bryce Young who has six eyes in the back of his head and the elusiveness of a gazelle being pursued by lions,

or,

2b. A giant tank capable of absorbing huge amounts of punishment like Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson,

or,

2c. A quarterback with a hair trigger like Mississippi State's Will Rogers who can get rid of the ball so fast there's no time to get to him.

Texas has never had one of these with Alabama on the docket in a meaningful game, but will need to learn its lesson before time comes to enter the SEC, or, as history suggests, winning will continue to not happen in Austin.

The Longhorns lost Colt McCoy in the national championship game after Marcel Darius hit him with what would be a fairly standard SEC hit and snapped McCoy like a twig.

It was immediately over. The good times for Texas went down with their quarterback and the Longhorns have spent over a decade trying to recover.

This past weekend against Alabama, Ewers proved Texas still prepares for Big 12 defenses even though Steve Sarkisian has SEC experience. Sark's staff failed Ewers by not teaching him to make sure his feet are grounded when taking a hit by an SEC level defender. 

It's reckless and should have never happened, but then again, he shouldn't have been on the field against Alabama with his skill set without the protection of another 8-12 pounds packed on from a stringent offseason workout.

He's not quick like Young and doesn't have the size of Jefferson. His trigger is fairly fast, so that gives him a decent comparison to Rogers.

However, Rogers packs more muscle on his body to protect himself, gets the ball out twice as fast and had a better line in front of him. 

Back-up Hudson Card, who is even smaller that Ewers, played admirably while taking a pounding, especially after the Longhorn offensive line became overwhelmed throughout most of the second half.

It's a wonder Card only came away with an ankle injury after taking so many hard shots.

Longhorn fans gave the same excuse after that national championship game they gave on Saturday.

But what if the quarterback hadn't gotten hurt? 

Or in this case, every significant player on the team outside of receivers Xavier Worthy and Jordan Whittington.

That's just life in the SEC. Players are going to get hurt, especially when they line up against Alabama or Georgia with something on the line. 

Just ask Arkansas. The Hogs have outscored Texas 71-28 the past two times the two squared off. 

However, after literally making the Longhorns quit in 2021, when national champion Georgia rolled onto the schedule the Bulldogs destroyed No. 8 Arkansas. 

Injuries and general physical wear and tear helped that loss spiral into three straight losses before the Hogs were able to recover and win five of their last six, with their only loss being a close one in Tuscaloosa.

It's par for the course in the SEC and why tremendous quality depth and a well timed off-week are crucial to surviving the gauntlet. 

The people of Austin may turn their nose up at the strategy of moving a weaker non-conference opponent from early in the season to a strategically planned week midway through the conference schedule, but after a few years of battling through an SEC schedule, they will recognize its wisdom.

But then again, learning necessary lessons hasn't really been a thing lately at Texas.

Arkansas divider

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Arkansas divider

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