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Offensive Grades: Texas Tech

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John Gutierrez - USA TODAY Sports

Against one of the worst defenses in the Big 12, the Texas offense could only muster 23 points. The numbers do not tell the full story though, as Texas was aided by good field position off of turnovers multiple times. Tom Herman and the offensive staff have a lot to clean up before the bowl game. Let’s take a look at the offensive grades:

Quarterback

Following the first drive of the game, I wondered to myself if everything was beginning to come together for offense with the true freshman Sam Ehlinger behind center. He led Texas to a huge road victory over West Virginia and looked well on his way to carving up Texas Tech. Unfortunately, the first drive of the game ended up being the best one. Ehlinger finished 26 for 47 for 239 yards and one touchdown. His longest pass of the game was his lone touchdown to Armanti Foreman. #11 also added 10 rushes for 35 yards.

Despite all the struggles and inconsistent offensive play, Texas still had an opportunity to run out the clock and escape with a victory. On 3rd and 2 late in the 4th quarter, Ehlinger committed the cardinal sin of a QB and threw across his body while rolling right. The resulting interception set up the Texas Tech go ahead touchdown. His second interception was just as bad, throwing to a receiver standing still bracketed by 2 defenders.

There is still little doubt in my mind that Ehlinger is the best QB on the roster, but the back breaking mistakes have cost Texas several games this year. Whether it’s playing more under control or reigning in the gun-slinger mentality that Ehlinger seems to have, the coaches have to find a way to minimize the mistakes. The loss is not all on the QB, but Texas needs more from the position.

Grade: D

Running Back

Daniel Young paced the backfield with 13 carries for 55 yards and a TD. Young had several chunk plays in the run game and always seems to be creating something out of nothing. If Texas hands the ball to #32 on 3rd and 2 in the 4th quarter then they are probably 7-5 right now. Young is far and away the best back on the roster and should benefit greatly from the bowl practices.

Toneil Carter added 3 carries for 10 yards, but rode the bench after fumbling on his 3rd carry. What little trust he had from the coaches is basically gone after putting the ball on the ground for the 2nd time in 3 games. Kyle Porter had 4 carries for 9 yards and has basically been relegated to a blocking back.

It was slightly discouraging that Texas was not able to get more production from the running back position against a defense like Tech’s.

Grade: D+

Wide Receivers/Tight End

It is ironic that after the rollercoaster season he had, Armanti Foreman led the way for the receivers unit with 5 catches for 78 yards. Foreman showed great effort and grit on his touchdown and contributed several more big plays in the passing game. Foreman and Lil’ Jordan Humphrey are the only receivers who show even a remote idea of how to get open when the quarterback is scrambling. Lorenzo Joe, Collin Johnson, Devin Duvernay and John Burt were all culprits of standing in the exact same spot as their quarterback ran for his life and was eventually forced to throw the ball away. I do not know if it is the coaching or players, but it is something that has been going on all year.

Also, is there any other way to get Jerrod Heard the ball aside from Jet Sweeps?

Kendall Moore contributed a big 16-yard reception on the opening drive of the game, but it was otherwise a quiet game from the senior. Chris Warren had a huge 19-yard reception and played adequately as a blocker.

Grade: D+

Offensive Line

It was not the worst performance by the offensive line, but their play left a lot to be desired. I thought the pass blocking was respectable for most of the game, but respectable for this offensive line is still a failing grade. Jake McMillon and Terrell Cuney still struggle in passing off blockers. Often times it was Sam Ehlinger bailing from the pocket and self pressuring himself.

Texas did not have the success running between the tackles that I thought they would. The interior of the line is just unable to create the running lanes that we saw last year. McMillon had a noticeable whiff on a downfield block on a reverse play, and Derek Kerstetter had his freshman moments trying to seal the edge on several stretch runs to the right side.

Run Block Grade: D
Pass Block Grade: D+

Offensive Play Calling

Everyone is thinking the same things so I am not going to harp on the play calling too much. After having success running counter to the left side of the line against West Virginia, Texas chose to abandon the play yesterday. The QB sweep play had its weekly negative result in a key spot. I was pleasantly surprised with the creativity that was shown on several trick plays, but Texas is unable to run their base offense successfully right now. Trick plays are great, but they are used to supplement tendencies. Right now, trick plays are having to be used because Texas is struggling to find other ways to move the ball. That is not good.

The personnel use at WR and TE continue to be a head scratcher, but it has been that way all year.

Grade: F

Jameson McCausland is originally from Frisco, Texas, where he grew up a Longhorn fan. His two favorite sports are football and baseball, both of which he covers for HornSports. He enjoys spending time with family and friends in his spare time. Jameson is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin.

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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

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Photo via: Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports

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.

The Good

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.

Freshman Contributors

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.

