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Harrison Wier

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Harrison Wier last won the day on September 19

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About Harrison Wier

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    Contributing Writer
  • Birthday 04/17/1995

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  1. Coaching a team as a 17-point underdog is never easy. You must have — and instill in your team — a healthy fear of your opponent. But you also have to convince your players that they belong on the same field, and that they can win. You do this by telling them no one’s giving them a chance, telling them they’re going to shock the world, telling them they’re going to punch the opponent in the face and keep punching until the referees stop the fight. That was the attitude Texas took into the game. The defense executed it, but not the offense (or special teams). It’s not enough to tell your players that this is your plan — you have to demonstrate it through your actions. This is why I understand and appreciate decisions like going for it on 4th & 2 on the first offensive series (even when you don’t convert), and throwing deep on 1st down from your own 1-yard line (even when it’s intercepted). It’s why I would have gone for two in overtime. Seventeen-point underdogs don’t secure upsets by playing for field goals and field position. Moving on… The Defense I haven’t had a chance to do a full rewatch yet, but it sure seems like this unit is figuring things out. I do think that schematically, Todd Orlando’s defense matches up well with what USC tries to do — maybe we’ll get into that during the bye week. There are also still problems in the back end: every offense so far has targeted Kris Boyd and Brandon Jones; two of them had success doing so, and one was a couple of misconnections away from it. But let’s start with positives. Just wow. On 4th & Goal, USC tries to punch it in with inside zone. They get two double teams on Chris Nelson and Poona Ford, which you’d expect to be enough for Roland Jones to gain a few inches and six points. Instead, Nelson goes nowhere, and Ford splits his double team. The real key, though, was Malcolm Roach. He’s lined up on the inside shoulder of the tight end, who’s drawn the near-impossible task of cutting him off. You can see how that goes. Note that Texas has two defenders on the far right in position to stop the zone read. I think this makes Charles Omenihu the team’s sack leader. It’s been cool to watch him grow into the player Charlie Strong thought he could be. This was USC’s second offensive series of the second half. They were up 14-10 and had just connected on a long pass to get out from their own 13-yard line. At this point in the game, the Texas defense’s performance felt unsustainable. Then Omenihu came through. He leaned into USC’s right tackle, apparently got his inside hand under the tackle’s pec and eased him right out of the play. Daniel could tell you more about what went wrong with the tackle’s technique. It’s scary how effortless Omenihu made this look. USC’s first two touchdowns were flukey. On the first score, they were trying to exploit Boyd’s tendency to jump underneath routes. The No. 1 receiver sets up for a flash screen, and the tight end fakes like he’s blocking then runs the fade. The Texas defense is doing something you’ll see a lot of in this post: playing Quarters coverage with a solo call on the single-receiver side. This allows them to bring the free safety over to cover the No. 3 receiver if he runs a deep route. But the weakside corner wasn’t completely on his own: the defense was also dropping the B-backer to take away the quick game to that side. Boyd blew me away with his discipline on this play (little victories). Sam Darnold has to improvise. No. 3 has run a deep route, so the free safety, DeShon Elliott, is on him. I can’t even get mad at this play — that’s an almost impossible throw and catch. I would have been far more upset if Darnold had run this in, which he might have been able to do since the pass rush had been washed out. The second touchdown, however, involved a lapse worth getting upset about. First, let’s admire Breckyn Hager. I don’t know that anyone on the team approaches every play with the unbridled rage and tenacity that he does. Now, to the ugly stuff. The pass rush and deep coverage forces Darnold to check it down, which is exactly what the defense wants. At this point in the play, USC has, hypothetically, four blockers (one is behind the defense and can’t help) to take on seven defenders. The only thing the defense has to do is funnel the ball into a smaller and smaller area until Roland can either be tackled or shoved out of bounds. Somehow, Holton Hill still doesn’t understand leverage (and he’s far from the only one guilty of this — just look at their kick coverage). This is JV stuff, and it’s infuriating. This was one of the turning points of the game. The potential game-saving sack was dangled in front of us, then The Darnold did his thing. I think it was around this point in the broadcast that Joel Klatt was saying Texas couldn’t sit back and had to keep attacking. On the previous play — the first of the series — they’d played zone and allowed an easy completion over the middle. This time, they went Cover 2 Man and tried to overwhelm the left side of USC’s offensive line. Darnold and USC offensive coordinator Tee Martin