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HornSports Staff last won the day on August 6 2016

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  1. Story by Jameson McCausland The Longhorns (4-5, 3-3) will welcome Kansas (1-8, 0-6) to Austin on Saturday. Texas will be looking to revenge a shocking 24-21 loss to Kansas in 2016. Kansas is coming off a 38-9 loss to a Baylor team that was previously winless. Let’s take a look at what to expect from the Kansas offense: Quarterback Throughout fall camp, sophomore Carter Stanley and junior transfer Peyton Bender competed for the starting quarterback job. Bender started the first game of the season against Southeast Missouri State, the only win for the Jayhawks on the year. In the games following, Bender’s play regressed and he was eventually replaced by Stanley, who has started the last two games against TCU and Baylor. Stanley has thrown for 717 yards, with one touchdown and 3 interceptions. During his media availability on Tuesday, Beaty said that Stanley was nursing an undisclosed injury and is questionable for Saturday’s game. If Stanley is unable to play, Kansas will be forced to hand the reigns back to Bender. Bender has thrown for 1437 yards, with 8 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. Doug Meacham is in his first season as offensive coordinator for the Jayhawks, and has found it tough to move the football without the weapons he had at his disposal at his previous stop, TCU. Regardless of who lines up behind center for Kansas, Texas will have a decisive advantage when the Jayhawks throw the ball. Running Back With the Jayhawks averaging 49 passes per game and falling behind early in almost every game, the running game has struggled. Primary running back Khalil Herbert had a monster performance against West Virginia, gaining 291 yards on the ground on 39 carries, but has otherwise only surpassed the 100-yard mark in one other game. Herbert has rushed for 615 yards and 4 touchdowns on the year. Backup Taylor Martin has added 197 yards and 3 touchdowns. As a team, Kansas is only averaging 3.5 yards per rush. To better put that in perspective, Texas is also averaging 3.5 yards per rush. The Jayhawks will live and die by the passing game. The Longhorns should be able to contain Herbert and force the quarterback to beat them. Wide Receiver/Tight End The one player on the Kansas offense that Texas can not let beat them is Steven Sims Jr. The junior leads the Jayhawks in receiving with 679 yards and 4 touchdowns. He is averaging over 17 yards per reception and will serve as the primary big play threat. Junior Jeremiah Booker will serve as the number two option. Booker has hauled in 21 passes for 282 yards and 2 touchdowns. Junior Ryan Schlader will also hear his name called on offense as well as on kickoff returns. Schlader has caught 18 passes for 146 yards. Kansas has the luxury of utilizing a very good tight end in Ben Johnson. The senior was an honorable mention All-Big 12 member a season ago and is currently the second leading receiver on the team. Johnson has hauled in 25 passes for 307 yards and a touchdown. He also serves a quality blocker and will present some matchup problems for Texas linebackers. Offensive Line Kansas starts an extremely young offensive line. 4 out of 5 starters are underclassmen. Senior right tackle Zach Hannon was a graduate transfer from Nebraska who was receiving the first significant snaps of his collegiate career this season. Hannon missed last week’s game against Baylor with an injury and David Beaty said he is questionable for Saturday’s game. Sophomore left tackle Hakeem Adeniji may be the most talented offensive lineman on the Jayhawks roster. Adeniji started all 12 games in 2016 as a freshman and was honorable mention All-Big 12. Chris Hughes and Andru Tovi will man the two guard positions. Hughes is a redshirt freshman who is in his first year as a starter. Tovi is a junior college transfer who hails from Hawaii. The offensive line is rounded out by sophomore Mesa Ribordy. The offensive line has allowed 21 sacks on the season and has not paved many holes in the running game. The Texas defensive line is coming off another impressive performance and should have no problems getting into the backfield against a young and inexperienced offensive line.
  2. Article by Ryan Bridges Credit apathy and low expectations, but I’m not as upset about this loss as I was about the others. Remove the two idiotic defensive penalties on the first series, hand the officials an NCAA Football rulebook, and embrace the deep ball sooner and with more fervor and the outcome may have been different. I didn’t feel that way watching it live, but taking the emotions out of it, this was a more competitive game than I thought. It was certainly more competitive than it’s been against TCU in recent years. Man Down The best way to think about the challenges the offense is facing is to imagine Texas is playing a man down. Maybe even one and a half or two men down — but definitely on the offensive line. As Tom Herman said, there is no waiver wire, and the notion that players get better during the season is usually false — that’s what the other eight months are for. Once the games start, they’re about as good as they’re going to get. For Texas on the O-line, “as good as they’re going to get” is freaking awful. Texas has good receivers. They have good running backs, whom the coaches chose not to play for half the season. But there are no run or pass plays that are designed to work with 3-4 offensive linemen. Fine, bring in a tight end and try to run it. His is just one more potential missed block. Bring in a tight end, don’t release the back and try to throw it with seven-man protection. That can work, as we saw, but it mostly amounts to 50-50 balls, and it gets less effective the more players the defense drops into coverage. I don’t know what the answer is except time — time for young players to develop, for injured players to get healthy and for new players to enter the pipeline. Here are some of the more cringeworthy examples of the offensive line’s woes. The first play is infuriating because Daniel Young was one Tristan Nickelson block away from going 64 yards for the touchdown. The play is dart — it looks like inside zone except the “frontside” tackle pulls and the back cuts back to follow him. Patrick Vahe is on the ground. Terrell Cuney starts getting worked once Jake McMillon moves on to the second level. And still, if Nickelson gets his body on his man, this is a long run. What else can you do? The second play is zone read. It’s 3rd down, and Texas needs a damn yard. Shane Buechele reads it correctly and keeps the football. All he needs is for Derek Kerstetter to get in the way of a linebacker. The third play is Twitter famous now (Cuney essentially did the same thing on another draw in the fourth quarter) so I’ll be brief. This can’t happen. The coaches are trying to help the line out by doing things to slow down TCU’s front, and they can’t even be bothered to execute those things. Here’s one of those outlandish defensive line stunts that purportedly blew the minds of our linemen, I guess because they don’t watch film ever? Cuney is put in a position where he must — *gasp* — block a person coming right to him. He employs the old speed-bump technique, Buechele does a Sam Ehlinger impression, etc. The second play came after a play I’ll discuss in another clip, but suffice it to say Texas had just gotten hosed. Still, they have a chance to score before the half, with the ball at the TCU 31. Buechele wants to throw quickly to Armanti Foreman on the quick out, but he doesn’t, probably because Kerstetter is being walked back into this face. (This isn’t obvious from the still shot in the video, but let it play; the pressure was very likely to affect the throw and result in a floater/potential pick six.) That’s bad news for Shane, because TCU’s pass rush only has to count to two-Mississippi. Oh, it’s another Tex twist stunt. The next clip is from the ensuing play. The video speaks for itself. The fourth play was discussed during the broadcast. There’s a 90 percent chance Lil’Jordan Humphrey was supposed to run a bubble screen, and probably an 80 percent chance he’d have converted the 4th down. Instead, it’s a … coverage sack, I guess? Chuck and Pray A few weeks ago when Collin Johnson lost his spot to Dorian Leonard, I posited as a reason that Johnson wasn’t making the tough catches that a big receiver is supposed to make. I said 6-foot-6 receivers are supposed to turn 50-50 balls into 70-30 balls. Herman bumped that up a notch after the game and said he considered them 75-25 balls. This is what they’ve been looking for from Johnson (and on the second play, from Humphrey). What the diagram on Humphrey’s catch shows is how Quarters coverage handles vertical routes. The receiver on the solo side is double-covered. The outside receiver on the twins side is one-on-one. And the slot receiver is effectively doubled for the first 10-12 yards, but then he’s one-on-one with the safety. That’s the matchup Texas targeted on the second play. They should have done it more often. I understand the impulse to throw 9 routes to Devin Duvernay, because you know he’s the fastest man on the field. But the defense knows it too, and every opponent so far has treated him as such. There is no point throwing a go route to him against this big of a cushion, especially when TCU is giving you the same matchup on