Texas took a positive step toward putting a tired meme to bed, so there’s that. Let’s keep this brief. The offense continues to amaze with its ineptitude. They had a good plan to start the game, and then forgot to prepare adjustments. Kansas repeatedly begged the offense to throw quick to the outside – including on a 3rd & 1 where the corner was NINE yards off the receiver. I thought for sure we’d see run-pass options with hitches and quick-outs to punish the Jayhawks for those cushions, but they never came. Texas tried WR screens, but they’re sorely missing Reggie Hemphill-Mapps’ decisiveness on those. The few times the receiver did stick his foot in the ground and go, it was because his blocker was tumbling back into his lap. Other times, Shane Buechele underthrew or missed receivers in space. Other passes were dropped. And the offensive line managed to give up pressures even when they were in seven- or eight-man protections.
The defense wasn’t so bad, but if I had to guess, Holton Hill’s suspension will cost Texas bowl eligibility. Hill to Davante Davis is a falling-off-the-edge-of-the-earth-type drop-off. Josh Thompson got his shot at the end of the game and aimed it at his foot. Brandon Jones is still struggling with the basic skills of a
football player mobile living being, such as angles. Antwuan Davis was in the wrong spot more often than he was in the right one, but he made the best of his opportunities. Jason Hall and Kris Boyd had a few communication issues, especially on one early series in the red zone. They looked at times like the 2016 secondary because, personnel-wise, they were the 2016 secondary. With two top-10 passing offenses left on the schedule, I am not optimistic.
Texas scored on the first play again, and I mumbled, “Aww ****.”
It’s really nothing special, and I’ve talked about this principle of attacking Quarters coverage before. Kansas is playing a man coverage variant of Quarters, so the safety and cornerback stick with their receivers even when they cross paths on the Scissors concept. This is simpler than switching responsibilities, but it also puts the cornerback in a footrace to the post. If you’re wondering why Texas didn’t do this more often, recall the dozens of times you’ve seen the offensive line give up sacks and pressures while in max protection and you’ll have your answer. It’s a miracle they executed this one.
Sam Is Back-ish
I’ll refrain from speculation, but the way the coaches handled Sam Ehlinger in this game was bizarre. We’re not talking about a bum ankle – either he’s cleared or he isn’t. Here was our non-garbage time glimpse of him.
This is the sort of play design I’d expect to see in an offense built around Ehlinger (Cameron Rising could probably do it too). The run fake presents the threat of a sweep by Toneil Carter, or an off-tackle run by Ehlinger. Texas has run Power Read a few times this season, which is very similar, but I don’t think they’ve presented this exact look before. That it worked anyway goes to show how dangerous it could be – against Kansas, at least. I’m glad they snuck this play in with Luke Ford in attendance.
Run It ‘Til They Stop It
On their second offensive scoring drive, Texas ran the same play five straight times.
They got in 12 personnel with the tight end and fullback/H-back on the same side and the tailback on the opposite side. Kansas lined up each time in an under front, which means there’s a “bubble” in the backside A gap (no defender lined up directly over it). Texas then ran inside zone to the strong side but had the fullback/H-back, Chris Warren, cross the center and lead block through that uncovered A gap.
Kansas finally adjusted on the fifth play, running a fire zone from the strong side and slanting the defensive line toward the offense’s targeted gap. Improbably, the offensive line – particularly center Zach Shackelford and right guard Jake McMillon – had no problem handling the line movement. Daniel Young and Toneil Carter ran exceptionally well on this series, and though I’m very reluctant to dismiss another offensive coordinator, their performances continue to make a convincing case that whoever decided Kyle Porter and Chris Warren deserved carries over the freshmen should be out of coaching.
A week after his grown-man effort on a touchdown reception against TCU, Collin Johnson is frustrating again.
Kansas had started rolling to one-deep safety looks to try to stop the run game, giving Texas one-on-one matchups outside. Big men punish teams for doing this, or they don’t play. Period. I’m not entertaining excuses here: When you’re eight inches taller and 45 pounds heavier than your opponent, you should be unstoppable. You should be making catches like you’re in your backyard being guarded by your little sister. Johnson didn’t even leave his feet. It’s time to accept that, at this still-early juncture in his career, Johnson is not who we thought he was before the season and even after USC.
And then there were plays like these that belong squarely on Buechele’s shoulders.
