Grading the Texas offense in the 51-41 loss to the Maryland Terrapins
The Terrapins beat the Longhorns 51-41 on Saturday at Darrell K. Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium to open the Tom Herman era on the 40 Acres. Let’s take a look at how the Texas offense graded in the loss to Maryland.
It was an up and down game for Shane Buechele. The sophomore got off to a rocky start in the first quarter by taking a sack inside Texas’ own 2 yard line on the first offensive play for the Longhorns, before throwing an interception on the same drive. Buechele recovered admirably, completing 34-52 passes for 352 yards and 2 touchdowns.
While the accuracy was there on the short and intermediate throws, there was a notable drop off when Texas tried to push the ball down the field. In the run game, the 2nd year starter looked comfortable on designed keepers, but still needs work on knowing when to give himself up and slide. Buechele also looked uncomfortable at times moving around in the pocket when he knew pressure could be coming, particularly during a key fourth down in the 4th quarter when he took a sack. It’s hard to blame the inconsistent offensive play all on Buechele, especially with penalties and offensive line play, but he must be better if Texas has any hopes of getting to the win expectations that many set prior to the season.
Coming into the game, I stated that my biggest question mark for Texas was at the running back position. Nothing I saw against Maryland would change that thought. Texas fell behind early and basically abandoned the running game. Kyle Porter carried the ball 8 times for 21 yards, while Chris Warren added on 6 carries for 31 yards. Each running back had their moments of limited success, but failed to get in a rhythm due to the commitment to the passing game. On the receiving end, Warren also added 2 catches for 19 yards. Warren was also targeted on a key 4th down pass near the goal line, but the Terrapins defended it well and it fell incomplete.
Both RB’s also struggled in pass protection. Kyle Porter was called for an obvious hold that neglected a big play, and there were several plays where the running backs failed to pick up a free rusher.
It was well known that it would be difficult to replace D’onta Foreman, but Texas has to get more production. Expect Daniel Young and Toneil Carter to get some looks in the backfield against San Jose State. Tom Herman stated throughout fall camp that Texas has to be physical and run the ball successfully, and Texas failed to show that the first game of the year.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
9 different receivers and tight ends caught a pass for Texas. Collin Johnson led the way with 7 catches for 125 yards and a touchdown. Maybe the most pleasant surprise of the entire game was the play of Reggie Hemphill-Mapps. The redshirt freshman proved to be a reliable target for Shane Buechele, catching 7 passes for 69 yards and also adding a punt return for a touchdown. Hemphill-Mapps was utilized well in the screen game and on 3rd down. Armanti Foreman, who was buried on the depth chart coming into the game, responded with 5 catches for 57 yards and touchdown. John Burt seemed to have a huge touchdown catch in the 3rd quarter, but it was negated by a penalty. Lil’ Jordan Humphrey was lined up all the over the field, even taking a few direct snaps at quarterback. The sophomore is a matchup problem that offensive coordinator Tim Beck will continue to try to get the ball to.
Garrett Gray was about the only capable body at the tight end. Gray made no positive contributions in the run game, noticeably getting beat on several plays. In the passing game, Gray hauled in 4 catches for 18 yards. It is obvious Texas painfully misses the presence of Andrew Beck, but Gray is about the only capable blocker at tight end the staff can put on the field until week 3, when Reese Leitao’s suspension is up.
It would be an understatement to say that the offensive line had a rough game. Maryland was able to get pressure on Shane Buechele with only rushing 3 or 4 guys. The run blocking struggled when Texas tried to run the ball. Right Tackle will continue to be a major issue. Tristan Nickelson struggled, committing a holding penalty that took points off the board. Shane Buechele got drilled on a free blitzer that ran right by Jake McMillon and the QB spent much the game trying to escape pressure. Even All-American Connor Williams got beat several times in the second half in key situations. It’s hard not to give an F to a unit that allowed 5 sacks and paved the way for a measly 98 yards rushing.