the slot from the previous clip. Let your 6-foot-4 freak of a receiver, with the entire middle of the field to work, try to beat their 5-foot-10 safety, whose last name is literally Small. From just these clips, it should be clear how close Texas was to going into the half trailing 17-14. What the (F)Eck? Alan Eck, the official from the 2015 Oklahoma State-Texas game who I can only assume sleeps on a bed of T. Boone Pickens’ money, is now off taking bids in the NFL, but Saturday’s crew gave me flashbacks. We’ll focus on the two drive killers, again just to illustrate how close this game could have been. The first clip depicts the hosing mentioned above. That man in the funny striped shirt and black pants is called the “umpire,” and one of his jobs is to identify penalties such as defensive holding that occur 15 feet in front of his face. Texas had been moving the ball pretty well on this drive, which started at their own 21. This penalty would have given them the ball at the TCU 21, and at least the chance for Buechele to get sacked three consecutive times instead of only two times. “OK, but officials are human,” you say. “They miss fouls all the time. What’s the big deal?” And you’re right. EXCEPT THAT IN THIS CONTEST AND THIS CONTEST ONLY, THEY ARE ABLE TO REVIEW PLAYS AND CREATE PENALTIES THAT WEREN’T CALLED ON THE FIELD. I couldn’t find anything in the NCAA rulebook that allows officials to create offensive pass interference from instant replay. Instead of 1st & 10 at the Texas 39, the offense is pushed back to 2nd & 23 at its own 13. This kills the drive. It was still just a 10-point game at this point. Texas’ offense is pitiful enough without bad officiating conspiring against it. Protect the Flats Until the last touchdown, TCU’s offensive success was predicated on speed sweeps and the quick game to the flats, then countering when Texas overcompensated. We can pretty much walk through the first three scoring drives and see this. TCU opens the game with a quick screen to the outside. Antwuan Davis did a nice job filling in for P.J. Locke, but he was late to react here. Easy yardage. Later in the drive, TCU comes out in a quad set and Texas doesn’t get lined up. The DBs are playing off the line and are outnumbered. Davis does a better job here, but he can’t finish the play. Easy yardage, exacerbated by Holton Hill’s late hit. The effects of this sideline-to-sideline attack manifest themselves in the next clip, where backside linebacker Malik Jefferson runs past playside linebacker Gary Johnson in pursuit of the sweep action. Mad props to Breckyn Hager for blowing up the right tackle and disrupting the puller, but this should have been a tackle for loss, not a five-yard gain. Now that Texas is overrunning plays to the outside, TCU employs the counter: a gutsy throwback pass on 4th & 2. When you’re away from the action as Malcolm Roach is here, you’ve got to clear the bootleg, the cutback and the reverse before you join your friends in chasing the football. Play with discipline, and you could force the ballcarrier to take a TFL or risk throwing a pick. Hell, they didn’t score it as such, but this was actually a backward pass; play it right and maybe there’s a scrum to recover the fumble. The only bright spot to point out is the effort by Poona Ford. And maybe Chris Nelson’s laughably bad vertical. To the second scoring drive. In the first clip, TCU recognizes the blitz and throws the bubble screen. Hill is too timid — compare his action here with Davis’ in similar clips, including the next clip — and what should be about a one-yard gain turns into six or seven. Next clip: quads (with a tight end as No. 4 this time) again, and again Texas isn’t set. Davis blows up the block and forces the ball back inside to the pursuit, but TCU needed only one yard for the first down. The next play is quads again. Unlike in the previous video, this time Texas matches the numbers by walking Malik out and putting him on the line of scrimmage outside of No. 4. The result is pretty good. If the ball gets outside of Malik, there’s only three defenders (vs. two blockers) between the hashes and the sideline, an area that’s 20 yards wide. By forcing the receiver inside, between the hashes, Malik makes him try to evade between five and seven defenders in an area that’s only about 13 yards wide. The next play, TCU lines up in … you guessed it: a quads set. By now, Todd Orlando is fed up with this gimmicky crap. Matching their numbers wasn’t enough to make them cut it out, so he throws one more player out there. (He can also do this because the fifth eligible receiver is in the backfield instead of split out on the opposite side, where he would necessitate a corner and, so far, a safety. With No. 5 in the backfield, the weak safety can come over and help to the four-receiver side.) What this means is that the weakside cornerback — Kris Boyd, in this case — is basically free to float around against the pass and make sure nothing gets thrown behind him. Instead, he and Malik are both totally mesmerized by the weakest play-fake ever, and the No. 4 receiver is able to stroll up the seam unmolested. A couple of plays later, there’s another bubble screen. TCU motions the wing out and into a position where he can easily reach block Davis, but there’s no discernible adjustment from Davis or anyone else. Predictably, Davis is reached, and Brandon Jones has to run the play down near the sideline. Despite having 1st & Goal at the 2, TCU wasn’t able to punch it in because, for the first time in a while, they couldn’t really handle Texas’ defensive front. So when they got the ball the next time, guess what they did. Cuatro. At first it seems like Orlando has forgotten what was just working for him — there are only three DBs out there, right? Play it through, and you’ll see the weakside safety shuffle over the top and John Bonney, who was lined up in a gap to deter the run, sneak out there as an underneath defender. It’s really 5-on-4 again. Davis again does a great job. Help is slow to arrive, however, and it’s a nice gain. The broadcast cut off the beginning of the next play, but we can get the gist by slowing it down. It’s another counter to go with the barrage of screens to the flats. Texas is in Cover 2 and Hill gets nosy, letting his man jog outside and down the sideline uninhibited. We’re blind to what Jones does, but based on the ground he covered between the moment he left the picture and when he returned, we can safely say a better angle would have put him in position to make a play on this ball. (For what it’s worth, remember that he’s a true sophomore who saw most of his action on special teams last year. I think he’ll get there.) Now inside the red zone, TCU goes back to dinking around the flats. Kenny Trill whips the ball out there like a shortstop. It’s pretty good defense. We’ll save the breakdown that followed for the next video. Basically Almost I’m ignoring the first TCU touchdown because short-yardage plays are usually boring to dissect, and Texas played good defense. The little booger just dove over them. This first clip is a comedy of errors. Texas looks to be running a zone blitz, bringing the nickelback and Mac linebacker off the edge and slanting toward the H-back. The blown assignments pile up in a hurry. Gerald Wilbon has a chance to follow the center to the football and make a Poona-like TFL, but he’s sluggish off the line — and then he gets reached by the backside guard! He winds up TWO gaps behind where he’s supposed to be. Taquon Graham, who is next to Wilbon, gets reached too. He’s also pushed a yard off the ball, which I’d like to say disrupted Gary Johnson’s path to the ball, but it didn’t. Because of Johnson’s bad angle (and Graham’s getting reached), the center is able to block him, and the H-back can move up to the safety. Here’s how this should play out: Johnson slams into the H-back at the line of scrimmage, Graham DOES NOT get reached and gives the playside guard such a fit that the center has to help him out, and Wilbon gets off the ball while it’s still November and trails the center to the ball and the TFL. If you’re looking for a silver lining, the guys I just called out are a junior who’s only been in Austin since like July, a true freshman, and a true sophomore who’s exceeded all expectations so far. Play two was, for me, the backbreaker. Get the stop on 4th & 1 and Texas takes over with maybe 70 yards to go, almost 4:30 on the clock and down by 10. It’s a long shot, but if Buechele connects on a couple long shots of his own, it’s possible. Anyway, this defense shouldn’t be surrendering 4th & shorts — especially not 4th-&-short touchdowns. I’m not certain this is what went wrong, but I’ve got a strong suspicion. With a tighter angle, DeShon Elliott may have been able to make the tackle for no gain. I think Malik saw the huge gap in front of him created by Malcolm Roach failing at first to get to his gap and tried to fill that. But where it went awry, in my estimation, is on the frontside. Chris Nelson knifed through the playside C gap and into the backfield, negating any chance that the ball could bounce outside. I think this is by design. I think he and Hughes were supposed to be exchanging gaps. With Hughes getting a base block from the tight end, he would fold inside to play the B gap, putting him in the path of the back. This is an inside zone-killing stunt, and TCU was running inside zone. I’m not even going to talk about the missed tackle that followed.
