Alabama vs Texas score takeaway: No. 1 tide survives upset bid as Bryce Young engineers score late drives

The Alabama No. 1 dodged a huge upset offer from Texas on Saturday as Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Bryce Young engineered two late drives that resulted in 10 fourth-quarter points for a 20- 19 on Crimson Tide Road. Kicker Will Reichard drilled a 33-yard field goal with 10 seconds left to send the tide over the Longhorns at Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas.

With the victory, Bama avoided falling for the second time in as many years to an unranked opponent from Texas and losing a regular season non-conference game for the first time since 2007. The victory marked the 19th start 2-0 season streak for coach Nick Saban, continuing the longest active streak in the country.

Despite losing starting quarterback Quinn Ewers late in the first quarter, the Longhorns used four field goals from Bert Auburn — including a 49-yard connection with less than two minutes remaining — to edge the tide up. at Young’s last practice. Ewers suffered a collarbone injury following a late hit by Alabama linebacker Dallas Turner in the red zone and did not return. Ewers moved the offense with ease, recording 134 passing yards to start the game. From then on, however, the ‘Horns’ offense struggled to generate consistent opportunities.

Alabama let Texas stay in the game with the most unruly play of the Saban era. The Tide posted 15 penalties, an amount never before achieved in a single game by any of Saban’s Alabama teams or LSU. All-American linebacker Will Anderson Jr., touted as the best player in college football to start the season, was notably off his game, contributing four costly penalties to just five total tackles.

Replacement Texas QB Hudson Card took advantage of 158 passing yards, including a whopping 29-yard connection with wide receiver Casey Cain to jump into field goal territory in the final minutes of the game. Auburn’s 49-yard field goal was intended to put the ‘Horns on top for good, but failed to win the game. Texas running back Bijan Robinson also had several huge runs and catches, finishing with 131 all-purpose yards.

The Texas defense played a fantastic game with six tackles for losses and a pair of sacks on Young. The ‘Horns also nearly had another sack and a safety on Young in the third quarter that would have turned the game around, but he was knocked down and ruled a pass incomplete. Linebacker Jaylan Ford played a fantastic game with 10 tackles and two tackles for loss.

Young completed 27 of 39 passes for 213 yards, conceding a huge fourth-quarter touchdown and the field goal with 10 seconds left. Its pass catchers took over the course of the stretch, but one of the reasons Alabama struggled for most of the game was due to drops in this unit, which only amassed three receptions for 14 yards early in the fourth quarter.

Let’s break down the takeaways from Saturday’s Week 2 thriller in Austin.

Missed opportunities for Texas

The Longhorns were the better team in this game, but a few missed plays and decisions ultimately tipped the result. Texas entered the red zone five times against Alabama’s highly touted defense, but only one of those drives ended in a touchdown. Perhaps most disheartening was settling for a field goal on the fourth and fourth yards from the 6-yard line in the fourth quarter. Alabama went and converted a 75-yard touchdown 11 plays later to take a 17-16 lead.

That’s not all. A major umpiring swing will undoubtedly live long in the minds of Texas fans. With Alabama playing in the shadow of their own goal posts, Texas defensive lineman T’Vondre Sweat appeared to fire Young for a safety. However, shocking targeting and a rough call from the setter wiped him out. The plays were called off in review, but the play was ruled an incomplete pass. These two points were critical in a one-point affair.

All in all, there were moments that could have clinched the game. Ewers had Worthy for a wide-open touchdown pass on the first drive of the game that fell off the wide receiver. Cornerback Ryan Watts also appeared to have a sealing sack on Young in the fourth quarter, but he went too high and Young converted it into a 19-yard run to help set up the eventual field goal.

If anything changes, Texas probably wins the game. The Longhorns, however, couldn’t capitalize.

Alabama wide receiver woes

When Alabama wide receivers Jameson Williams and John Metchie III came out before last year’s College Football Playoff National Championship, the Crimson Tide struggled to find replacements. Despite an offseason of development and the addition of a pair of big-name transfers, those issues don’t seem to be resolved.

Young put up some Heisman-like moments down the stretch, but no receiver on the roster finished with more than 39 receiving yards on the day. Running back Jahmyr Gibbs was easily the team’s top target with 74 receiving yards and a touchdown.

For years, Alabama has had some of the best halls in college football. Despite high-level recruiting, none of the receivers look ready for prime time. If the receiver room doesn’t improve, Alabama isn’t a true national title contender.

The Longhorns’ defense is legit

Alabama was completely healthy and exhausted the same unit that lost 55 points to Utah State a week ago. Outside of an 81-yard run by Tide running back Jase McClellan, the Longhorns were fully in place for the time being in the first test of Year 2 for coach Steve Sarkisian.

Pete Kwiatkowski’s defense limited Young to just 5.5 yards per pass attempt and no passes over 23 yards. The defensive front actually generated a decent pass rush and the offensive linemen jumped in to anticipate blitzes.

Outside of rushing, the Texas defense limited Alabama to just 4.7 yards per play. Special credit goes to Jaylan Ford and cornerback Anthony Cook, who both had outstanding performances. If Ford’s growth is sustainable, this unit will look very different. Credit Kwiatkowski and linebackers coach Jeff Choate for finding ways to grow after a tough first season.

College Kickers!

Complaining about “college kickers” has become a rite of passage in college football, but both programs owe their kickers a bowl of fruit after sensational performances. There will be a lot of talk about Alabama kicker Will Reichard’s 33 yards with 10 seconds left, but that only scratches the surface.

Reichard hit a booming 52 yards in the first half of the game to give Alabama a 3-0 lead and salvage a shaky first drive. It ultimately made a huge difference. On the other end, Texas freshman kicker Bert Auburn scored four field goals, including a gutsy 49-yarder that looked like a winner. He missed one in the first half, but it was more the result of a bad shot. Texas wouldn’t have been able to pull off the upset without Auburn’s impressive efforts.

The ewers hype is deserved

He may have only played one quarter, but Ewers looked exactly like the No. 1 quarterback rookie in the nation in his first real start. Ewers threw for 134 yards on just 12 pass attempts and did a sensational job of reacting and throwing under pressure.

In fact, only one of Ewers’ passes was truly off the mark. He should have had 35 more yards after throwing a perfect pass to Worthy that was given up for a touchdown. Another pass just wasn’t caught in traffic. Either way, 11.2 yards per pass attempt and 134 yards in 15 minutes of action is unbelievable.

If Ewers stays healthy, Texas wins this game. However, the Longhorns have just one more quarterback injury against Alabama to add to the list of painful memories. Given that Ewers’ injury is just a sprained collarbone, Texas fans should be thrilled that he can hopefully come back and play some meaningful games in 2022.

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