Winning is fun. Yay! But that was a really bad football team. Eight losses last season, including a 34-pointer to Iowa State – a team that even Texas beat by three scores. Their offense had several chances to put up points through the air, as you’ll see, but their defense was just trash. Let’s do this quickly and then turn our focus to USC.
Technically a Shutout, but…
San Jose State’s first near-scoring opportunity came on the first play of their second possession.
Kris Boyd is a great athlete but still not a great football player. This is the second week he’s been picked on. On this play, Texas was in Cover 3, with Boyd responsible for a deep third of the field. Alternatively, he could bite on a pump fake and get smoked by a former low 3-star wide receiver (who, to be fair, was clocked at 4.49 in high school). Watch the quarterback’s non-throwing hand – it doesn’t come off the ball. That’s typically what defensive backs are taught to look for before they break on a throw. Boyd is a boom-or-bust player. He hasn’t had many booms yet this season, but he will.
Brandon Jones is another guy who has been and will continue to be targeted by opposing offenses. Texas is in its “2-4-5” even front that we saw in the spring game, and is running a fire zone blitz. In simple terms, Jones is responsible for the second receiver from the sideline after the receivers have completed their release. That last part matters. At the snap, the second receiver from the sideline (or No. 2) is the slot receiver, but then he and the tight end (No. 3) cross each other. The tight end becomes the No. 2, and the slot the No. 3. The No. 3 receiver is the responsibility of the hook defender, in this case Gary Johnson. But Jones chases the slot inside, which – if the tight end had caught the ball – would have forced Boyd to attempt an open-field tackle on a player who is four inches taller and 53 pounds heavier than him. Five will get you 10 that he misses that tackle.
This is the very next play. Texas again brings pressure from the field but this time with man coverage behind it. When the running back releases on a route, Anthony Wheeler has to peel off his blitz and run with him. That is his job. It is NOT Malik Jefferson’s job. Malik should be bouncing in the middle, watching the quarterback and in prime position to recognize the wave of offensive linemen setting up a screen in front of him. An engagement there likely forces the receiver to bend his path back toward Naashon Hughes, but instead he has space to split the difference between Hughes and Malcolm Roach. Had the runner not slipped, I have confidence in DeShon Elliott to make this tackle and prevent the score, but it should still have been 1st & Goal.
The whatever-San-Jose-State’s-mascot-ises split two receivers to the left and put a tight end and wing on the right. The Longhorns bring Holton Hill from the boundary and run Cover 2 behind it, with Elliott assuming Hill’s flat responsibilities (which, schematically, is pretty cool). The tight end runs a curl route and the wing runs a fade. Elliott will trail the fade with the expectation that the deep safety, Jones, is patrolling the half of the field behind him. Jones, however, was jumping the curl route from literally 12 yards away. That route isn’t Jones’ problem until the ball’s thrown. He left Elliott hanging, and they’re fortunate that Mr. 4.49 didn’t bring his hands to Austin. Otherwise, it very well could have been tied at 21 at the half.
Your Leading Scorer
Who had Hill as the team’s leader scorer after week two?
Texas rushes three, has Johnson spy the quarterback and runs
Quarter-Quarter-Half Cover 3 Cloud* on the back end. Hill, on the “Half” (Cover 2) side of the coverage side where the coverage is rotating, trails the No. 1 receiver, with Jones over the top. The quarterback tries to fit the ball into what I hope was a tight window (I can’t see Jones) but the ball flutters and dies. Hill and his blockers do the rest.
The scoring plays were efficient and pretty boring, but I at least got some pleasure out of seeing power and other gap-scheme runs. They were sorely missed against Maryland.
There’s so much going on in this play that I couldn’t diagram everything. The playside of the offensive line blocks down and washes the defense inside, leaving just a few stragglers for the H-back, running back and backside guard to clean up. There’s some confusion in the defense about who should fit where – or San Jose State’s 193-pound safety wanted no part of 305-pound Jake McMillon. A couple of things that wouldn’t fit in the diagram: right tackle Denzel Okafor needs to chip the edge rusher who nearly makes the stop in the backfield. Watch Connor Williams on the next play to see what it should look like. And I like what Corby Meekins has tight end Kendall Moore doing – he locks up one linebacker for a one-count before releasing and engaging the next defender – but he should probably focus on sticking with one guy per play, or at least hold the block for a two-count. Moore impressed me when I noticed him. Don’t get used to this, though; the line won’t dominate many other teams this easily. Even…even Garrett Gray stuffed his defender.