  3. By Jameson McCausland The Texas defense did all they could to help the Longhorns leave Fort Worth with a victory, but it was not enough. Kenny Hill and the TCU offense used a penalty-aided opening drive TD and a Darius Anderson late 4th quarter touchdown run to pull away for a 24-7 win. Let’s take a look at how the defense and special teams graded out. Defensive Line It was another good game in the trenches for the defense. Great play from Poona Ford, Chris Nelson, Charles Omenihu and Malcolm Roach helped hold the Horned Frogs to a respectable 3.8 yards per carry. Aside from the Maryland game and stretches of the Oklahoma game, the defensive line has dominated in the run game. Every week I feel like Gerald Wilbon has taken a step forward, and his performance on Saturday was one of his best of the season. Wilbon made his presence felt in the backfield several times. While huge improvements have been made in the secondary and at linebacker, the strides being made by players on the defensive line has been the biggest surprise of the season. For the first time in years, nearly every defensive lineman is playing sound fundamental football and doing their job well. Grade: A- Linebacker Malik Jefferson led the Longhorns in tackles with 10. The improvements he’s made in taking better angles in the run game and showing more aggression in rushing the passer has to have NFL scouts smiling. He still has to work on some stuff to work on, including not filling the hole that Darius Anderson’s touchdown run that put the game out of reach, but the good far outweigh the bad. If how Gary Johnson has played the last few games is any indication to how he will look replacing Jefferson next year, the defense will be just fine.. #33 always finds himself around the football and totaled 9 tackles on Saturday. Naashon Hughes and Anthony Wheeler played sparingly and did not do anything of note. Grade: B+ Secondary The roughest game in the secondary came from Brandon Jones. Jones had an unnecessary personal foul penalty on TCU’s opening drive and then got juked out of his shoes on Anderson’s 4th quarter touchdown run. The entire secondary is still prone to the double move and pump fake, but Jones in particular bit several times on fakes and let guys get behind him. Holton Hill also had a rough opening drive, but responded with a good game. You didn’t hear Kris Boyd’s name called a lot, which is a good thing. Deshon Elliott and Antwaun Davis showed well in run support. Davis also looked good in pass support, including blowing up a screen pass by driving his man into the receiver that had the ball. It is safe to say that Davis earned more playing time going forward, even with the the possibility that PJ Locke returns this week. Although it is disappointing that the secondary was unable to get a turnover, but unit played well enough to give Texas the win. Grade: B Special Teams Joshua Rowland did not come close on his only field goal. His reliability outside of 40 yards is not good and Tom Herman needs to open up the kicking competition once again this week. Michael Dickson boomed a 76 yard punt and turned his 9 punts into an average of 50.8 yards. Texas is fortunate to have a weapon like Dickson considering how often they are having to punt right now. The return game was not a factor in the loss, with Reggie Hemphill Mapps returning 2 punts for a total of 7 yards. Grade: C-
  4. The Texas Longhorns (4-4, 3-2) will face the TCU Horned Frogs at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth on Saturday evening. TCU (#10 AP, #12 Coaches Poll, #8 College Football Playoff Ranking) has beaten Texas three-straight, including a 31-9 victory last season in Austin. Texas is 2-0 in conference road games this season, while TCU maintains an undefeated record at home this season. TCU head coach Gary Patterson holds a 19-0 record at home when playing as a Top-10 ranked team by the Associated Press. The Horned Frogs are currently ranked #10 in the latest AP Poll. A win by the Longhorns would propel the team to a 5-4 overall record, leaving them one win shy of bowl eligibility. Texas hosts Kansas next weekend in Austin and has remaining games against West Virginia (11/18 – Morgantown, WV) and Texas Tech (11/25 – Austin, TX). Texas Longhorns (4-4, 3-2) vs. TCU Horned Frogs (7-1, 4-1) When: Saturday, November 3, 2017 Kickoff: 6:15 pm Venue: Amon G. Carter Stadium Location: Fort Worth, Texas TV: ESPN Current Line: TCU -7.5 Series Record: Texas leads TCU 62-24-1 Last meeting: TCU beat Texas 31-9 (11/25/2016, Austin, TX) Relevant Articles/Information Grading the Offense: Texas vs. Baylor Grading the Defense: Texas vs. Baylor Baylor Film Review: Clearing the Trap Game Get to know the TCU Offense Get to Know the TCU Defense/Special Teams Texas Longhorns Depth Chart vs. TCU
  5. It’d be easy to look at this win as a gimme against a bad, winless team, but it didn’t have to be. Baylor lost to Oklahoma and West Virginia by a combined 10 points. There was a sense that they were poised to knock off somebody, and Texas — playing without its starting quarterback — looked like a good bet to be it. After all, as rival fans are eager to tell anyone who will listen, Tom Herman’s 2016 Houston squad lost three games that it was picked to win by an average of 14 points (as if it wasn’t obvious those players knew their coach was leaving and had quit). This was a solid, suffocating victory by a banged-up football team. The Best Offense Is a Good Defense Texas’ defense has scored 15 percent of the team’s touchdowns this season. I don’t know where that ranks nationally, but it’s probably pretty good. Here’s one — DeShon Elliott’s second of the year and nation-leading sixth interception: Todd Orlando elects to put his cornerbacks on islands against the No. 1 receivers, which gives him three defenders to cover the remaining two receivers. With boundary corner Holton Hill playing as well as he has, Elliott is free to roam. The No. 2 receiver runs a shallow cross, so Malik Jefferson makes an “in” call to let John Bonney know someone’s coming. (I always enjoy it when you can see players communicating on the back end.) That lets Malik look for work, which effectively means the remaining receiver on the trips side is getting triple covered. I don’t know what Zach Smith thought he saw, but it’s clear the pressure by Poona Ford contributed