Texas held Kansas State to 140 yards rushing and DeShon Elliott intercepted quarterback Jesse Ertz en route to a 40-34 victory over the Wildcats in double overtime. The Longhorns currently boast the 42nd best defense amongst FBS teams and the 17th best, nationally, in rushing defense.
Let’s take a look at how Todd Orlando’s unit performed on Saturday against Bull Snyder’s Wildcats.
Texas got huge games up front from Malcolm Roach and Charles Omenihu. With Chris Nelson not registering a snap, the duo was asked to play a lot. Roach tallied 6 tackles and a sack, while Omenihu had 4 tackles with one tackle for loss. Both played very solid against the run and I continue to be impressed with the pass rush skills they are demonstrating. Poona Ford had a solid game in the middle and continues to be rock-solid up front. Gerald Wilbon and Taquon Graham saw snaps in backup roles, but there is a noticeable drop off in disruption when they are in the game.
Overall, the defensive line had a good game and did their jobs. A lot of the mistakes happened behind them. This is a completely different unit than a season ago and it has been fun to watch them become the strength of the defense.
Let’s start with the good. Malik Jefferson is playing at a very high level and is making plays all over the field. Jefferson finished with 10 tackles, and 2 tackles for loss to go along with .5 sack.
Now for the bad.
Aside from Jefferson, Texas does not have many linebackers that can cover receivers. Todd Orlando entrusted linebackers to help cover Dalton Schoen and it went poorly. After a first half of playing solidly against the run and keeping containment, it was a complete 180 in the second half. I feared coming into the game that facing a true dual-threat QB would revert the linebacker play to how they looked against Maryland, and that’s what the second half ended up looking like. Once Alex Delton entered the game, the Wildcats ran the same 2 or 3 plays to perfection over and over. Anthony Wheeler repeatedly chose wrong gaps and Naashon Hughes got sucked out of plays too often. Gary Johnson played well when he got in the game, but he needs to play more against teams who can run the ball like Kansas State.
The linebackers still have a lot of work to do, but the unit was able to get stops in the 4th quarter and overtime to help Texas pull out the W.
The secondary also took a step back on Saturday. Receivers were left wide open frequently. Kris Boyd lost time to Davante Davis in the second half, mainly due to his inability to not bite on pump fakes and not playing under control. Holton Hill played well, but even he had his moments where he got beat. The big head scratcher is PJ Locke. Locke played similarly to the linebackers in the second half and had a tough time defending the run. In pass coverage, Locke was burned by Schoen several times.
Brandon Jones played his best game of the season at safety. He led the team in tackles with 11 and seems to be growing more confident by the week. Deshon Elliott added an interception to his total (5) and played good in run support. Both safeties had some mistakes in the run game, but continually make up for it with athleticism and physicality.
The secondary made Jesse Ertz look too good for a guy who was completing 52% of his passes. With Baker Mayfield and Mason Rudolph awaiting the next 2 games, the secondary will need to play better than it did on Saturday.
Texas is fortunate that shaky field goal kicking did not cost them a win. Joshua Rowland missed a chip shot 27-yarder and then later missed a 45-yarder that would have won the game. Rowland has been all over the place this season, and now the chip shot field goals will be an adventure the remainder of the year.
Michael Dickson was his usual self, averaging 53.3 yards per punt, including a 67 yarder. He’s solid.
Kyle Porter saw action at kick returner and showed good patience along with decent burst. Reggie Hemphill Mapps had a 10 yard punt return and looks to have gained the job back from Armanti Foreman. The return units and coverage units seem be taking steps forward and showing improvement.
Grade (field goal kicking): F
Grade (everything else): B+
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: USC
Texas had many good things to look back on after its victory over USC, but it also had some bad and ugly that needs to be corrected
In one of the most exciting games at DKR in a long time, Texas routed USC 37-14 behind 34 unanswered points after the Longhorns fell behind 14-3. There was a lot of good and not a lot of bad. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest storylines from a win that puts Texas at 2-1 heading into conference play.
Dicker the Kicker
It had to be an uneasy feeling for Tom Herman heading into the 3rd game of the season knowing his freshman kicker had yet to attempt a field goal. Cameron Dicker responded by nailing all three of his field goal attempts against the Trojans, including a pair of 46 yarders. His kicks had good height — something that had been a problem for Texas kickers the previous two seasons. Confidence for a kicker is everything, and Dicker should have plenty heading into Big 12 play.
Texas received several big plays from members of the 2018 signing class. Caden Sterns played another strong game at the safety position, but his biggest moment came when he bursted through the line to block a Chase McGrath field goal in the 3rd quarter, resulting in a scoop and score for Anthony Wheeler. BJ Foster continued to see a lot of action in the dime package and flew around the field. Unfortunately, he was ejected for targeting in the 4th quarter on a huge hit and will miss the first half against TCU.