And even Kyle Porter found the end zone! (It’s time for Daniel Young and Toneil Carter to get more reps.) He ran better later in the game, but this was a weak opponent and Texas needs production in all four quarters. He’s running like he’s waiting to go down. But back to the play – SJSU overplays the jet sweep action and leaves a poor linebacker and the backside cornerback alone against Patrick Vahe and Porter. The linebacker just stands there, becoming an organic blocking sled for Vahe to slam into. Really bad defense.
Jerrod Heard scored on power too. It doesn’t get much easier. I’m not sure which play SJSU was worried about but it wasn’t the right one. The defenders are slow to react and overpursue when they do. I’d like to see Heard NOT run into the back of his damn blocker; it’s not like he didn’t have time to see how the block was unfolding and adjust. Notice Moore helping to wall off the defense again (it didn’t look hard).
In the Zone
The zone run plays that were ineffective last week were productive this week, especially later in the game when SJSU was worn out.
Texas’ first score came on Q outside zone. This is another clip that illustrates how bad SJSU was. The backside of the play gets cut off, including a nose tackle who was reached by the backside guard. SJSU caps it off with a pitiful effort from the backside defensive end. There’s not much else to say or learn about this one.
SJSU has loaded the box, and the safety isn’t falling for that jet sweep crap again. They were going to have two guys (a linebacker and the safety) unblocked anyway because of numbers and the front, but Patrick Hudson loses his footing and leaves a second linebacker unblocked. This play should have gone nowhere, but they lost track of Warren. I like the linebacker who gives up and just starts spanking Moore the best.
Spartans to Trojans
That’s enough of that. I’ve read exactly nothing about USC and watched only their opener against Western Michigan, so all I can tell you is what the video said. Their defense should be familiar to the offense, since they’ve practiced against the 2-4-5 look. Outside linebacker #45** was the first guy who jumped out. He’s like a bigger Breckyn Hager with better football instincts. Their insider linebacker play got way better in the second half, which I soon figured out was because #35 returned from suspension. The only defensive lineman who consistently caught my eye was #94, so that makes me feel a little bit better about Texas’ chances of at least sustaining plays for more than three seconds. Their secondary looks like it’s in fast-forward; everyone looked good, but they weren’t challenged very often (only 23 total pass attempts).
I didn’t have time to watch the whole game on offense, but you all know Roland Jones. He’s terrifying and angry, so that should be fun. Repeat for Sam Darnold. I’m hoping to find a weak spot in their offensive line when I watch the Stanford game.
The only positives I’ve got are that this Texas squad has had a habit the past two years of hanging with highly ranked teams (2-2 straight up, 3-1 against the spread as double-digit underdogs), and Tom Herman has the same reputation, but better.
Now, how many comments can we go before we start talking about the quarterbacks?
* I saw the all-22 shot of the play. It was Cover 3 Cloud, not Quarter-Quarter-Half. The same principles apply: Hill trailing, Jones over the top. The window was larger than you’d like.
** @ShotgunSpr tweeted that #45 (Porter Gustin) will have an MRI on his shoulder Sunday night.
Commitment Spotlight: Tyler Owens
Texas has landed a commitment from highly coveted safety Tyler Owens. What does he bring to Todd Orlando’s defense?
Following the “Stars at Night” camp in July, Texas extended several offers to prospects who impressed the coaches throughout the evening. One of those offers went to 2019 Plano East safety Tyler Owens, who won the fastest man competition. The Longhorns quickly became the front runner in his recruitment, and the intriguing prospect ultimately chose to shut down his recruitment and pledge to Texas.
Owens joins a secondary class that already has commitments from Mayfield (CA) S Chris Adimora, Grayson (GA) CB Kenyatta Watson II and Alvin CB Marques Caldwell. The 6’2, 202 pounder currently ranks as the 44th best safety in the country and the 631st player overall, according to the 247sports composite rankings. Owens chose the Longhorns over offers from 14 other schools, including Baylor, Houston, Nebraska and UCLA.
Name: Tyler Owns
High School: Plano East
City & State: Plano, Texas
40-yard time: 4.48
No stats available.
- Very reliable tackler. Wraps up and takes good angles to the ball carrier. Good technique.
- Has a knack for squaring ball carriers up and laying some pretty solid hits.
- While his straight line speed isn’t as noticeable as it may be when he is in shorts, Owens definitely shows the ability to stick his foot in the ground and get downhill quickly.
- Shows a good football IQ. Diagnoses plays well and knows where to be on the field.
- Very good special teams player. Uses his speed to get down the field on kickoffs and always seems to find the ball.
- Played very good competition. Had highlights against 6A state champion Highland Park and plays in the same district as state powerhouse Allen.