to the high throw. This is team defense. Block Somebody Team defense gets easier when the offense blows its blocking assignments. The Bears are trying to run dart, which looks like inside zone except the “frontside” tackle pulls and leads the way for the back on a designed cutback. For whatever reason, Baylor decided to treat Taquon Graham like the most dangerous man on the field and triple teamed him, leaving Charles Omenihu unblocked. The quarterback is reading Bonney on a run-pass option to determine whether to hand it off or sling it out to the Z receiver on a smoke route. The running back is barely on his second step by the time Omenihu is wrapping him up. It’s a shame for Baylor, too, because it looks like this might have been a big play for them. ESPN U’s coverage was terrible, so we’ll never know. ESPN U Is Trash, Exhibit B I’m not actually going to break down Exhibit B — Baylor’s lone touchdown — because video of it hardly exists. The play was about a quarter of the way over by the time they started showing it, and the idiot director decided the appropriate shot for the replay was ground-level near the pylon. The play itself was just inside zone, but because of Baylor’s formation (4×0), the only true linebacker Texas had in the box was Malik. I don’t care enough to try to decipher any more than that. This one I can make sense of. Baylor lines up in a 3×1 closed formation. Texas plays Cover 2 on the closed (tight end) side, with Kris Boyd as the low/force player and Bonney as the deep-half player behind him. Baylor runs what looks like power read, and Bonney — whose job demands that he play the pass until the ball crosses the line of scrimmage — runs up to help. Boyd could have helped him by attacking the H-back’s “block” and making the read clearer, but Bonney still had no business sticking his nose in there. It’s Nice to Have a Two-Deep at QB I’m not yet sure what to make of Shane Buechele’s performance because I haven’t studied every snap, but it was good enough to win comfortably. Let’s check out his touchdowns, then his interception. Buechele threw two touchdowns against Texas Tech last season to Collin Johnson on the concept against roughly the same coverage. Baylor’s in man coverage across the board, blitzing everyone who doesn’t have a man. Texas wisely opts to move the pocket to buy time. The critical block is Chris Warren’s on the edge toward the sprintout. If that guy gets outside and upfield, it forces Buechele to either stop (and get sacked) or to drift away from the line of scrimmage, making the throw infinitely more difficult. The passing concept itself is simple: The two outside receivers run short routes to keep their defenders close to the line of scrimmage while Lil’Jordan Humphrey runs a corner route behind them, away from the defender’s leverage. When it’s blocked well and the intended receiver is 6-foot-4, it’s very hard to defend. The throw is perfect. Also, Buechele’s ankle looks fine. This isn’t the only time Baylor gave up a touchdown run with this zone blitz called. They should be OK — they’re slanting toward the run and have one blitzer each to handle the dive and the keep on the zone read. From the end zone angle, however, the flaws are pretty obvious. The defensive end gets washed waaaaaay down; he’s at the top of the numbers by the time he’s out of the picture. That leaves an enormous void for the rest of the defense to fill. The deep safety should still be able to make the touchdown-saving tackle, but he likely had his eyes on the three-receiver side and was late to respond. It’s easy from there. Buechele had one WTF? throw, and I’ve got three theories that could explain it. One is that he just thought he could get the ball over the cornerback. The other two are brought up in the video: that he didn’t see the coverage change late, or that he thought he had a free play. Before the snap, it looks like Baylor is playing a one-high coverage like Man Free or Cover 3, but at the snap one defender drops back and the other safety probably shifted so that they could cover the deep areas outside the hashes. A third defender drops back to the deep middle. Buechele may have thought that he just needed to “look off” the single deep safety before throwing the fade the other way, when in fact that fade was being high-low bracketed. Maybe this ball could have gotten through if it was earlier and had more air under it, but I didn’t see an angle that showed that definitively. Buechele is still late on some throws, and I haven’t yet seen evidence that he’s able to update his pre-snap read when the post-snap picture changes (sophomore caveats apply). But again, it’s also possible Buechele thought this was going to be a free play and thus wasn’t concerned about making the risky throw. Better Runners, or Worse Competition? The freshman backs definitely hit holes harder and put in more effort to stay upright than the older backs have, but it’s hard to know how much of that dazzling tackle-breaking ability was due to the competition. Let’s look at the runs. This is the zone blitz from Buechele’s touchdown run – at least, I think it is; it’s hard to know since this is ESPN U. (Did anyone else notice how they kept showing our coaches signaling in plays? What the hell was that?) It’s inside zone again, except instead of having a read element on the edge, Cade Brewer is there to cut off the blitzers. Then Denzel Okafor gets away with a blatant hold. Anyway, a touchdown is a touchdown. The final touchdown was also on inside zone, with Baylor’s front again stunting all over the place. It appears they were asking a 7-technique to long stick into the backside A gap, but right guard Jake McMillon kept him from getting there. There was still an inside linebacker and safety who should have been able to clean it up, but they didn’t. A pitiful tackling attempt by a defensive tackle (the Bears’ only four-star signee from the 2016 class) was all that stood between Daniel Young and the end zone. The blocking has been dreadful, but the older backs haven’t been helping themselves. The freshmen deserve more carries; they’ve deserved more carries for weeks. It sucks that Toneil Carter got hurt, but maybe Young will at least get some touches against TCU now. Other recipes for offensive success next weekend: Get LJH the ball, and pray for Reggie Hemphill-Mapps’ health. Onward.
