Despite the final result, the Texas offense left a lot to be desired on Saturday. Out of the 42 points scored, 7 were off a defensive touchdown and several more scores were set up by the defense giving the offense excellent field position. Let’s take a look at how the offense graded out:
Shane Buechele started his 3rd straight game and looked well on his way to a monster game after hitting Lorenzo Joe for a 49 yard touchdown on the first play of the game. But following the opening play touchdown, it was another rough game for the sophomore. Buechele finished the game 22 of 32 for 249 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception. It was particularly concerning to see some questionable decision making by Buechele, especially in the second half. In addition to his lone interception, he almost gifted Kansas a pick 6 by throwing the ball directly to Dorance Armstrong, who somehow dropped it. I am not sure if it is poor play from the receivers unit or Buechele, but #7 is forced to take sacks far too often, even when the protection holds up for a few seconds.
Sam Ehlinger barely broke a sweat in his two plays in the first quarter, tossing a wide open touchdown pass to Cade Brewer. Ehlinger then sat on the bench until late in the 4th quarter when he got some snaps with the game outcome decided. The coaches seem to be taking things slowly with Ehlinger returning from a concussion, but the reigns may need to come off soon. If Ehlinger plays like he did when he was the starter, he seems to be the best option at the quarterback position to help Texas get their 6th win and a bowl berth.
The youth movement at the running back position continued with Daniel Young leading the unit in carries with 21 carries for 67 yards. I was impressed with the shiftiness and balance Young displayed. Despite limited help from the blocking in front of him, Young rarely goes down on first contact and looks to be the most polished back on the roster even as a freshman.
Toneil Carter took his first carry 23 yards for a touchdown, showing great burst and cutting ability in the open field. His fumble on a swing pass is something that simply can not happen. If he can take better care of the football and continue to show the elusiveness and speed he has been, his playing time will only increase.
One of the big stories coming out of the game was the transition of Chris Warren to H-Back. Warren had a mixed bag of results at his new position. His physicality as a blocker will be the key to success. He looked lost on a few plays and blocked air, but looked like a willing blocker other times. The transition will take time, and getting his feet wet against Kansas was a good idea by the coaches. Warren was able to also punch in a 1 yard rushing touchdown in the 4th quarter that essentially put the game out of reach.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Lorenzo Joe stepped in a big way on Saturday. The senior has had steady production for most of the season and stepped up multiple times against the Jayhawks when Texas needed a play. He also had several nice blocks and is a player you never have to worry about giving max effort. Collin Johnson had a productive day, collecting 63 yards on 6 receptions. The offense will need him to step up even more with the season ending injury Dorian Leonard suffered. Lil’ Jordan Humphrey had a good game, including another hurdle over a defender and a rushing touchdown. It was good to see Texas go back to the wildcat package that worked well against Maryland, with Humphrey taking direct snaps. John Burt continues to show improved hands and still possess great speed. The unit of a whole needs to improve on blocking screens. Many continue to struggle engaging a man and not letting him get around to the ball carrier.
Kendall Moore played more than he had in recent weeks. Texas opted to get the graduate transfer in to help protect Buechele and try to open up more holes in the running game. Cade Brewer continued to log a lot of snaps and caught his only pass for a 8 yard touchdown.
I stated in my preview and score prediction that I worried about the Texas offensive line blocking Dorance Armstrong and Daniel Wise. Well, the duo had their way with the Texas offensive line for most of the game. There are too many times when defensive players flash in front of an offensive lineman’s face and they are not even touched. The unit continues to get very limited push on the interior on run plays and most yards being gained are from the running back breaking tackles. One of the ways to help out a quarterback behind a struggling line is to move the pocket, but there are several lineman who do not have the ability to move laterally and block someone at the same time.
The return of Connor Williams should help the unit significantly, but the unit still had their struggles even with the All-American holding down the left tackle spot. With the way the unit is playing now, even slightly below average play the rest of the way would be improvement and likely mean improved offensive production.
Pass Block Grade: F
Run Block Grade: D+
Offensive Play Calling
The abandonment of Carter and Young after they torched Kansas on a drive that gave Texas a 21-7 was a head scratcher. The personnel changes in the Wildcat package looked much needed and they seem to slowly but surely be figuring out the limitations of their personnel. It is unrealistic to expect huge changes so far into the season, but the offensive coaches seem at least open to adjusting the offense to help out a struggling running game and offensive line. The QB sweep play with Buechele worked this week, but running that play with the current state of the offensive line is asking for trouble. The short passing game and screen game seemed to be used appropriately. It is slightly disappointing that Texas could not surpass the 400 yard mark against a defense of Kansas’ caliber. With the return of Connor Williams and potentially Sam Ehlinger, the West Virginia and Texas Tech games will serve as a good measuring stick to where Texas sits on offense heading into the off season.