When Texas faced off against UCLA it would be hard to say that Longhorn fans had full faith in the offensive play calling. However, they saw a coaching staff that responded and adapted very well to the tough loss against BYU. With Tyrone Swoopes at the helm and a thin offensive line with only ten combined starts, Coach Watson and Coach Wickline decided to utilize the talents they had by running an offense that better suited the available roster.

Pass Game
Texas was very effective passing. More appropriately, Texas was very effective passing, when the pass protection held. The inexperience of the O-line started to become a problem late in the game and was mostly due to simple fundamental mistakes.

Texas’ offensive line struggled with the fierce pass rush from the Bruins, especially from number 58, Deon Hollins. UCLA decided to line their top pass rusher over the right tackle instead of the traditional ‘blind side’ and it truly gave the Longhorns issues.

However, the Longhorns found a great deal of success with the play action pass and the ‘bubble’ or ‘quick’ routes that are tacked on to running plays. Swoopes was able to read the coverages effectively and made his decisions quickly to complete passes. Early in the game Texas ran a play action pass which Swoopes read perfectly for a fifteen yard completion (Fig.1).

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When the nickel pressed the Bubble route (Shipley), Swoopes found the open space in the zone and completed a crisp pass to Marcus Johnson.

Run Game
The quick and clean passing game from Swoopes opened up the run game tremendously; however, with the recent change of offensive formations, the play book became much smaller. Texas managed to find formations that forced UCLA to keep fewer defenders in the box as well as encouraging the Bruins to play with five defensive backs instead of a third linebacker. These contributing factors allowed Texas to successfully run the ball and find favorable mismatches that helped Texas’ offensive line (Fig. 2).

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In the first half Texas manipulated the UCLA defense to their advantage, but in the second half of the game the Bruins defensive line began to win one on one battles and destroy plays that presented huge potential (Fig 3).

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Texas ran a large majority of plays from the gun while using two or more receivers on almost every play. These ‘spread’ formations force the defense to expand with the offense, leaving fewer defenders in the box. By having fewer defenders in the box, offenses are able to gain more favorable numbers while blocking thus making the run game more effective.

This type of offense also puts more pressure on the quarterback. To keep the defense ‘honest’ and not add more defenders to the box, the quarterback has to pose a threat in the passing game – which Swoopes surely did. With a little over four minutes left in the first half Tyrone Swoopes was 10 for 10 passing and just a minute later scored the first touchdown of the game.

With the ball on UCLA’s goal line, Texas came out in an unbalanced formation that greatly favored the run. When the Bruins responded by loading the box and pressing the line of scrimmage, Texas went over the top with a play action pass from Swoopes to a wide open McFarland (Fig 4).

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Texas also chose to attack the edges of the UCLA defense with a large number of screens and sweeps. In the second half, Texas ran a modified sweep to Malcolm Brown that put serious pressure on the UCLA secondary (Fig 5).

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Even though the game didn’t have the desired end result, Texas fans were able to see the offense start to come together. Coach Watson and Coach Wickline will continue to keep this Longhorn offense rolling and evolving. The Longhorn offense undoubtedly took advantage of the bye week and added to the play book.