Mistake-free Ehlinger

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.

The Bad

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 Ugly

Punting

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.

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Seahorn’s Five Thoughts: USC

The Longhorns have many positives to look on after dismantling USC for the victory

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Photo via: Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports

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.

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Texas overcomes slow start to throttle #22 USC 37-14

The Longhorns score 34 unanswered points en route to their second win of the season

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Photo via: Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports

Prior to Saturday night’s game between the Texas Longhorns (2-1, 0-0) and the #22 USC Trojans (1-2, 0-1), Texas head coach Tom Herman told his team to “cut it loose and don’t leave anything behind.”  With more than 50 recruits that hold scholarship offers from teams in Power 5 conferences in attendance, the Longhorns and Herman needed a resounding win over a team they were favored to beat. The Longhorns did just that, shaking off an early USC lead to defeat the Trojans 37-14 in front of an energetic crowd of 103,507 at Darrell K. Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium.  The win goes in the record books as #900 for the program, but more importantly Tom Herman and Texas improve to 2-1 on the season.

Ture freshman quarterback JT Daniels marched the Trojans down the field on the opening possession, capping off a 9 play 75-yard drive with a 20-yard touchdown run by sophomore running back Stephen Carr.  The Longhorns answered USC’s score with a 20-yard field goal by true freshman Cameron Dicker, the first of his career at Texas.

Sophomore Vavae Malepeai’s 3-yard touchdown scamper increased the Trojan lead to 14-3 with :33 left in the first quarter — the last time the Trojans would score a point in the contest.

The Longhorns answered USC with a touchdown of their own at the 13:23 mark in the second quarter.  Sam Ehlinger would connect with LJ Humphrey, who out-sprinted a tandem of USC defenders for a 47-yard touchdown, cutting the USC lead to 14-10.

On USC’s next possession, Kris Boyd intercepted JT Daniels, setting the Longhorns up at their own 49 yard-line. Cameron Dicker added his second field goal of the night, this time from 46 yards out. USC led Texas 14-13 with 10:39 left in the quarter.

As the first-half clock expired, Dicker gave Texas its first lead over the Trojans, making good on a 46-yard field goal.

At the half the Longhorns led USC 16-13.

Texas struck early in the third quarter, extending its lead to 23-13 on Joshua Moore’s 27-yard touchdown reception from Sam Ehlinger.

Caden Sterns blocked USC kicker Chase McGrath’s 46-yard field goal attempt at the 6:25 mark, which was scooped up by linebacker Anthony Wheeler and returned for a touchdown. The Longhorns increased their lead to 30-14.

Sam Ehlinger gave Texas its third touchdown of the quarter on a designed quarterback draw from 4 yards out with 1:42 remaining.

After three quarters, the Longhorns scored 34 unanswered points and led USC 37-14.

Both teams would go scoreless in the fourth quarter, and the Longhorns would win by the final score of 37-14.

Game Notes:

  • Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger threw for 223 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed for 35 yards and one touchdown.
  • Tre Watson led the Longhorns in rushing with 72 yards on 18 carries. Daniel Young finished the night with 57 yards on 12 carries.
  • The Texas defense held USC to -5 rushing yards on 16 carries.
  • Texas kicker Cameron Dicker went 3-3 tonight in field goals and made good on 4/4 extra points.
  • Wide receiver LJ Humphrey had another big night, hauling in four receptions for 84 yards and a touchdown.
  • Joshua Moore caught his first career touchdown pass in the 3rd quarter of tonight’s contest.
  • Texas set an all-time attendance record tonight (103,507).
  • The Longhorns join Michigan and Ohio State as the only FBS programs to reach 900 wins.

The Longhorns will face TCU at Darrell K. Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium next Saturday at 3:30 PM.

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Game Preview: Texas Longhorns vs. #21 USC Trojans

Texas looks to come out on top after suffering a heartbreaking loss to the Trojans last year. Can they come out on top?

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Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA TODAY Sports

Two of college football’s most storied programs will meet on Saturday night in Austin when The Texas Longhorns (1-1) host the USC Trojans (1-1). USC holds a 5-1 all-time record over the Longhorns, with Texas’ lone win taking place at the Rose Bowl in 2006, earning the program its fourth national championship. The two teams met last in 2017 in Los Angeles, with #4 USC narrowly defeating Texas 27-24 in double overtime.  Texas defeated Tulsa at home last week 28-21, while USC lost to Stanford 17-3 in Palo Alto.