  6. 2018 Football Schedule Released

    The Big 12 Conference unveiled 2018 team football schedules on Thursday morning, and the Longhorns will begin play on September 1st against Maryland. The opener will take place at FedEx Field, home of the Washington Redskins, in Landover, Maryland. Additional non-conference games include Tulsa (September 8) and USC (September 15), both of which will be played in Austin. Texas opens conference play at home against TCU on September 22 and finished regular season play in a matchup with the Kansas Jayhawks on November 23 in Lawrence. Full 2018 Texas Longhorns Schedule 2018 Texas Football Schedule Sept. 1 – at Maryland Sept. 8 – TULSA Sept. 15 – USC Sept. 22 – TCU* Sept. 29 – at Kansas State* Oct. 6 – vs. Oklahoma* (Dallas) Oct. 13 – BAYLOR* Oct. 27 – at Oklahoma State* Nov. 3 – WEST VIRGINIA* Nov. 10 – at Texas Tech* Nov. 17 – IOWA STATE* Nov. 23 – at Kansas* Home games noted in bold *Signifies away game
  7. By Jameson McCausland Texas (3-4, 2-2) will travel up I-35 to Waco on Saturday to face Baylor (0-7, 0-4). The Bears are coming off a 38-36 loss to West Virginia and are still searching for their first win of the season. The Longhorns hope to get back on track and keep their bowl hopes alive. Let’s take a look at what Baylor has on offense: Quarterback The Bears have had 3 different quarterbacks take meaningful snaps so far this season. Arizona transfer Anu Solomon opened the season as the starter, but was replaced by Zach Smith, who had starting experience from his 2016 freshman campaign. Smith was not 100% last week and was replaced by true freshman Charlie Brewer. Brewer finished the night 8 for 13 with 109 yards and 2 touchdowns, adding 10 carries for 48 yards. The former Lake Travis product brings a running dimension to the offense that Smith lacks. In his weekly news conference, Head Coach Matt Rhule said that if the game was played tomorrow, Smith would be the starting quarterback. Smith has thrown for 1,421 yards and 8 touchdowns with 6 interceptions on the year. He has a tremendous arm and was recruited by Art Briles to run the Veer and Shoot offense. Rhule has brought a more traditional offense to Waco and it has taken Smith some time to adjust, as his 53.5% completion percentage shows. Texas will most likely see Brewer and Smith both take snaps at QB on Saturday. As any coach would, Rhule has not totally tipped his hand on who is going to receive the start, but Brewer’s ability to run is something Baylor will attempt to utilize and see if Texas can handle. Running Back Baylor has struggled to run the football this year. Four different running backs have received carries, with freshman John Lovett leading the team in rushing yards (403). Lovett suffered a minor toe injury last week, but is expected to play on Saturday. Junior Terrance Williams is actually listed atop of the depth chart, but has seen a significant decrease in production compared to his solid sophomore season that saw him earn Honorable Mention All-Big 12. Williams only has 155 rushing yards in 2017, and was almost kicked off the team a few weeks ago before being given a second chance by players and coaches. Sophomore JaMycal Hasty and freshman Trestan Ebner have also received carries, with Ebner having his best game of the season last week against West Virginia, with 3 carries for 54 yards and a touchdown while also catching 5 passes for 109 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Baylor coaching staff seems to be content on having a youth movement and letting the underclassmen get experience, which could mean a lot of carries for Ebner and Lovett. Regardless of who is in the backfield, Texas needs to be solid in defending running backs out of the backfield, as Baylor loves to use them in the passing game. Wide Receiver/Tight End If there is one player that Texas can not afford to let beat them, it’s Denzel Mims. The sophomore has 34 catches for 685 yards and 7 touchdowns on the season. Mims has great speed and ball skills, but there is surely some confidence in the secondary for Texas after holding James Washington in check the entire game last week. Freshman Gavin Holmes saw significant playing time against West Virginia and is listed as the starter opposite of Mims. Holmes has only hauled in 6 passes for 84 yards, but was praised by Rhule after the game. Tony Nicholson starts at inside receiver and has 28 catches for 239 yards. The receiving unit suffered a big blow when junior Chris Platt suffered a season ending injury. Baylor is still trying to find some consistency outside of Mims, and they are having to rely on a number of underclassmen for production. This is a favorable matchup for Texas and if Kris Boyd continues to show the improvement that he showed last week, the Longhorns should be able to slow down the passing attack. Junior tight end Jordan Feuerbacher was a preseason All-Big 12 member after being named second team All-Big 12 in 2016. Feuerbacher has caught 2 passes for 25 yards, but has been an effective blocker and uses his 6’4 271 pound frame well. Offensive Line Similar to Texas, the Bears have had their struggles along the offensive line. The unit has allowed an average of 3.14 sacks per game, ranking them 115 out of 129 FBS schools. Junior left tackle Mo Porter is a former junior college standout has perhaps been the most consistent player along the line. Freshman and former Texas commit Xavier Newman starts at left guard and has experienced some growing pains as a freshman. Former tight end Sam Tecklenberg started the season at guard before being moved to center to make room for Newman. The right side of the offensive line offers the most experience. Right guard Blake Blackmar and right tackle Patrick Lawrence both have 20 starts of experience. It is no secret that depth has hurt Baylor along the offensive line. The Bears are only averaging 3.8 yards per carry and have struggled running the ball against many of the teams they have faced so far. This is a unit that Poona Ford, Charles Omenihu and Malcolm Roach should be able to handle. 3 and 4 man rushes getting home for Texas would benefit the defense greatly and help get extra defenders on Mims and running backs coming out of the backfield.
  8. By Ryan Bridges I won’t repeat my rant from last week. This team is close — objectively closer than they’ve been in years. (Eleven of their 21 losses the past three seasons came by 14 points or more. There’s some teams left on the schedule that could pull that off, but it hasn’t happened yet.) The offensive coaches aren’t doing a good job. The players aren’t taking advantage of enough opportunities either. Let’s rip the Band-Aid off and start there. Side note: I’m throwing this together in a hurry because I’m preparing to move across an ocean later this week. I gave the videos a lot of attention but the text was rushed at the end. At least you’re not paying $9.95/mo. for this. The Last Play Yes, this was the same route concept against man coverage that Clemson used to beat Alabama in the national championship last year. I hate the idea of running it to the left, but if I’m stretching for excuses, maybe there were defensive tendencies the coaches factored into their decision. Seeing the play-call and knowing that Reggie Hemphill-Mapps was out, the personnel makes more sense than it did at the time: Collin Johnson would have been a decoy where Dorian Leonard lined up; Lorenzo Joe is a smart player who they thought could execute the pick; and Jerrod Heard was the next man up after Hemphill-Mapps. I like the idea of having Lil’Jordan Humphrey out there somewhere, but that’s not egregious in my opinion. Two man defenders lined up at the same level against receivers with tight splits are begging to be picked. Heard did not take a good angle but he