- Needs to continue to develop his ball skills. Shows the ability to defend the pass, but will need to work on getting his head around and finding the ball.
- Positional fit. Owens best fit could be at linebacker after he spends a season or two in a college strength and conditioning program.
- Tests extremely well, but you don’t see those athletic traits translating much to his tape.
- Seems a little stiff on tape, so that will be something to take monitor when his senior tape comes out. Could factor in to where he projects long-term.
When you turn on the film for Owens, the first thing to stick out is how projectable he is. He could easily add weight and spin down to linebacker, which wouldn’t be bad at all considering his reliability as a tackler and how well he defends the run. It is easy to see why Todd Orlando and Craig Naivar like Owens. He has a nose for the football and his athleticism will allow him to be utilized in multiple ways. 2018 signee DeMarvion Overshown had a similar build to Owens coming out of Arp (6’3, 200 pounds), and there are definitely some similarities in the way the two play.
If Owens sticks at safety, he will need to continue to work on defending the pass. His speed helps him tremendously when tracking down the ball in the air, but there will be a learning curve as he adjusts to the passing game at the college level. Owens possesses great athleticism, as seen by his testing numbers, but it is a bit concerning that you don’t see that explosiveness and twitch on tape much. Is he a combine warrior or does he just need more time in the incubator to unlock his potential? It will be interesting to see what the senior film beholds because it could be a solid indicator for what his development curve is.
After hearing how Owens performed in the camp setting and watching his film, there should not be any doubts about whether he is a take for Texas. The loaded 2018 defensive back class should allow almost all the 2019 signees in the secondary to be eased into action. Owens has a very high ceiling, and the Texas coaching staff feels confident they can tap into his potential.
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: TCU
The Longhorns had many positives and some negatives to analyze after a big win over TCU on Saturday
For the second straight week, Texas physically outplayed a ranked opponent. The Longhorns opened Big 12 play with a 31-16 win over TCU. Similar to last week, the win featured a lot of good and not a lot of bad, but let’s take a look at some takeaways from an impressive victory over the Horned Frogs:
Entering Saturday’s contest, there were a lot of questions about how the Texas secondary would hold up against a TCU passing attack that featured several talented playmakers. The Longhorns defensive backs ended up surrendering only 197 passing yards to Shawn Robinson, and came away with three interceptions. Kris Boyd, Brandon Jones, Caden Sterns and Devante Davis all had big moments. Sterns in particular continues to shine as a freshman, recording both interceptions and playing well in run support. Boyd and Davis each had a few plays they would like to forget, but the duo played well overall.
It is no secret that Collin Johnson has the skill set to take over games at the receiver position, but #9 turned in one of his most memorable performances in a Texas uniform. Johnson recorded his 3rd 100+ yard game in his career, finishing the night with 7 catches for 124 yards and a touchdown. In addition to his big game catching the ball, Johnson also had a huge block to help spring Lil’Jordan Humphrey’s game-clinching 38-yard touchdown reception in the 4th quarter.
I believe I can flyyy 🎶
COLLIN. JOHNSON. EVERYBODY. pic.twitter.com/va9OYXYlhS
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) September 22, 2018
Johnson’s talent has never been in question, but Saturday’s performance proves that the junior can be a matchup nightmare and has what it takes to be Sam Ehlinger’s #1 receiver.
For the third consecutive game, Sam Ehlinger played a turnover-free game. Don’t look now, but the sophomore has now thrown 8 touchdown passes compared to just 2 interceptions. Tom Herman commented after the game that a lot of Ehlinger’s progress is due to the offensive staff calling plays he is comfortable with and not asking him to do too much. There may not be a play that describes Ehlinger’s development more than his touchdown pass to Humphrey, where Ehlinger stood in the pocket, thought about bailing, but took a few steps back before finding Humphrey over the middle of the field.
— Stadium (@WatchStadium) September 23, 2018
In 3 of the 4 games for the Longhorns this season, their opponent has scored on their first possession. Yesterday, the Horned Frogs drove down the field with relative ease before having to settle for 46-yard field goal by Jonathan Song. Although the sample size is still relatively small, the Texas defense needs to do a better job of settling down early in games and not letting their opponents draw first blood.
Short Yardage Situations
Facing a 4th and 1 in the second quarter, Texas did something that I haven’t seen since 2016: playing under center. The result? A pitch play on the short side of the field to Daniel Young that resulted in the loss of a yard. In real time, I agreed with the decision to go for it, but the play call and personnel that matched it were very questionable. It didn’t end up hurting Texas in the long run, but the offensive coaching staff needs to do a better job of sticking with what makes sense.
