Texas reporter details what UW Huskies are facing in Sugar Bowl
Dec 6, 2023, 10:45 AM
(Tim Warner/Getty Images)
UW Huskies fans, you’re still three weeks away from seeing your team take on the No. 3 Texas Longhorns in the Sugar Bowl, but it’s never too early to understand a bit more about your opponent in the biggest game of Washington’s season (so far).
Danny Davis, who covers the Longhorns for the Austin Statesman, joined Bump and Stacy Tuesday to talk about Texas’ strengths and weaknesses.
Here’s a quick preview:
Texas is 10th in the NCAA in total offense (475.9 YPG), 12th in rushing yards per game, and 23rd in total defense (321 yards allowed per game). And that’s something that’s changed since the last time these two teams met, which was in the Alamo Bowl last year.
“I think this team is a lot more balanced than the team Washington fans saw last year when they met in San Antonio,” Davis said. “Defense is pretty balanced even though they lost some nice names to the NFL. It’s very tough to run on Texas. T’Vondre Sweat and Byron Murphy are two names to definitely know. They’re two defensive linemen who clog up the middle. Offensively you’ve got (quarterback) Quinn Ewers, who started the season as a top-10 pick in mock drafts. His stock has cooled a little bit, but he still threw for 400 yards in the conference championship game. At some point they had Jonathan Brooks (hurt his knee) and the next two weeks they have two other guys rush for 100 yards. So, the run game is in balance, the pass game is in balance. Overall, just a very balanced team.”
This has cropped up a few times this season: the Longhorns just barely survived a game against the Houston Cougars because of injuries and struggles in the secondary. Is that something UW Huskies QB Michael Penix Jr. and his offensive weapons take advantage of?
“I think people when they saw this matchup, knowing what Michael can do, were a little concerned,” Davis said. “Because if there is one weakness on this Texas team, (it’s that) the secondary can be had at points – especially if they’re not healthy, and there are questions about whether their top cornerback is going to be healthy or not. Quarterbacks with far less talent than what Texas is going to see in this game have had some success against this secondary.”
Texas’ advantage: WRs vs. UW Huskies’ DBs
Longhorns receivers Xavier Worthy (969 yards, five touchdowns) and Adonai Mitchell (813 yards, 10 TDs) and tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders (607 yards, two TDs) make up an excellent pass-catching trio for Ewers, and they’ll be used in Texas coach Steve Sarkisian’s scheme to challenge Washington’s defense plenty.
“I would imagine, just seeing some of the struggles that Washington’s had in that secondary, that Steve and Quinn and that group are kind of salivating,” Davis said. “They’ve got three first-round selections, with two of their receivers and their tight end all first-round worthy talent. So I think they’re definitely going to try to attack through the air… and exploit them vertically and see if they can exploit that matchup.”
Listen to the full Bump and Stacy conversation with Texas football reporter Danny Davis of the Austin Statesman in the podcast at this link or in the player near the top of this post.
More on the UW Huskies
• Pac-12 Networks’ Yogi Roth: UW Huskies ‘very capable’ of winning title
• Why No. 2 UW Huskies got the best path to national title in CFP
• Heisman Trophy: UW Huskies’ Michael Penix Jr. among four finalists
• Damon Huard makes Heisman case for UW Huskies’ Michael Penix Jr.
• Here we go again: How are UW Huskies underdogs in Sugar Bowl?