was still briefly open because his man had to bend around his teammate. I’m not interested in arguing about degrees of openness or whether the result would have been 1st & Goal or touchdown — this ball has to come out. Missed Opportunities P.J. Locke had a chance to recover the fumble at the 1-yard line on the drive that ended with the game-tying field goal, but someone blew a whistle, so I can’t blame him too much. There were also like four dropped passes on offense, and this offense isn’t good enough to drop passes. But let’s look at the two missed interceptions, because there’s some interesting schematic stuff. The first play is a good example of what makes Todd Orlando’s defense so confusing to offenses. The boundary side is playing Cover 2 and the field side is playing Quarters. That’s nothing fancy. Four players will be rushing the quarterback. You’d expect it to be the three down linemen and a linebacker — it’s almost always been Malik Jefferson. Instead, Charles Omenihu drops into the middle hook, Gary Johnson blitzes the B gap and John Bonney blitzes off the edge. I’m not sure what Mason Rudolph was thinking, but this throw was never going to be a good idea. An interception there gives Texas the ball at its own 39 or 40; after the punt, they took over at the -19. The receiver did a great job becoming a defender, though. The implications of the second drop, which was truly a drop, were much worse. Texas’ offense would have taken over at the Oklahoma State 36 with 1:07 left to play — four more yards and they’d be in range to attempt to replicate Josh Rowland’s season long of 49 yards. The defensive call exemplifies what the defense did most of the game: rushing three and playing three-deep, five-under zone coverage. Much like opposing teams have been doing to Texas’ offense, the Longhorns defense challenged Oklahoma State to run the ball, and they couldn’t consistently do it. Coverage Sacks and Quickness Sacks Breckyn “Brecklyn” Hager is a one-trick pony, but he’s probably the best on the team at that trick. The first of Hager’s two sacks was the definition of a coverage sack (Rudolph had close to six seconds in the pocket). This drive was Oklahoma State’s chance to answer Texas’ touchdown. It was 3rd & 4 near midfield, and Texas was playing Cover 2. There’s absolutely no one open. Good job, good effort. Hager’s second sack came in an equally critical situation. Without it, the Cowboys may have been able to attempt a field goal to end the half or get into range to run a play other than a Hail Mary. Note that it’s a three-man rush again with three-deep, five-under coverage on the back end. It’s a huge advantage for a defense if it has a pass rusher who can win one-on-ones when he gets them. Malik’s Game-Saving Tackle Last week, Naashon Hughes and Malik Jefferson teamed up to make back-to-back tackles that gave Texas’ offense the ball and a chance to win the game. Malik did it again on Saturday. 3rd & 3 at the Texas 13, five minutes left in the game. Oklahoma State runs zone read, with Rudolph pulling the ball and trying to run off-tackle. Technically, Bonney would be responsible for the quarterback, but he’s nine yards deep. Malik has the frontside A gap, but when he sees Rudolph pull the football, he scrapes over the top and makes the open-field tackle. The result: OK State attempted, and missed, a 29-yard field goal. Bullets Dodged It seemed like Texas had more lucky breaks go against it than in its favor — especially when it came to the officiating — but it caught a break here. They’re again running their three-deep, five-under zone. Oklahoma State is in a 3×1 set. They run four verticals, with the #3 receiver occupying the deep middle defender (Bonney). This puts Brandon Jones over the top of the #2 and #1 receivers, but fortunately he has the cornerback and nickel trailing them. In theory, this should force Rudolph to float the ball over the shallow defenders, hopefully giving Jones time to intersect the route. Somehow, Jones is slow to react to the throw. Splicing the two shots together, we know Rudolph started his throwing motion when the receiver was between the 35- and 30-yard lines. The ball looks to be at least two-thirds of the way there as Jones is planting his foot in response. Almost certainly he wasn’t disciplined with his eyes. And I don’t know what was wrong with his cleats, but he’s way too athletic to be stumbling and slipping around out there like he was. Speaking of poor eye discipline, for the second straight week we have a Texas DB looking for the football while out of phase with the receiver, enabling the receiver to get even more separation. The ball isn’t going to you, it’s going to him — focus your energy on catching up. Run D Locke seemed like he had a rough game again. He was tentative against the run on Oklahoma State’s lone touchdown, getting owned by a receiver who gave up 30 pounds to him. What I’ve seen of Malcolm Roach at defensive end this season has been mostly disappointing. He should get stronger, but he just hasn’t looked like the same player that he was playing in space as a freshman. He didn’t read his key on this 3rd down on a drive that led to the game-tying field goal. He’s supposed to drop back into the middle hook area, but only if he reads pass. He has to play the run first. He abandons the edge, and the Cowboys narrowly convert. Here’s a more positive play by the defensive front — one that potentially saved Texas from falling behind by 14 in the early second quarter. OSU runs outside zone, and Texas slants that way and brings a blitz off the backside edge. Poona Ford is a goddamn monster, breaks through and forces the cutback, right into the waiting arms of Chris Nelson. First man wraps up, second man rips at the football. Hell of a play. Ehlinger Every game, Ehlinger has made a number of plays that Shane Buechele can’t make. Against Oklahoma State, he made fewer of those types of plays than he had in any previous game. I don’t know whether that was due to linger effects from the totally-not-a-concussion he suffered last week, or whether it was because there’s enough tape on him now that defenses have him figured out (the same thing that happened with Heard and Buechele). Still, it’s hard to look good behind this offensive line. They had worked their way downfield behind a couple of nice runs by Ehlinger and had converted a 4th down, putting them inside the OSU 30. Then the right side of the line does this. The splits is not a good position to start a play for any player. Terrell Cuney gave it a shot anyway. Then he kicked it up a notch by not helping Derek Kerstetter at all. Against a twist stunt, it’s not enough to give the lineman a friendly nudge in your teammate’s direction. I’m running out of time to type more notes, so briefly, OSU’s coverage to the trips side was interesting — they were trying hard to take away the WR screen, but Texas had Hemphill coming across the formation for a quasi screen anyway. Sam’s got to throw this ball away. And briefly, the touchdown. I haven’t been able to find this cable cam view in the high-quality version of the game that I saved, so here it is in potato definition. I guess because this play yielded points once, Tim Beck decided to try it a hundred more times. I don’t know. I don’t think it worked again. But let’s celebrate the time when a two-yard gain on it was enough for six points.
  9. Injury Update - Post OSU

    Reggie Hemphill-Mapps suffered a sprained knee and the staff is hopeful he will be back at practice mid-late this week.
  10. Injury Update - Post OSU

    Ehlinger and Shackleford are in concussion protocol. Herman mentioned Kyle Porter will be back in Action on Saturday, as he is symptom-free.
  11. Smart Texas Basketball 2017 is here

    Great read and well worth the $4.99!