In the first clip, a 2nd & 7 at the +19, Kansas sold out to stop the run. With no deep safeties, all Buechele had to do was fire a quick, on-target pass to Johnson on the slant and it’s, at worst, 1st & Goal. I swear football isn’t as difficult as Texas makes it look.
In the second clip, a 3rd & 10, Texas has to use seven-man protection just to have a prayer at completing a route longer than 10 yards. The nature of Kansas’ coverage means the other routes clear out the defense, leaving the cornerback to chase Lorenzo Joe on the dig. When you watch other games, you’ll often see a receiver catch a pass in this area of the field and then run for a long time. That would have happened here if Buechele had thrown the ball above Joe’s knees.
And then there was the interception. Needing seven yards for a first down, Texas ran a concept designed to beat Cover 2 against Kansas’ … Cover 2. The cornerback is forced to decide between sinking and taking away the corner route, or sitting on the flat route and giving up the longer completion. This cornerback overplayed the corner route, leaving Lil’Jordan Humphrey open for an easy first down, but Buechele threw the deeper route anyway. Ughhhhhh.
One of Three Stupid Touchdowns
The only one of Kansas’ touchdowns I care to diagram is the first one. The second TD was a gadget play, and the last one was in garbage time against second stringers who would be third stringers if Texas had any depth.
This shouldn’t go for more than maybe a yard. There’s one blocker for three defenders. But the numbers don’t matter if Kris Boyd gets cut, and they matter even less if he loses contain.
Stats are necessary, but they conceal much more information than they convey. Antwuan Davis’ pick-six is a great example, because it could easily have been six points the other way.
Texas was playing a two-deep, six-under zone coverage. Note where Gary Johnson is in relation to the slot receiver on the far side, then compare that to where Davis is in relation to the near slot. Were it not for the pressure (it’s nice to turn the tables and get pressure with only three rushers), the Kansas QB would have had time to let the slot find his way into the vast emptiness in midfield. But fortunately, Charles Omenihu was bearing down on him and forced the early throw.
The second clip shows Jason Hall’s interception. Texas was playing Quarters, which means Hall needed to wall off the in-breaking route by the slot receiver. He overruns the route, and is mid-“oh ****” when the ball almost hits him in the face. Terrible read by the Kansas quarterback.
That’s all from me. Regarding the defensive performance, I wanted to add a little more context. Pretty much without fail, the lapses were a result of mistakes made by the players mentioned in the intro – players who were supposed to be backups (though with Hill and P.J. Locke still out, that hardly matters now). Even still, Texas gifted Kansas 30 yards in (questionable) penalties on their first scoring drive. The second touchdown came on a trick play after a series of missed tackles and confusion by the secondary in the red zone. Kansas’ first field goal came after going three-and-out on a drive starting at the Texas 24. And the last touchdown was in garbage time against backups. Texas could (and should) certainly have held Kansas to 20 points, and I have no doubt they would have scored no more than half that total if Hill had played.
Looking ahead, Antwuan Davis is going to make some mental mistakes, but they’ll be tolerable if he can pair them with big plays. Davante Davis is going to make mental and physical mistakes – he has to be protected as much as possible. Brandon Jones just needs to survive until the offseason, then really dedicate himself to becoming the football player he can be. Help is on the way.
That offensive line, though…
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: Baylor
Texas narrowly escaped with a victory against Baylor on Saturday, and there are several areas that the Longhorns must clean up to stay atop the Big 12
Another week, another close ballgame that came down to the final drive for Texas. The Longhorns found themselves behind the eight ball when Sam Ehlinger exited the game with an injury in the 1st quarter, and Baylor ended up giving Texas all they could handle. Regardless, Texas is now 6-1 and sits alone atop of the Big 12 conference standings. The Longhorns will gladly welcome the bye week as they prepare for the final stretch of the season. Let’s take a look at the good and the bad from a 23-17 win over the Bears:
Texas finally has a 100-yard rusher
For the first time in the Tom Herman era, Texas had a 100-yard rusher. Freshman Keaontay Ingram finished the afternoon with 110 yards on 19 carries. It’s hard to believe it had been 20 games since the Longhorns had someone surpass the 100-yard rushing mark, but it is only appropriate Ingram was the one to break the streak. Ingram continues to see an uptick in touches and has proven to be the best running back on the roster.
Collin Johnson continues to dominate
Texas now has a good problem on their hands. Collin Johnson is playing himself into position to be a potential high NFL draft pick, and I don’t think you will find many people who are upset about it. Johnson has cemented himself as a number 1 receiver after turning in another great performance on Saturday, hauling in 11 receptions for 132 yards and a touchdown. The biggest improvement he has made from his first two seasons is his physicality. Johnson has proven to be reliable going over the middle of the field while also also improving his ability beat corners off the line of scrimmage.
