When the line came out for this game I thought it was fairly generous (-33.5) given Texas’ inability to blow teams out with a deficient offense. Early on it looked like the Longhorns were on their way to proving me wrong and running the Jayhawks out of DKR, but with many things regarding this team, it didn’t go according to plan.
After a fast and promising start, the offense predictably begin to sputter and went stagnant for long periods of time. The defense also conceded a couple of long touchdown drives and gave up a garbage time score with little resistance. It’s a win for Texas, but it was far from pretty, and there are few things in particular that frustrated me as the game unfolded that I will get into.
With that said lets get into my thoughts following the win over the Jayhawks.
Wins are wins, but …
I’m sure it felt good for the players and coaches to get this win after the debacle in Lawrence in 2016. While it’s great that order was restored in a sense with tonight’s victory, these are games that Texas is not only expected to win, but expected to win by a large margin (without any kind of suspense to it).
Despite leading for the entire game, there were several instances where Kansas was close to making it a ball game and the Longhorns seemingly couldn’t get out of their own way. It took some heroic efforts in some cases and Kansas making errors of their own for Texas to maintain control of this one and that was with KU’s quarterback serving several turnovers on a platter and nearly throwing a couple more.
I hate to nitpick after a win like this, but Kansas is not a good football team and there were stretches where it looked and felt like they were outplaying Texas. Texas may have won the game, but this is one I feel like will leave a bad taste in their mouths – all things considered.
There’s no rhyme or reason to what Texas does offensively
We are in the home stretch of the season now and I still can’t tell you what Texas’ identity is on offensive and each week I keep trying to figure out what the offensive staff and play callers are seeing and doing up in the booth during games. For instance, it was clear that Daniel Young and Toneil Carter were rolling and Kansas was having a hard time stopping them. So what do the offensive brains do in the booth do? They move away from both of them for long stretches and start airing the ball out. I just don’t understand it.
I get that Carter put the ball on the deck and I know ball security is important, but at this point in the season there is no reason for the staff not to be getting both young backs as many carries as possible. When you’ve struggled mightily to get a consistent run game all year it makes absolutely no sense to abandon it when you finally have it working.
Another thing that annoyed me was the random usage of Sam Ehlinger tonight. What was the point of playing him? You randomly inserted him into the lineup early on in the red zone for the touchdown pass to Cade Brewer, then we don’t see him again until garbage minutes take over when the game is finally in control.
So Ehlinger was healthy enough to come in early in the game to take some meaningful snaps, but he wasn’t when the offense started sputtering for stretches? My first thought when we saw him briefly was that the coaches were trying to preserve his health, but if that was the case then why insert him when you did for the touchdown pass? I would love to get some clarity on this, but I’m sure we would get coach speak and not a real answer.
I’m offended by how bad the offensive line is at times
As a former offensive lineman, it’s been painful to watch the Texas offensive line perform this year. It doesn’t matter what kind of protection the offensive coaches setup, they find ways to bust it or allow pressure. I saw Zach Shackleford let a late blitzer run right past him in pass protection tonight when he wasn’t even locked up on anyone. I saw the offensive line allow Buechele to be pressured and hit on multiple occasions on sprint outs, which are plays designed to move the pocket and help your offensive line when they struggle with regular drop back protections.
It gets better though. How many times did we hear the broadcast mention the offensive line allowing pressures on max protections when there were only two receivers going out in routes? It happened at least three times unless I’m not remembering things, and if that’s the case it’s embarrassing as hell for that unit. If you can’t protect your quarterback in max protection then you as a unit need to take a very long look in the mirror because there isn’t much more your coordinator can do to help you out.
I feel like it has become a weekly occurrence for me to witness number two on defense doing something that makes me talk about him in a negative light. I hate singling him out because I think he has the tools to be a great player, but I need both hands at this point for the miscalculations Boyd has racked up this season.
Whether it is 15 yard penalties, mental lapses, plays left unmade, or a fumble on special teams, Boyd finds a way to make mistakes that hurt the team. The unfortunate part is that he is going to be under the microscope even more now with Holton Hill being suspended for the rest of the season. There’s no way around putting him out there right now and your options behind him either aren’t ready or much better.
Antwuan Davis and Jason Hall stepped up
I want to end this on a positive note, so I’m going to highlight the play of two seniors that deserve it. Both Davis and Hall haven’t played a bunch this year, but they both made the most of their opportunities this evening in DKR. Davis alone reeled in two interceptions (returned one for a touchdown) and also recovered a muffed punt, while Hall also picked off Carter Stanley and dished out some big hits that made Longhorns remember why they were excited about him early on his career.
The chances for these two have been few and far between, but they are at least making the most of them and they definitely put their team in a much better position to win this one tonight. Here’s hoping they have two more games like tonight because they will need them against West Virginia and Texas Tech.
The Longhorns are now sitting at 5-5 and need a win over the Mountaineers on the road or Red Raiders at home to become bowl eligible. Neither are going to be layups and both teams are capable of putting up crooked numbers on offense. This team is going to have to leave it all on the field these final two weeks or they are looking at their third straight bowl-less season.
I can’t believe I just typed that.
Bring on the Mountaineers.