  12. University of Texas safety DeShon Elliott was named a semifinalist for the 2017 Paycom Jim Thorpe Award, which recognizes the top defensive back in college football. Elliott, a junior, joins 12 other players on a semifinalist list which will be whittled down to just three players on November 20th. The winner will be announced at ESPN’s College Football Awards Show, and will be broadcast live on December 7th, 2017. Elliott has five interceptions on the season, 21 solo tackles, 11 assisted tackles, 1.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. He is the only player on the list from the Big 12 Conference. Complete list of Jim Thorpe Award Semifinalists: Marcus Allen – Penn State Quin Blanding – Virginia Jalen Davis – Utah State DeShon Elliott – Texas Minkah Fitzpatrick – Alabama Grant Haley – Penn State Derwin James – Florida State Jeremy McDuffie – Duke Parry Nickerson – Tulane Justin Reid – Stanford Dominick Sanders – Georgia Levi Wallace – Alabama Denzel Ward – Ohio State Texas has had two players win the award since its inception in 1986 (Michael Huff, 2005 & Aaron Ross, 2006). USC’s Adoree’ Jackson won the award in 2016
  13. Augusta, GA (October 16, 2017) - The Augusta Sports Council and the Ray Guy Award are proud to announce Michael Dickson of the University of Texas as the Ray Guy Award Punter of the Week for Week 7 games. This is Dickson's second time this season as the Ray Guy Award Punter of the Week.Dickson punted 5 times during the Saturday game against Oklahoma for 275 yards. His gross average for the game was 55 yards and his net average was 51.2 yards making him first on the list for NCAA net average and second for NCAA gross average. Two of Dickson's punts were marked inside Oklahoma's 20-yard line and his long punt for the game was 69 yards. Current Watch List NomineesAdam Nunez, TCUAJ Cole III, NC StateAlan Luna, UTEPAlex Kinney, University of ColoradoAustin Barnes, East Carolina UniversityAustin Parker, DukeAustin Seibert, OklahomaBailey Cate, Old DominionBilly Kinney, West Virginia UniversityBlake Gillikin, Penn StateBlake Johnson, University of ArkansasCameron Nizialek, University of GeorgiaColin Downing, Iowa StateCorey Bojorquez, University of New MexicoCorey Fatony, MizzouCorliss Waitman, University of South AlabamaDane Roy, University of HoustonDerek Adams, Kent StateDom Maggio, Wake Forest UniversityDrew Galitz, BaylorHayden Whitehead, IndianaJack Fox, RiceJake Bailey, StanfordJake Collins, WKUJake Hartbarger, Michigan StateJK Scott, AlabamaJoe Schopper, PurdueJohnny Townsend, FloridaJonathan Hernandez, USFJonny Linehan, BYUJoseph Davidson, Bowling GreenJosh Growden, LSUKaare Vedvik, MarshallLogan Cooke, Mississippi StateLogan Laurent, University of MassachusettsMatt Bonadies, Middle TennesseeMichael Carrizosa, San Jose StateMichael Dickson, TexasMichael Sleep-Dalton, Arizona StateMitch Wishnowsky, UtahNick Porebski, Oregon StateReid Budrovich, USCRyan Santoso, MinnesotaRyan Winslow, PittsburghShane Tripucka, Texas A&MSpencer Smith, MemphisSterling Hofrichter, SyracuseSteven Coutts, CaliforniaThomas Bennett, TulsaTom Sheldon, North CarolinaTrevor Daniel, TennesseeTyler Newsome, University of Notre DameWade Lees, MarylandWill Spiers, ClemsonZach Sinor, Oklahoma StateRay Guy Award TimelineMonday, October 30 - Nomination Forms DueTuesday, October 31 - Final Candidate List announcedThursday, November 16 - Semifinalists AnnouncedTuesday, November 21 - Three Finalists AnnouncedThursday, December 7 - The Home Depot College Football Awards Show (Atlanta, GA)January 2018 - All-Area Football Banquet (Augusta, GA)About the Ray Guy AwardThe Augusta Sports Council created the Ray Guy Award in 2000 to honor Thomson, Georgia native and College and Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee, Ray Guy. Among the statistics used to identify the winner is net punting average, number of times punt is downed or kicked out of bounds inside the opponents 20-yard line, total yardage punted, average returned yardage and percentage of punts not returned with particular emphasis placed on net punting average. The winner must display team leadership, self-discipline and have a positive impact on the team's success.About the Augusta Sports CouncilThe Augusta Sports Council (ASC) enriches the quality of life and economic well-being for the Augusta metropolitan area by supporting and attracting sporting activities. To learn more, visitwww.augustasportscouncil.org (http://www.augustasportscouncil.org ) .About the National College Football Awards AssociationThe Ray Guy Award is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which encompasses college football's most prestigious awards. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA and its 22 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935. Visit ncfaa.org to learn more about our story.
  14. Article by Jameson McCausland Following a 29-24 loss to Oklahoma, let’s take a took a look at how the Texas offense performed: Quarterback The stat line does not fully reflect the type of day Sam Ehlinger had. Despite poor offensive line play and zero running game (outside of himself), the true freshman still had the Longhorns in position to win a big game. Ehlinger finished the day 19 of 39 passing for 278 yards and a touchdown. He also added 22 carries for 110 yards and a touchdown. He has basically become the running game for Texas and he has embraced the role. If there was any doubt about whether Ehlinger would be the starter going forward, it was erased on Saturday. It was a far from perfect performance by #11, though. He still needs to improve his touch on the deep ball and his overall accuracy. Even his long completion to Devin Duvernay could have been a touchdown with slightly better ball placement. Ehlinger already has an excellent feel for the pocket, but there are still times where he will leave the pocket when the offensive line is actually holding up, and it benefits rushers. Texas has basically hitched their entire offensive identity to Ehlinger, and while he still has a lot to improve on, he is showing the heart and swagger a Longhorn quarterback hasn’t possessed in quite some time. There are a lot of question marks on the offensive side of the ball, but quarterback is not one of them. Grade: B+ Running Back Kyle Porter, Chris Warren and Toneil Carter combined for 14 carries for 17 yards. They simply had no room to run and were not able to create anything, with Porter owning the longest carry of the day for 5 yards. The running game has disappeared in every game other than against San Jose State, and there is no reason to believe that it will be different the second half the season. I am giving the running backs an incomplete in the the run game because it is unfair to try to give a grade with how poorly the offensive line played and how early Texas abandoned the use of running backs in the run game. Luckily, Texas was able to find ample success using the running backs in the passing game out of the backfield. Kyle Porter was used in the screen game twice and totaled 31 yards receiving, including a 16 yard touchdown. Chris Warren gathered in 4 catches for 56 yards, and showed excellent hands and balance out of the backfield. It is encouraging to see an emphasis being placed on including the running backs in the passing game because Texas has 3 backs who are more than capable as receivers. Toneil Carter did not record a reception, which is surprising because he is widely considered to be the most electric of the 3. Overall, the running backs did a good job of what they were asked to do, which was help help out the offensive line in pass protection and contribute in the passing game. Run grade: Incomplete Grade for everything else: B Wide Receiver/Tight End It was another good game from a receiving unit that is getting big plays from a variety of players. Top receiver Collin Johnson was held in check, catching 2 passes for 26 yards, and that was maybe the biggest disappointment of the game besides the offensive line. Reggie Hemphill Mapps had another great game, hauling in 4 passes for 42 yards, including several impressive catches in the second half. Fellow slot receiver Lil’ Jordan Humphrey lead the team in receiving with 4 catches for 56 yards. Devin Duvernay got his second reception of the season on a huge 42 yard pass. Texas was able to get by with a quiet game from Collin Johnson because of the play making abilities of Humphrey and Hemphill-Mapps. The shiftiness and physicality of Humphrey made him a huge matchup problem, and Hemphill Mapps benefited greatly from the use of the short and intermediate passing game. Overall, the receivers had another good day and it seems that Ehlinger is beginning to build a good rapport with his favorite targets. Cade Brewer has taken over as the primary tight end and played very well in his first Red River Showdown. Brewer had 2 catches for 27 yards and