did a great job targeting the weakest link in the coverage: Anthony Wheeler on a running back up the seam. Wheeler seems to anticipate a route to the flat and overruns it, letting the back cut inside, but he did an impressive job of recovering for a big man. That doesn’t make it any less painful. Here’s the same coverage against trips that I said you’d see again. USC releases the back to the trips side, actually giving them a 4×1 look — and 4-on-4 matchup to that side, since the Rover is blitzing and the B-backer is dropping underneath the No. 1 weak. Roach is beating the right tackle up like Omenihu did on his sack, but the solo receiver is able to get separation (way too much) on Boyd on the slant route in time for Darnold to find him. The rest is just luck. Watching Elliott return this pick, though, makes me wonder why anyone ever thought this guy would be a linebacker. I’m not entirely sure what Texas was going for on this one; someone definitely screwed up, but I’m not sure whether it’s Hager or Jefferson. What likely confused them was the late motion by USC, which changes the look to the field side from deuces to trips. Neither Hager nor Jefferson seemed to notice. My guess would be that initially Hager was supposed to drop to account for the back while Jefferson would spy Darnold and rush if he saw a lane. I would then guess that their responsibilities should have flipped once the back flipped. Either way, someone needs to carry that tight end up the seam. Darnold handed Texas a gift with this play. This one gave me flashbacks to Notre Dame scoring on the first play of overtime last year. It’s trips again from USC, and the same coverage adjustment from Texas. Boyd’s receiver gives a jab step to the corner before cutting to the post, and that’s all it takes to get separation — but Boyd should have inside help from Jones. Instead, Jones is jumping the deep route by the No. 3 receiver, who is already covered low by Wheeler and high by Elliott. If you need something to cheer you up a little, watch Jefferson maul Roland. The Offense There’s something we’re not being told about the running backs. I’m sure of it. There is no way that these coaches made it this far into their careers if they were so bad at evaluating that they legitimately think there’s no difference in the abilities of Chris Warren and Kyle Porter to carry the football. Herman said in Monday’s press conference that Warren was averaging only 3.8 yards per carry. He got only four carries. This is what we call a small sample size. But if that’s the company line, let’s compare Warren’s 3.8 ypc to Porter’s 1.8. There’s a big difference between 2nd & 6 and 2nd & 8, and an even bigger difference between 3rd & 2 and 3rd & 6. This is always true, but especially when your offense is struggling. It doesn’t have to be about generating explosive plays. This is as simple as helping out your freshman quarterback. (By the way, it’s 10 yards for a first down. 3.8 x 3 = 11.4. 11.4 > 10.) Porter is a better blocker. I get it. That’s a good reason to use him as a blocker; it’s not a good reason to give him Warren’s carries. Use 20 personnel. Do something. Don’t make him the lead blocker for your quarterback when you’ve only got 1 ½ healthy quarterbacks and pretend that it was a good idea. This is up there with 2014, when Shawn Watson gave Johnathan Gray so many carries over D’Onta Foreman. Maybe Warren isn’t practicing as hard as the coaches would like; Herman noted, after all, that a lack of work ethic in practice had been costing Armanti Foreman snaps. That’s fine. (Well, it’s not, but you know. They’re trying to change the culture or whatever.) But don’t pretend that the two are equals. Warren or the freshmen need to get more touches. That’s step one to fixing the run game. I’m afraid that we’ll continue to see them rely on Sam Ehlinger until he’s knocked out of a game, at which point he’ll be replaced by the unimaginative package with Jerrod Heard back there. [/rant] I’m starting this one with the fun stuff only because Ehlinger had an opportunity to make a similar throw to the one Darnold made for the touchdown in OT. Before the snap, it looks like USC is going to bring the house, but they actually rush only four, drop two underneath defenders to spy Ehlinger and pick up any crossers, and play what looks to me like off man behind it. Ehlinger, of course, does a nice job extending the play and finding Foreman, but he missed the fact that Lorenzo Joe’s route was going to run off the safety, leaving Lil’Jordan Humphrey open on the exact same route that beat Boyd. It’s still a great play; I’m just illustrating that there’s plenty of room for growth. You have to like the way Foreman keeps working to find an opening and give Ehlinger somewhere to go with the ball. As I said above, I love this play-call because actions speak louder than words. If you want to communicate to your team that you’re coming for the Trojans’ throats, a QB sneak isn’t the way to do it, but max protect three verticals is. USC doubles Collin Johnson at the top, and they’ll get a de facto double team on Humphrey in the slot, but Devin Duvernay is matched up one-on-one. Tim Beck likes this more than he should — recall that Shane Buechele threw a pick to Duvernay on this same concept against Maryland. The throw is late, and I wonder if this is the max of Ehlinger’s range, but that’s not really the issue. With the off coverage, this should be converted to a deep comeback, in my opinion. Make that