A week after nailing all 3 of his field goal attempts, Cameron Dicker came back down to Earth by making only 1 of 3 field goals, missing very badly on his final attempt. Ryan Bujcevski averaged 39 yards on 5 punt attempts, but it is obvious that Tom Herman does not have a ton of confidence in his punter. Herman chose not to re-kick following an offsides penalty on a punt, likely because he didn’t want to risk a possible block or a shank from the freshman. D’Shawn Jamison made a mistake on during a kickoff return, bringing out a kick that went 3 yards into the endzone, resulting in a short return and a holding penalty, forcing Texas to start a drive at their own 5.
Special teams mistakes have not cost Texas a game to this point in the year, but if the Longhorns plan on competing for a Big 12 title, they must make corrections.
Texas drops #17 TCU 31-16
Tom Herman got his first signature win over Gary Patterson and TCU on Saturday
The Texas Longhorns entered Saturday’s game looking to put an end to a nasty trend of losing to TCU — a team they have historically had their way with. Recent history has proven this task difficult, with TCU winning five of six since joining the Big 12, including four straight against the Longhorns. As a Big 12 member, TCU has a perfect 3-0 record in Austin. On Saturday afternoon, the Longhorns emphatically ended the losing streak to Gary Patterson and TCU in front of 95,124 fans, proving they are a legitimate contender for the Big 12 Championship this season.
TCU began on offense after Texas won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. The Horned Frogs worked quickly behind quarterback Shawn Robinson, marching 46 yards on 8 plays. The drive was capped with a 46-yard field goal by Jonathan Song which gave TCU an early 3-0 lead over Texas.
Texas failed to answer Songs’s field goal on their first offensive possession, with freshman kicker Cameron Dicker missing his first field goal of the season on a 42-yard attempt.
The Longhorns would make up for it on their next possession, with quarterback Sam Ehlinger engineering a 65-yard scoring drive which was capped off by a five yard touchdown run by Tre Watson. Texas led TCU 7-3 at the 4:09 mark of the quarter, their first lead over the Horned Frogs in four years.
After two rushing plays on the next possession, Robinson would complete a 50-yard pass to Jalen Reagor, setting TCU up for a first and goal at the Texas 4 yard line. The Texas defense held steady, forcing the Frogs to settle for a 23-yard field goal, Jonathan Song’s second of the day.
The Longhorns maintained a 7-6 lead after one quarter was in the books.
Cameron Dicker’s 34-yard field goal represented the first points of the second quarter, extending Texas’ lead to 10-6 over TCU.
TCU would take a 13-10 lead into the locker room at the half, on a 1-yard touchdown pass from Robinson to Jalen Reagor.
Texas started the third quarter on offense but quickly went three-and-out. On the next possession Robinson was intercepted by Brandon Jones, but the Longhorns would fail to capitalize.
Song extended the TCU lead to 16-10 at the 8:44 mark, making good on his 3rd field goal of the night, this time from 29 yards out.
Texas regained its lead with less than a minute left in the quarter after Sam Ehlinger found a stretched-out Collin Johnson in the end zone for the score. Texas led TCU 17-16.
On TCU’s next possession, Caden Sterns intercepted Shawn Robinson for the second time on the evening and returned it for a touchdown. After review by the officials, Sterns stepped out of bounds at the TCU 2 yard line. Sam Ehlinger finished the short drive by taking the first down snap and running it in untouched for a touchdown.
Headed to the fourth quarter, Texas held a 24-16 lead over the Horned Frogs.
The fourth quarter belonged all to the Longhorns, who scored a lone touchdown courtesy of Sam Ehlinger to Lil’Jordan Humphrey, and played solid defense en route to a 31-16 win.
Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger threw for 255 yards and two touchdowns in the win and rushed for one touchdown. Collin Johnson led the Longhorns with 124 yards receiving and one touchdown. The Texas offense totaled 367 yards of total offense compared to TCU’s 372.
Cade Sterns and Brandon Jones each had interceptions against TCU quarterback Shawn Robinson, who threw for 197 yards in the loss.
The Longhorns improve to 3-1 overall and are riding a three-game win streak, something they haven’t accomplished since the 2014 season. Additionally, Texas defeated it’s second consecutive ranked opponent in two weeks.
While the win over TCU was important, Tom Herman knows he has a lot of work ahead if his team wishes to leave the Manhattan with a win next Saturday:
“We’re going to celebrate it, enjoy it, and we’re going to wake up tomorrow knowing we got to go on the road for the first time in a month against a Kansas State team that’s always, always tough to handle and especially when they’re playing at home. That is a tough, tough place to play. ”
Texas will travel to Manhattan, Kansas to take on the Kansas State Wildcats next Saturday at 2:30 PM.