showed good run after the catch ability. With Texas continuing to use a lot of 10 personnel groupings, Brewer saw time flexed out as a wideout. Kendall Moore saw some snaps, but has been regulated to strictly blocking duties and struggled with that. Grade: B Offensive Line It’s hard to sugarcoat what happened to the offensive line on Saturday. Obo Okoronkwo lived in the Texas backfield the entire game and could not be stopped by any lineman. Denzel Okafor and Derek Kerstetter both struggled with a lot of outside pressure the Sooners were bringing. Terrell Cuney was not as effective at guard as he was at Center, and Patrick Vahe again struggled when he was asked to pass block as many times as he was. Zach Shackelford finally fixed some of the snap issues he was having, but otherwise struggled similarly to his 4 fellow lineman. Oklahoma routinely got to Sam Ehlinger with 3 and 4 man rushes. Texas could not run the ball at all, with the only success coming off scrambles from Sam Ehlinger and quarterback keepers where Ehlinger used nothing but pure grit to pick up yardage. In pass protection, the coaches had to often ask a running back to stay in to block so Ehlinger would have longer than 1 second to throw the ball. In a game like this, it is known that winning the trenches most likely means winning the game, and the offensive line failed badly at giving Texas any type of advantage up front. Run Block Grade: F Pass Block Grade: F
  15. Staff Predictions - Texas vs. OU

    The Longhorns and Sooners will square off for the 112th time in history on Saturday afternoon with high-stakes on the line. Last year Oklahoma got the better of Charlie Strong and the Longhorns 45-40, and went on to finish the season at 11-2, which included a win against Auburn in the Sugar Bowl. The Longhorns finished the 2016 campaign at 5-7 and failed to make a bowl game for the second consecutive season. The HornSports Staff give their predictions on the outcome of Saturday’s Red River Showdown. Jameson McCausland I truly believe that the Longhorns are starting to hit their stride. The emergence of QB Sam Ehlinger and the adjustments the Longhorns have made on offense will keep them competitive in every the rest of the season. Texas hired Tom Herman for games like these. His teams always seem to show up in big games. I expect Oklahoma to come out aggressive after what happened last Saturday against Iowa State. Baker Mayfield is going to have his moments, but I have confidence in Todd Orlando’s defense to make plays. On offense, this is the type of matchup where I see Collin Johnson and Reggie Hemphill Mapps having huge games. Texas should be able to have ample success throwing the ball, and I think that will open up the running game more than we’ve seen in recent weeks. If you would have asked me about this game 3 weeks ago, I would have said Texas’ chances to win this game were slim. Since then, Texas has seen marked improvements on both sides of the ball. Combine that with the injuries and defensive struggles Oklahoma is having to deal with, and I believe Texas will get a huge win in the Cotton Bowl on Saturday. Score Prediction: Texas 31, Oklahoma 28 Daniel Seahorn This is an interesting game to pick for me. Oklahoma comes in to the matchup just off an embarrassing loss to Iowa State at home while Texas is coming off a big double overtime victory over the Purple Wizard and Kansas State. The Sooners will be looking for redemption in s major way and will have a chance to make it back to back victories over their conference foe. I expect them to come out pissed off after last week, but it shouldn’t take much to get them up for this game all things considered. While Baker Mayfield and the Sooner offense will no doubt get theirs offensively, the Sooner defense has been in a very giving mood when it comes to points lately. After not allowing more than 20 points in their first three games, both Baylor and Iowa State put up 41 and 38 respectively. Barring a terrible game plan and execution of it, I think Sam Ehlinger and the Texas offense will put some points on the board. And while he is working with different players defensively, Todd Orlando has proven before he can scheme up a game plan that can give Mayfield and the Sooner offense trouble. Anything can happen in rivalry games and as most coaches will tell you, you just throw the records out the window. I think we will see plenty of points in this one and I also think it ends up being tight. I’m feeling froggy after being proven wrong last week. I’m taking the Longhorns over the Sooners. Score Prediction: Texas 38, Oklahoma 35 Ross Labenske Texas-OU. The Red River Rivalry. One of the best rivalries in all of college football. And the game on Saturday will prove exactly why. Oklahoma, led by Bake Mayfield, the quarterback with the highest QBR in the nation, will be looking to bounce back after their home upset at the hands of the Cyclones. What’s also exciting about this particular match-up between the blueblood rivals is that this is the first time since 1947 that both universities are coming into the rivalry game with a new head coach, (which Texas won 34-14). What’s good for Texas is that the Longhorns have won 2 of the last 4 and are 6-3 in the last 9 match-ups that Texas has been unranked and OU has been ranked in the rivalry game. Texas and it’s wide-receiving core, led by whoever starts at quarterback, will have to come out swinging early, as the inconsistent running game might be beat around by the Sooners front 7. But if Texas can challenge the OU secondary, which gave up 343 yards to a quarterback who had thrown 2 passes prior to the game, then maybe the Longhorns can make something interesting of it. I predict the Longhorns getting the upset, winning 34- 31 and being in the driver’s seat for the Big-XII championship. Score Prediction: Texas 34, Oklahoma 31 Aaron Carrara Oklahoma is reeling from a home loss to an unranked opponent that hasn’t beaten them in 26 years, while Texas is riding high after a double OT home win against Kansas State. This is a pivotal game for both teams, not solely because of the recruiting implications involved, but because of second-half season hopes. The Longhorns have momentum and a formidable quarterback in Sam Ehlinger, both of which should be factors in Saturday’s game. Conversely, the Sooners have a talented signal caller in Baker Mayfield, and a supporting cast of offensive weapons that can give the Longhorns fits. Tom Herman got his guys up to play for the Southern Cal game, and I expect this game to be no different. Lincoln Riley won’t settle for back-to-back losses, so don’t expect the Sooners to be under-preparing for this game. We all know that in rivalry games, wins, losses and the like are thrown out the window. Texas kicker Josh Rowland could be an interesting component to this game, as his leg may be the difference between a win and a loss. Rowland has struggled mightily with field goals this season and must come through if called upon on Saturday. Sam Ehlinger has the fire in his belly and has shown he’s a competitor at the highest level – I look for him to have a big game and ultimately be the deciding factor in the win for the Longhorns. Score Prediction: Texas 31, Oklahoma 28 Harrison Wier You never know what will happen in the RRS (I refuse to call it a showdown, by the way). Often times underdogs prevail, and sometimes the favored team wins – by a hefty margin. This game is truly unpredictable, and this year might be even more so than others. Oklahoma is the No. 1 team in the country in total offense. The Texas secondary is facing a huge test tomorrow, and I don’t know if they are ready to take on that challenge. DeShon Elliot and Holton Hill have played lights out football this season, but the rest of the secondary has been mediocre at best. Kris Boyd is once again being exposed for a lack of mental discipline. PJ Locke is having the worst year of his career due to an advanced workload at nickel. Brandon Jones came into his own last week, but is still young and prone to mistakes. Baker Mayfield may carve this secondary up tomorrow. The good news? The Oklahoma defense is not good against the pass, either. Oklahoma allows 232 passing yards/game, good for 79th in the country. Texas seemed to establish on offensive identity last week with Sam Ehlinger under center. With a diminished OU secondary, I expect that to continue. I see this being an offensively dominated game. Texas has not shown an ability to stop a dual-threat QB, and Baker Mayfield is there toughest test yet. After a stellar year on defense, Oklahoma has come back down to Earth and shown a frequent inability to defend the pass. The ‘Shootout’ in the Red River Shootout may have some significance this year. Although Texas is a much improved team, I don’t think they are ready to stop a more developed Sooners squad. Score Prediction: Oklahoma 38 , Texas 31