Josh Moore took advantage of the snaps he received and delivered a huge 27-yard touchdown reception in the back of the end zone to stretch the Texas lead to 23-14 on the first drive of the second half.
Anthony Cook saw some snaps after Davante Davis exited with an injury and looked good.
B.J. Foster with the mean hit. Ejected for targeting. pic.twitter.com/i9fPkFRKEu
— Max Olson (@max_olson) September 16, 2018
Tom Herman made it a point during his postgame availability to point out that the offensive game plan called for Sam Ehlinger to take shots down the field. Herman said they knew going in that the completion percentage probably wouldn’t be high, but they were committed to stretching the USC defense. The game plan worked. Ehlinger finished the night 15 for 33 for 223 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He took care of the football and checked the offense into some good plays. The Longhorns will need Ehlinger to play turnover-free games like Saturday if they hope to be a legitimate Big 12 title contender.
Balanced Rushing Attack
The offensive coaching staff did a good job of finding different ways to effectively run the football. The quarterback sweep that was popular last season was brought up and was the go-to short yardage play. With Keaontay Ingram out with a knee injury, Tre Watson and Daniel Young carried the load at RB. Watson received the majority of the carries early in the game and finished with 18 carries for 72 yards. Young pounded the ball between the tackles and powered his way for 57 yards on 12 carries. The longest run of the night was only 12 yards, but Texas thoroughly controlled the line of scrimmage and the running game benefited.
Leaving Turnovers on the Field
Kris Boyd’s interception served as the lone turnover forced by Texas, but the Longhorns defense failed to take advantage of several more opportunities to force takeaways. On the first drive of the game, Josh Thompson had a golden opportunity for an interception and wasn’t able to deliver. Later in the half, Brandon Jones mistimed his leap going for an interception, resulting in a long pass completion. Boyd also had an opportunity for another pick later in the game go off his hands. These are little things, but the Longhorns need to capitalize on every chance they get.
The Longhorns were extremely lucky to escape Saturday night without having a punt blocked. Ryan Bujcevski needs to show a little more urgency when getting his punts off, and the protection unit can not allow guys to run through the line untouched. It has been an issue since week 1 and it still has not been corrected. Gary Patterson would be more than happy to take advantage of it this week if it is not fixed.
Commitment Spotlight: Derrian Brown
Texas picked up its first running back commitment of the 2019 class
Texas has secured a huge commitment on one of its biggest recruiting weekends in decades. After securing a big win against USC, the Longhorns weekend got even better with the commitment of 4-star running back Derrian Brown.
Although Texas was high on top backs such as Noah Cain and Trey Sanders early on, Brown entered the picture and it was impossible for Texas to pass. Brown is a high-level back that has the potential to leave his mark in Austin. A duo of Keaontay Ingram and Derrian Brown in the backfield is not something Texas fans will be displeased to see.
Name: Derrian Brown
High School: Burford HS
City & State: Buford, Georgia
40-yard time: 4.62
No stats available.
- The first thing you notice about Brown is that he has a sneaky type of quickness about him. For his size he might not be the quickest or fastest back out there, but he certainly has some breakaway speed. His 40-yard dash time supports that.
- With his quickness comes Brown’s fearless nature when hitting the holes. This may attribute to the fact that his offensive line creates decent lanes for him to run through, but there is no denying that Brown hits the gaps hard and without hesitation. This is something you like to see from a back, but also causes mild concerns about their patience and vision.
- Has great ability in the second level. Once Brown gets to that second level on film, there’s no stopping him. He shows great power and lateral quickness to make defenders miss.
- Demonstrates great awareness. Whether it is on the sideline or gaining a couple extra yards for the first down, Brown always knows what he needs to do on every play.
- Football savvy. Shows good instincts and high football IQ.
- The major area Brown needs to improve in is lowering his pad level. He’s able to get away with it in high school, but in college he won’t be able to gain extra yardage after the point of attack.
- Catches the ball out of the backfield with his body rather than his hands. Granted, there is not much film regarding his catching ability, but using his body will result in some drops in college.
- No film on his blocking ability. Brown is a little undersized, so he might have to adjust to the size of college-level linemen.
- Needs to learn to have more patience. It’s not a bad thing that Brown hits the holes at full speed, but it can be a problem when your offensive line doesn’t create holes and you run right into a plugged up gap. Brown needs to learn to be a bit more patient, and will have a great mentor to learn from in Keaontay Ingram in that department.