What:  Texas Longhorns (1-1, 0-0 Big 12) vs. USC Trojans (1-1, 0-1 Pac-12)
When:  Saturday, September 15, 2018
Time:  7:00 PM CST
Venue:  Darrell K. Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium
Location: Austin, TX
Television: FOX

The Coaches

USC TROJANS

Head Coach:  Clay Helton
Head Coaching Experience: 5th year as a head coach (held interim head coaching role at USC in 2013 & 2015)
Years as Head Coach at USC:  5
Career Record:  28-11
Career Record at USC:  28-11

TEXAS LONGHORNS

Head Coach:  Tom Herman
Head Coaching Experience: 4th year as a head coach
Years as Head Coach at Texas:  2
Career Record:  30-11
Career Record at Texas:  8-7

Turning Point for Texas?

Texas and Tom Herman found themselves in a similar position last year as they headed into Game 3 of the season.  The Longhorns were unable to turn the corner after USC’s victory and teetered around .500 play ever since.  This year Texas has an opportunity to bring a winning record into a rough stretch of conference play, something the Longhorns desperately need.  A win over the Top-25 ranked Trojans would do wonders for Tom Herman and the team’s psyche.  Another loss and another losing record after three games will only bring out more of Tom Herman’s critics, who will again question his efficacy and the direction of the program.  Herman has acknowledged the fans’ disappointment about a mediocre 2017 season and another season-opening loss against Maryland two weeks ago, but those expectations aren’t any higher than his for his team and players:

“The expectations that are put on us from the outside are never going to meet or exceed the expectations that we put on ourselves. And so yeah, I love our fans, absolutely love them and I hope they continue to stay as passionate about Texas football as they have been.”

Herman says fans can expect to see a team that’s continually improving and excited to play USC in front of a home crowd.

Can Ehlinger and the Offense get Cranking?

A big piece of the puzzle for Texas is the play of sophmore quarterback Sam Ehlinger.  Ehlinger, who has thrown for 500 yards this season, threw two key interceptions in the fourth quarter against the Terrapins and fumbled once in the win against Tulsa. He has improved from game one to game two, and he must play even better against a USC defense that limited a potent Stanford offense to just 17 points last week.   Ehlinger threw for 298 yards against the Trojans last year but also had 2 interceptions.

USC ranks 113 out of 129 teams in rushing defense and gives up 233.5 yards per game on the ground.  With Keaontay Ingram likely out for this game, Tre Watson and Daniel Young will carry the load in the Texas rushing attack, which averages 191.5 per game.  Texas hasn’t had a 100-yard rusher this season, but be on the watch for Tre Watson to potentially have a big game on Saturday night.

Texas Injuries

Zach Shacklelford – Center

The Longhorns will be without several key players in Saturday’s matchup against the Trojans, including starting center Zach Shackelford.  Shackelford, who missed the Tulsa game with a foot injury, is wearing a boot and will remain sidelined against USC.  The junior from Belton, Texas has played in 20 games and started in 18 of them in his 3rd year at Texas.  Senior Elijah Rodriguez started in place of the injured Shackelford at center in the Tulsa game, and will assume the same duties against the Trojans.

Keaontay Ingram – Running Back

Tom Herman lists running back Keaontay Ingram is listed as “highly doubtful” for participating in the contest against the Trojans. Ingram injured his knee in the win against the Golden Hurricane and was diagnosed with a deep bone bruise and a sprained MCL earlier in the week. Ingram, a true freshman, is averaging 6.3 yards per carry and has totaled 64 yards on the ground through two games.  Graduate transfer Tre Watson and Daniel Young are listed as co-starters on the depth chart, but expect to see Watson handle most of the carries.

John Burt -Wide Receiver

Burt continues to nurse a foot injury sustained in preseason camp.  The senior missed the Maryland and Tulsa games and is unavailable for USC.

DeMarvion Overshown – Linebacker

Overshown, a true freshman from Arp, continues to nurse an injured knee and will not play against USC. Overshown is expected to return in a couple of weeks, according to head coach Tom Herman.

Returns to the Field

While injuries will force several players out of Saturday’s game, the Longhorns will see several starters back in the lineup against the Trojans.  Safety Brandon Jones will make his return at safety after missing the Tulsa game with a high ankle sprain. Defensive backs Davante Davis and Kris Boyd were tabbed as ready to play against USC.  Davis left the Maryland game in the first half with a neck injury and subsequently missed the Tulsa game. Kris Boyd hasn’t missed any games this season but woke up with soreness in his neck after the Tulsa game.  Freshman linebacker Ayodele Adeoye‘s knee has healed from his preseason injury and will be available to play against the Trojans.

What’s at Stake?

Texas notched win #800 in 2006 when they defeated USC and claimed the 2005 BCS Championship.  The Longhorns enter Saturday’s contest with 899 wins and an opportunity to climb to 900 with a victory over the Trojans.  While all-time wins are important historically, Tom Herman and Texas are focused on being “1-0” each week.  This game is pivotal because of the momentum it possibly brings with a Texas win — something the Longhorns sorely need.

 

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