It’s hard to find a lot of negative when you look at Ryan Bujcevski’s stat line: 47.8 yards per punt and 3 punts inside the 20. Unfortunately, the stats do not tell the full story. Texas continues to have major issues getting punts off in a timely manner, and I am beginning to think it is more on Bujcevski than the protection unit. The Aussie takes far too long to get the ball off his foot once he receives the snap. Baylor nearly had a block yesterday, and it is a minor miracle the Longhorns have not had a punt blocked this year.
Opening drive scores
The Texas defense has had a tough time stopping opponents on their opening drives this season. In the 7 opening drives opponents have had against the Longhorns this year, 5 have ended in either a touchdown or field goal. Todd Orlando has stressed the importance of starting fast on defense, but a trend has emerged.
Cameron Dicker comes back to earth
Cameron Dicker carried over his momentum from his game winner against Oklahoma, going 3 for 3 on field goals in the first half, including a 47-yarder to end the half. The second half was a different story. Dicker missed a 34-yard attempt late in the 4th quarter that would have given Texas a 9-point lead. He followed it up with a miss from 51 yards. It has been a roller coaster ride for Tom Herman as he tries to manage the punting and kicking unit, but it’s hard to expect anything less since he is having to trot out a true freshman punter and kicker.
Zero second half points
The Longhorns had 5 drives in the second half — 2 ending in punts, 2 in missed field goals and one with an interception. Similar to the Kansas State game, the Texas offense moved the ball at times in the second half but were hurt by the inability to finish drives. Tom Herman and the offensive staff have shown improvements in making halftime adjustments, but the staff failed to put Shane Buechele and the offense in a position to finish off drives against a Baylor defense that ranked at or near the bottom of the Big 12 in nearly every major statistical category.
Sam Ehlinger’s injury
Texas fans now have a greater appreciation for Sam Ehlinger after watching the offense try to operate for almost 4 full quarters without him. Shane Buechele is considered a quality passer, but he fails to bring the running dimension to the offense that Ehlinger brings. The Longhorn offense is built around Ehlinger, and if he were to miss any extended period of time, it would not be good. If he is healthy enough for Oklahoma State, he needs to play. The Texas offense is not good enough to plug in the backup and rest the starter, even against a team like Oklahoma State.
Seahorn’s Five Thoughts: Baylor
Things didn’t go according to plan from the jump with Sam Ehlinger suffering a shoulder injury during the first series of the football game. Yet the Longhorns managed to gut out a win against the pesky Bears of Waco and move to 6-1 on the season. The Longhorns have now won 6 in a row and still have a chance to accomplish the goals they set out for at the start of the season. The main thing right now is for them to get healthy and nurse some bumps and bruises before heading to Stillwater to take on the Cowboys.
Here’s what I’ve got on my mind after today’s tight contest against Baylor.
- It Wasn’t Pretty… but it was a Win
This game had a hard left turn in the first offensive series for Texas, with Ehlinger suffering a shoulder injury that would eventually rule him out for the rest of the game. This meant backup quarterback Shane Buechele was called in cold to guide the ship for the rest of the contest. Buechele hasn’t received a game snap all year long, and was thrown right into the pressure cooker. Thankfully the junior quarterback has several starts under his belt and he was able to lean on that experience to help get the Longhorns across the finish line today with a win today.
Don’t get it twisted, though. Ehlinger going out early completely changed the dynamics of this ball game and how the Texas offense typically operates. The designed quarterback runs were out the window, Ehlinger’s ability to improvise and hurt a defense with his feet was gone, and most importantly, the steady hand that has guided the Texas offense all year long was gone. Nobody really knew what to expect when Buechele was thrust into action this afternoon. He made some nice throws, led some solid drives, but he also had one interception on a ball that he overshot on a post, resulting in points for Baylor.
On the flip side of things the Texas defense had a solid day at the office, but with the offense handling some adversity, they had a tall task of slowing down a capable offense. The secondary had some forgettable moments today (particularly on third down and long), but at the end of the day they were able to hold the Baylor offense to 17 points and 328 yards of offense. When you take into account that a good chunk of that came on the final drive when the Bears started in the shadows of their own goal posts, then it’s not too bad in the grand scheme of things.
