After a poor week 2 performance against BYU, Texas played much better this week against a tough UCLA team. While the Longhorns didn’t come away with a victory, the improvements from last week to this were evident in many areas of the team.
For the second consecutive week, Tyrone Swoopes started the game off hot as he completed 11 straight passes. The Longhorns seemed to move the ball a little better at times and Swoopes even used his legs more than he did against BYU. As was the case last week, Swoopes was not a main reason that Texas lost to UCLA. He showed good poise, especially in the TD drive that put Texas ahead with five minutes remaining.
Grade: B+ Tyrone Swoopes continues to impress and is slowly proving to the coaches that they can trust him more and more to open the playbook up.
The Texas Runningbacks played a better game last night than they did in week 2. Instead of constantly being stuffed at the line or in the backfield, the RBs were pushing forward for 4-6 yards after the first hit. Brown and Gray again were not called on often to catch the ball out of the backfield, but they weren’t a liability either. They also did a good job of helping the line pass block and keep Swoopes off of the turf.
Grade: B Brown and Gray showed growth from week 2 to week 3 in many areas. The Horns will need to continue to see the two five stars improve for the offense to get better.
Both WRs and TEs played a better game at times. Marcus Johnson showed up and made several clutch catches, usually on hot slants, while Harris and Shipley continued to perform on a high level. The TEs, on the other hand, were again absent save for a two yard TD reception from MJ McFarland.
Grade: B- The WRs are doing what they’re being asked. The mistakes were limited, but the late drop was still costly. The TEs did block well, but will need to be more of a factor for the offense to continue to improve.
There were times that the line looked like they did against BYU, failing to get a good push and having difficulty protecting the QB. But like every other position on offense, it was easy to see that the line showed improvement since last week. There were more running lanes and a better push in general for the runningbacks and the pass protection was again good enough for the QB to have time to make his throws.
Grade: C+ While the line still had their mistakes, they were limited and didn’t seem to take points off the board. As the playbook continues to expand the line will need to prove that they can protect Swoopes longer than just a few seconds for short routes.
With Hundley out of the game after the first series, the defense had a prime opportunity to totally shut down the run and force UCLA to pass. Instead, the Bruins continued to run the read play even though Neuhiesel is a pocket passer with very little running skills. The line played well in the first half, helping to limit UCLA to just 3 points in the first half. But the third quarter problems popped up again, beginning with a 58 yard run on the first play of the third up the middle of the defense. The line made their fare share of plays, including another sack by Malcom Brown and a huge fumble recovery by Boyette.
Grade: C The line played well at times, but giving up 217 yards on the ground to a team without their starting dual threat QB is inexcusable when you have guys like M. Brown and Reed.
To the naked eye, Jordan Hicks played like a man on fire for most of the night. He really seemed to be flying around and involved or in the vicinity on nearly every tackle. Edmonds had his moments as well, including a huge strip late in the 4th. But, like the line, the LBs cannot allow the 217 rushing yards to a UCLA team without Hundley. That said, it was still a big improvement over last week’s loss to BYU.
Grade: C+ The boys are improving, but they’ve got to do a better job of closing the gaps and stopping the run.
On one hand, the secondary played well and limited UCLA to short passes within 3-10 yards of the line for much of the evening. On the other hand, when the game was on the line, the Longhorns allowed a 33 yard game winning TD catch on a pump and go to a redshirt sophomore backup QB with little game experience. Texas defensive backs played well for much of the evening, not allowing the WRs to beat them long (until the end) and keeping the short passes from turning into big yards as missed tackles were limited for much of the evening.
Grade: B While the secondary gave up the big play, they covered well and forced UCLA to throw underneath for a majority of the night.
Will Russ is really starting to come into his own. Russ boomed kicks and had a career high 62 yard punt. Unfortunately, it was a big Russ punt that turned into a game changer when his punt cleared coverage and allowed Ishmael Adams to return the ball to the 33 with 3:00 left, which set up the game winner on the next play. Field goals were better, but there was absolutely nothing in both punt and kick returns available for Texas.
Grade: C- One bad punt coverage helped to cost the a Longhorns the game. You can never fault a punter for kicking the ball too far, but the coverage has to be better.