Junior linebacker Keenan Robinson had 19 tackles, using his athleticism to make plays all over the field. But junior Emmanuel Acho might have had the better game, making 17 stops, five of which were in the backfield and stripping Landry Jones as a sack.
The game demonstrated what great talent the Longhorns have at the position. Robinson, a great athlete, is a big-time playmaker on the weak side. One of the leading candidates for All-Big 12, Robinson routinely makes jaw-dropping plays, showing great speed and overall athleticism. He leads Texas with 50 tackles.
Acho is the unit's most versatile player, someone who started the first four games of the season at middle linebacker before shifting to SAM against Oklahoma when Texas needed someone who could play in space. Acho is listed on the depth chart at all three linebacking positions, depending on where Texas needs him the most. Where Texas goes after those two depends on the other team's personnel.
Dravannti Johnson excels at holding up on the line of scrimmage at SAM and showcases some pass rush ability. He doesn't have any sacks this season, but has three quarterback hurries, two of which led to big plays against Texas Tech.
When Texas needs Acho to play in space at SAM, the Longhorns employ Jared Norton and Dustin Earnest. Earnest earned the start against Oklahoma, while Norton, a masher against the run, made six tackles in the game. After returning from an injury, Norton has excelled between the tackles. Earnest is a smart and assignment-sound player.
Between the three of them, Johnson, Earnest and Norton have 30 tackles on the year.
Jordan Hicks, Texas's prize linebacker recruit out of Ohio, has yet to truly break into the loaded group. He's another great athlete and has five tackles on special teams.
Overall Grade: B+
The linebacker position struggled at times against UCLA, but has been a pretty strong group overall. The most-used starting group of Robinson, Acho and Johnson is all made up of underclassmen. Robinson and Acho are juniors, while Johnson is just a sophomore. There's a lot to like here, from speed and athleticism to versatility and size. The only thing missing is a truly elite pass rusher, though the linebackers have shown an ability to get to the passer.