This wasn’t a style-point game like many hoped it would be and it wasn’t always pretty, but it was still a win nonetheless and you will take them however you can get them.
- Keaontay Ingram Goes Over the Century Mark
Coming into the contest, Texas had yet to tally a 100-yard rusher, but that came to end via freshman running back Keaontay Ingram. Ingram led the Texas rushing attack to the tune of 110 yards on 19 carries (5.78 YPC) and he dazzled with some really nice runs, showing off his vision and patience in the process.
Ingram flashes remarkable traits and often seems to get positive yardage when it looks like he has no room to run. There were times where I could see penetration from the Baylor front before Ingram got to the LOS and he still managed to squeeze through the hole and pop out on the other side. Mind you, this is all transpiring after Tom Herman said that Ingram isn’t playing at 100% from the injury that caused him to miss a game earlier this year.
The future is bright for #26 in burnt orange, who looks better every week.
- Dicker the Kicker is Mortal
Freshman kicker Cameron Dicker showed today that even after draining a game-winning kick against Oklahoma last week and making three field goals afternoon, he is in fact capable of missing. The freshman from Lake Travis started the day 3 for 3 before missing two kicks (both his shortest and longest attempts) that would have put the game out of reach for Baylor.
It may sound like I’m nitpicking here on a freshman, but when points were at a premium like they were today, you have to push one of those through and give yourself a little more wiggle room.
- The Secondary has Some Sore Spots That Need Addressing
The Texas defense only allowed 240 yards passing today against a pretty good offense, but they were also fortunate in some cases that it wasn’t more. This is going to feel like I’m calling some guys out, but when Baylor needed a big play or was in a crucial spot they seemed to always go at whoever PJ Locke or Davante Davis was covering.
Both Davis and Locke have spilled blood for the program and have been solid citizens, but it seems obvious at times that teams are picking on them. I’ve been quietly wondering if the defensive staff would start working in some alternative options, but as the season has moved forward they’ve continued to roll with their guys.
I don’t have access to how practices play out, so I’m not sure if guys like Josh Thompson or Anthony Cook aren’t doing enough to unseat the veterans, but I know what I see on Saturdays hasn’t been great. Eventually it could get this team beat if the right opponent presents itself.
- The Injury of Sam Ehlinger
I hate ending on a sour note, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a tad bit concerned about the injury that kept Ehlinger out for essentially the entire ball game. When Ehlinger emerged from the locker room, most thought he was just getting the cut on his hand addressed, but others noticed he was not really moving his shoulder as he moved around. Herman addressed the media after the game and disclosed that Ehlinger suffered an AC sprain in his throwing shoulder, and that they were hopeful that he could be throwing by the end of the week.
The silver lining is that Texas is heading into a bye week, so Texas has an extra week to get 11 healthy. If he does have to miss a game, they have an extra week to get Buechele reps and game ready for road test against a team that Texas has struggled with in recent contests.
The down side of things is that injury of this nature could take several weeks to fully heal, and with Ehlinger being as important as he is to the team, you may not want to risk further aggravating the injury. Needless to say, this is going to be something to monitor closely as the matchup gets closer.
#9 Longhorns survive Baylor scare, win 23-17
Texas survives a late comeback attempt by Baylor to improve to 6-1
The Longhorns survived.
Backup quarterback Shane Buechele replaced an injured Sam Ehlinger on the opening drive of the game and Cameron Dicker missed two critical field goals, but the Longhorns managed to hang on and beat Baylor for their sixth straight win. Texas failed to score points in the second half after taking a 23-10 lead into the locker room at halftime. Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer threw a touchdown pass in the third quarter to bring the Bears within 6 points of the Longhorns. Baylor held the last drive of the game, starting at their own 3 yard line, and with :06 left had marched to the Texas 17-yard line. With :01 left, Brewer’s final pass sailed out of the end zone incomplete, and the Longhorns won their 4th straight game over the Bears.
Texas running back Keaontay Ingram rushed for 110 yards on 19 carries, leading all players in rushing. Buechele completed 20/34 passes for 184 yards and a touchdown, throwing one interception — the first for the team since the 4th quarter of the Maryland game. Collin Johnson had a big day in the air, catching 11 passes for 132 yards and one touchdown.
Head coach Tom Herman praised his backup quarterback, despite the fact he hasn’t seen the field since the Longhorns’ bowl game against Missouri last season.
