Last week the University of Texas looked a little different than they did while playing UNT. From the roster to the play calling, Texas seemed…lack luster. However, a stout first half performance from the defense kept the faith of Longhorn Nation while they watched their Texas offense stall.

Like most major problems in football, there was more than just one cause for the ineffective performance. An inexperienced offensive line, a ‘new’ quarterback, and a different style of defense from one week to the next all contributed to the loss at the hands of the Cougars.

In the first half, the Longhorn offense used formations that never allowed BYU to load the box. These formations, along with an accurate Tyrone Swoopes, made it easier to attain ‘even numbers’ (matchups of offensive and defensive personnel), but there was no success to be had. Offenses will often times try to gain even numbers in the box so that there are as many blockers on offense as there are defenders (fig 1). Having even numbers increases the chance of creating a clear running lane for the ball carrier and thus a larger gain on the play.

Posted Image

The Zone Run is a major part of the Texas offense and, as we have discussed in previous editions of Chalk Talk, it can be effectively run from any formation. The Longhorns attempted to spread the BYU defense out early in the game and found moderate success, but inexperience on the offensive line didn’t allow for much ‘push’ or for many running lanes to open up. BYU was also running a three man front, which at times can look a lot like a traditional 4-3, but it changes many blocking responsibilities and really confuses inexperienced offensive lineman (fig. 2).

Posted Image
For example, at the end of the second quarter, while Texas was running the hurry-up, they set themselves in a traditional spread formation and were presented with a great opportunity. It was 2nd and 1 and the Longhorns ran the zone to the strong side. They had an advantage with blockers outnumbering the defenders in the box 6 to 5, but BYU was able to make the tackle for no gain resulting in 3rd and 1 (fig 3).

Posted Image

On the next play Texas lined up in a ‘heavy’ formation with two tight ends and two running backs. BYU responded by doing just what Texas had been trying to avoid; they loaded the box which resulted in another failed 3rd down conversion and a punt (fig 4).

Posted Image

Throughout the game, the words of the Texas coaching staff, “You don’t have to be Great, just manage things” echoed in the minds of the burnt orange faithful. However, Texas’ ultimate concern ended up being an inexperienced offensive line, not a questionable quarterback. Tyrone Swoopes completed the majority of his passes on time and accurately. He pulled the Zone and threw a few quick routes to avoid a loaded box and take advantage of a mismatched coverage. Swoopes even successfully audibled plays several times for first downs.

This week, several Texas coaches have stated that Tyrone may be ready for more, but his teammates are not. Most fans would really like to see Texas run an offense similar to what they saw from BYU. By making this change Texas would force new players in the rotation and young players to learn a new system. But, with all the opportunities that Texas missed, it may be time to adjust the play book to accommodate a new depth chart.
  • J.B. TexasEx, killrjoe, OrangeLarry and 1 other like this