Brown may not stand out physically on tape, but his play speaks for itself. He demonstrates quickness and a keen ability to get to the second level and beyond. Brown is a very talented 4-star back, and his abilities demonstrate that he will fit in nicely with Tom Herman’s offense. Although Brown clearly has the skillset to succeed in the Big 12, there are some concerns — mainly that the competition he faces in Georgia is not stellar. Other concerns stem from Brown’s lack of patience and limited tape on his pass catching and blocking abilities. All in all, Brown is a fantastic get for the Longhorns, and will be the feature back of Texas’ 2019 class.
After trending negatively for top RB targets Noah Cain and Trey Sanders, Texas needed to come up with an alternative. Bryan Carrington and Derek Chang then identified Brown and Texas offered. After the offer, Texas continued to trend in the right direction. I see a lot of former Texas running back D’onta Foreman in Derrian Brown. His quickness and burst through the gaps has similar characteristics to Foreman’s running style — even though Foreman had much more bulk on his frame. Brown is another great add to the Texas running corps, and gives Stan Drayton the potential to find his next Ezekiel Elliot.
Seahorn’s Five Thoughts: USC
The Longhorns have many positives to look on after dismantling USC for the victory
Texas pulled off a big win tonight on a big stage with a lot of eyes watching. This was a much needed confidence booster heading into conference play, starting with TCU next weekend. Here are my thoughts following the big win:
The Battle in the Trenches
I said earlier that if Texas wanted a chance to win they were going to have to get the run game going, and they did that as they scratched out 160 yards on the ground. It may not be a huge number, but when you go back and look at some of those runs late and see how physical and demoralizing some of them were, you will see the importance. The Texas offensive line really went to work and outmuscled the USC defense down the stretch and it was fun to watch. When you take into account Texas didn’t have Keaontay Ingram tonight it makes it even more impressive for me. Speaking of rushing yards, the Texas defense absolutely suffocated the Trojan rushing effort to the tune of -5 yards. That dog will hunt.
Winning the Third Down Battle
Early on it looked like it was going to be more of the same when it came to executing on third down on both sides of the ball, but then Texas seemed to flip the switch. The Texas offense was able to go 10/19 on third down and also converted their only 4th down attempt. That’s remarkably better than the last two weeks and makes a world of difference. On top of that, the defense held the Trojans to 6/15 on third down and most of those came early before things went downhill. USC was also 0/2 on 4th down, one of which came on a goal line stand. Another instance of Texas showing improvement in an area they struggled in the previous two weeks.
Special Teams are Special Again?
Don’t look now guys, but Texas may have found themselves a kicker — and his name is Dicker. I’ll show myself out in a minute. Seriously though, the freshman from Lake Travis was fantastic tonight, as he went 3/3 on FG attempts (including two from 46 yards out) and made all of his PATs. If Texas can get that kind of consistency out of the freshman it could be a difference maker at some point this year. Speaking of field goals, Caden Sterns blocking USC’s only field goal try of the night resulted in a Texas touchdown the other way and almost brought the house down. That was a dagger in the heart for the Trojans, as they were looking for any sign of hope.
Slow Start, but Strong Finish by the Defense
It did not look pretty early from Todd Orlando’s bunch, as they allowed two early scores, but that ended up being all they gave on the night. The defense really bowed their necks and righted the ship after struggling early and proceeded to get after USC’s young quarterback. The defense pitched a shutout for three quarters and kept their boot firmly on the throat right up until the final snap that resulted in a Charles Omenihu sack-fumble on 4th down. This group stayed in hunt mode and didn’t let up once they had USC and Daniels on the ropes. They deserve plenty of kudos tonight.
Momentum Builder in Recruiting
There were a ton of eyes both in the stadium and on televisions watching this game tonight and eagerly awaiting the outcome, and Texas didn’t disappoint. Tom Herman and his staff needed this win in a major way and not only did they get it, but they got it with style points in prime time. USC may not be the USC of old, but they came in ranked and are still a program that many respect. A win over them will no doubt help efforts on the trail. Imagine being in Austin right now as a blue chip recruit after a win like that. It’s going to be a wild weekend in the ATX and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear recruits singing the staff’s praises come Monday.
Sights from the Texas win over USC
The Texas Longhorns defeated the USC Trojans 37-14 to improve to 2-1 on the season. With the win, Texas joins Ohio State and Michigan as the only FBS programs to reach the 900 all-time win mark. The Longhorns will bring a winning record into conference play for just the second time in six seasons when they face Texas Christian University next Saturday in Austin.
Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger threw for two touchdowns and ran for another in the win,
View photos from the game and pre-game events below.
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