“Shane Buechele is the most engaged; he’s the most prepared; he’s the most positive coaching backup quarterback I’ve ever been around in my life and I’ve been around some really good ones. Really, really good ones.
Ehlinger’s injury was classified as an AC sprain on his throwing shoulder, and he will have an MRI to make sure that there is no ligament damage. Herman is hopeful that rest, treatment, and the upcoming bye week will aid in Ehlinger’s recovery, allowing him to be available for Oklahoma State in two weeks.
The Texas defense held Baylor to 88 yards rushing and 240 yards passing. Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer finished 20/39 for 240 yards and one touchdown and one interception. Denzel Mims led the Bears in receiving with 3 catches for 80 yards and a touchdown.
The Longhorns improve to 6-1 overall with the win and 4-0 in the Big 12 Conference.
Staff Predictions: Baylor vs. Texas
Texas looks to continue its winning ways against an underrated Baylor team
The Baylor Bears travel to Austin to try and end the Longhorns’ current streak of success. Since Art Briles left, the Baylor program has not been the same — but Matt Rhule appears to have the Bears heading in the right direction. The Baylor offense will give the Texas defense some problems, but having a full crowd at DKR after a big rivalry win will make it very difficult for the Bears to pull off the upset.
Daniel Seahorn (2-4)
Can this Texas team put a big Oklahoma win behind them and avoid a hangover against the Bears from Waco? I for one am anxious to see how this team handles success as the season wears on, particularly after a win over a conference rival that was exhausting physically and emotionally.
The Longhorns are the better team on paper and should be on Saturday. The Bears aren’t going to roll over, though. They have an offense that is able to give a defense some problems. The Longhorns control their destiny after the win over the Sooners, and now more than ever need to be following their mantra of going 1-0 each week. Focus on the task at hand with the Bears, and everything else will take care of itself.
I like the the Longhorns to be victorious this week, but I expect the Bears to be more competitive than they were last year in Waco.
Prediction: Texas 45, Baylor 27
Jameson McCausland (4-2)
The trend with Texas this season is playing up and down to their competition. If that continues on Saturday, Texas will find itself in a close ballgame late in the 4th quarter. The 2018 Baylor Bears are not as bad as some think. They are extremely thin at certain positions, but Matt Rhule has brought in some nice pieces to build around, namely QB Charlie Brewer.
The Baylor defense is terrible, and that is putting it nicely. This is a unit that is worse than the Oklahoma unit Texas put up 48 points on a week ago. I expect big games from Tre Watson and Keaontay Ingram, and I will predict a long touchdown for Devin Duvernay. Baylor will hang around for most of the game, but I expect the Texas offense to simply be too much.
Prediction: Texas 38, Baylor 21
Aaron Carrara (5-1)
Post-Oklahoma, Tom Herman mentioned how nice it was for his offense to carry the team instead of having to rely on the defense to get the job done. The Longhorns will need Sam Ehlinger and the offense to put up points and carry the team against a Baylor offense that is equally as capable as the Sooners. Texas has the edge in defense, which is why I think they get the job done on Saturday. I expect Texas to have success in the air against the Bears, but I would be surprised if they aren’t run-heavy against a defense that allows almost 200 rushing yards per game. Keaontay Ingram was 14 yards shy of the century mark against the Sooners, but he could be in for a big day on Saturday. Todd Orlando’s defense needs to play better than they did in the 4th quarter against Oklahoma, or it could be an interesting game. Baylor is no slouch and Texas knows it, but Tom Herman has done a fantastic job of preaching and ingraining the 1-0 mentality week after week with his players.
Prediction: Texas 38, Baylor 31
Harrison Wier (2-4)
Baylor is no slouch. Texas fans may not know it, but Texas certainly does. If the Longhorns allow the Bears to stay in the game, things could get interesting late. I ultimately believe Texas will come away victorious due to lack of productivity from the Bears defense this season.
Todd Orlando has a great opportunity to use this game as a confidence-builder for his unit. The Baylor offense is extremely capable of putting up points on anyone, and if Texas holds, it could do wonders for the unit’s confidence after giving up 21 unanswered points to Oklahoma last week. The Texas offense has been consistent and dominant lately, and that should not change on Saturday. I expect big games from Sam Ehlinger and the Texas running back corps.
Ultimately, Texas should be too much for Baylor. Matt Rhule has the Bears heading in the right direction, but the program is just not quite there in terms of competing with the rest of the conference. Texas will impose its will at times and hopefully not take its foot off the gas.
Prediction: Texas 42, Baylor 31
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