The Longhorns continuously stubbed their toe when Rice faced third downs, especially in the first half.
The Owls converted 8-of-12 third downs in the first half, including four on its second scoring drive, which spanned 87 yards on 16 plays and took 6:49 off the clock. And that’s after Rice could not convert on its first three 3rd downs.
“We just had to get off the field on third down,” Duke Thomas said. “Basically, when it gets down to it you got to tackle and play within the defense. We'll see on tape maybe, they converted third downs because we weren't doing our job. We had to get our side in man coverage, get to our drops in our zone coverage. When we start doing those things, we can get it done on third down and shorten the field for our offense.”
What makes it most alarming is the length that Rice had to go to keep its drives alive. Four of the Owls’ third down completions came with Rice needing 8-or-more yards.
Charlie Strong and Vance Bedford both mentioned Texas needing to get off the field on third downs for numerous reasons. This has to be a chief concern for the coaching staff moving forward.
“Well, the thing I said on third down is we just missed so many sacks,” Strong said. “I think the one time we had four guys that hit [Driphus Jackson] and he got away from us down here. If you remember one time on their sideline, [Ed] Freeman's got him pinned, that would have got us there. And then he got away from us there.”