- True freshman running back Keaontay Ingram returned to the field against TCU after missing the USC game with a knee injury. Ingram left the game in the first half after suffering a hip pointer. In his postgame presser, Herman said he doesn’t expect Ingram’s injury to be anything long-term.
- Defensive back Jarmarquis Durst sustained a severe shoulder sprain.
- Offensive lineman Calvin Anderson played through some knee issues in the game and will be evaluated on Sunday.
- Texas improved to 3-1 overall and 1-0 in the Big 12 Conference with the win
- The Longhorns are now 3-1 for the first time since 2012
- Saturday’s win marks the first time UT has beaten Top 25 teams in consecutive weeks since 2008
- The Texas defense forced four turnovers in the win
- Collin Johnson’s 100-yard receiving performance marked the second straight season, and seventh time in school history, that a Longhorn receiver has eclipsed the century mark against TCU.
- Sam Ehlinger has 2,893 career passing yards, surpassing his high school coach Todd Dodge’s career passing mark for 15th all-time in school history. Ehlinger also becomes the first Longhorn QB since Colt McCoy in 2008 with at least one passing and one rushing TD in three consecutive games.
Seahorn’s Five Thoughts: TCU
Texas finally ends the Horned Frogs curse
That’s two weeks in a row this team has proved me wrong. Maybe I should just keep picking against them each week. This was a better opponent this week and a much more meaningful game in the grand scheme of things, and this team answered the bell in a big way.
Getting the Purple Monkey (Frog) Off Their Back
TCU has had Texas’ number for several years now and it’s been no secret, especially given how Gary Patterson and his staff have been beating that drum in the ears of recruits. Over the recent years, Texas has been out coached, out schemed, out hustled, and just about anything else you can think of in its matchups with TCU. It seemed like anything that could go wrong would, and things would get ugly quick. That changed today in Austin.
Big hat tip to Todd Orlando and his defense as they found a way to limit the explosive TCU offense to less than 20 points and force Shawn Robinson to turn the ball over several times, including one that led to an offensive touchdown. Orlando’s bunch kept the game tight even with the offense struggling at times, but they got the ball back in their hands and gave them extra opportunities. That leads me to my next point.
Winning the Turnover Battle
Texas didn’t just win the turnover battle today — they dominated it. The Texas safety tandem of Brandon Jones and Caden Sterns combined for all four defensive turnovers today and Sterns almost scored his first collegiate touchdown, but stepped out before he could. We knew going in that Robinson was prone to turning the ball over and he did it three times, with each being very key to swinging the momentum and contributing to what ended up being the final score. Speaking of Sterns, if people didn’t know who he was before today, they probably do now. That kid is a future All-American and a three year player. Enjoy him in Austin while you can.
On the other side of the ball, Sam Ehlinger and the Texas offense took care of the ball and didn’t turn it over to a defense that knows how to force errors. While the offense may have had struggles today, they did not give TCU extra opportunities via the turnover.
Playmakers at WR Come Up Big
It’s impossible to tell the story of this win today without mentioning Collin Johnson and LIl’Jordan Humphrey. The dynamic duo combined for 11 catches for 204 yards and two HUGE touchdowns that gave Texas the lead, and put away the Frogs down the home stretch. Plain and simple, these two came up huge despite having all kinds of coverages rolled their way, and when Ehlinger needed a big play, he went their way. Humphrey and Johnson continue to impress early on and are looking like one of the top receiver duos in the Big 12.
Learning to Finish
Remember how I said previously that this team needs to learn how to finish off quality opponents? Don’t look now, but in back-to-back weeks this Texas team has not only beat a ranked opponent, but has delivered knockout blows and made the teams wave the white flag. Gary Patterson opted to punt with time left on the clock and his team down on the scoreboard. He (and his team) tapped out. They said NO MÁS. With the way TCU has been treating Texas lately, I didn’t think I’d see that with my own eyes any time soon. This team is getting better each week and they have a chance to get another monkey off their back next week in Manhattan. Just a different shade of purple.
Winning last week against USC was huge for recruiting and confidence. This week’s win over TCU is the USC win multipled ten times. This was a win over a conference and in-state rival who has built their brand off of dominating Texas over the past few years, and now you take the shine off that pitch and have a chance to change the momentum. If recruits and opponents weren’t paying attention after last week — they certainly are now. Texas isn’t back, but they are certainly getting better. They should be favored over a struggling Kansas State team next week, but it’s the venue that should frighten everyone. They have a chance to win in Manhattan and put together a 3-game winning streak heading into Dallas. That would make an already big game even bigger.
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