determination pre-snap based on the coverage if you have to, but take the 15-yard gain and first down. It doesn’t matter how much faster Duvernay is than the other guy if (1) the quarterback doesn’t get the ball out in time to lead him, or (2) the corner is so far off that Duvernay can’t overtake him. This should have been a flag. I know the hand was at Ehlinger’s neck, but something — maybe the defender’s hand, or maybe his glove — caught Ehlinger by something, probably the chin strap. By rule, grabbing and pulling the chin strap is the same as grabbing and pulling the facemask. Even worse, by rule, it’s a flag if there’s any doubt. You’re a blanking idiot if you don’t have doubts as to whether it was a facemask. But beyond that, this is the sort of play that was lacking in the first half. A good rule of thumb is that when you hear the announcers gushing about how fast a defense is, the offense should be serving up a healthy dose of misdirection, screens and draws. Texas doesn’t seem to have a slow screen in the whole damn playbook (and I’ve been lamenting this fact for years), but at least they made an effort to slow USC down later in the game with misdirection (reverses, throwback, etc.). Window dressing aside, this was a major play in Herman’s playbook — a concept I highlighted in my breakdown of his offense during the offseason. I wish we had the all-22, because I’d bet Johnson was open on the deep crossing route. The jet motion removed the curl/flat player to the playside, the corner doesn’t have leverage on the in-breaking route, and at less than five yards’ depth, none of the underneath defenders should be a threat. What keeps this from being a short gain, though, is that tight end Cade Brewer got hung up on the blitzing outside linebacker. That disrupts the timing, lets USC’s defense recover from the misdirection and gives that defender time to GRAB EHLINGER BY THE FACE WHAT THE HELL ARE THE REFS DOING? As annoyed as I was at the personnel decisions and absence of misdirection in the offense, this was a terrific play-call. Another play that Beck and Herman love is the snag or spot concept. It was all over the place in the Maryland game, for instance. (Apologies — I should have started that clip with a trigger warning.) If I know that, USC certainly does. The defense overreacts to the sprint action, and no one accounts for Brewer coming back across the formation. Let’s overreact. Hook ’em.
  2. Quarterback Texas walked into the Coliseum with a true freshman QB making his 2nd career start. I never thought the moment seemed too big for Sam Ehlinger. Ehlinger finished the night with 21 completions on 40 attempts for 298 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also tossed 2 interceptions, with one pick coming after a no-call facemask penalty that by the rulebook, should have been called. Despite the offensive struggles and playing behind a suspect offensive line, the freshman still led the Longhorns on a 91-yard drive late in the 4th quarter that gave Texas the lead. There is no doubt that Ehlinger brings intangibles to the quarterback position that many Longhorn fans have not seen in a long time. Unfortunately, Ehlinger also had the ball stripped inside the 5-yard line in double OT that ultimately led to USC kicking the game winning field goal. There were a couple deep balls that were overthrown, but overall Ehlinger gave Texas a chance to win the game, and that’s about all the fans and coaches could have asked for. Jerrod Heard saw some action out of the wildcat package, but it is just too predictable that it is going to be an off tackle run when he enters the game. Tim Beck needs to add a counter play or something that can keep the defense honest. Grade: B- Running Back The game plan seemed to play out similar to week 1 against Maryland. Tom Herman and Tim Beck chose to abandon the run game early. Chris Warren and Kyle Porter combined for 9 carries with 24 yards. It’s hard to blame the running backs for their performance with the offensive line play and play calling. After Connor Williams exited with a knee injury, Texas had zero success running the ball outside of reverses and jet sweeps. Kyle Porter continues to struggle to break tackles and get into the second level. A lot of fans voiced their displeasure for the lack of carries at RB, specifically for Warren, but Texas faced a lot of 7 and 8 man boxes. USC wanted to force Sam Ehlinger to beat them with his arm. Texas has to find a way to establish a running game between the tackles because outside of 60 minutes against San Jose State, the running game has been non-existent. Both running backs did a solid job in pass protection. Once Connor Williams exited the game, the running backs were forced to help block edge rushers. Kyle Porter is the superior blocker and is not afraid to take on a dude 75 pounds heavier than him. He threw a huge block on Sam Ehlinger’s 4th and 1 run late in the 4th quarter. Chris Warren also contributed a few good blocks and had a key 11-yard reception. One last note that I was thinking as I was reviewing the game. I would like to see Toneil Carter get meaningful snaps. I understand the reluctance from the coaching staff to throw him into the fire – especially in pass protection – but the running game needs to get going and I think Carter could provide a spark. Grade: C- Wide Receivers Texas fans better enjoy Collin Johnson for the next 2 years because the sophomore has played like an NFL receiver the first 3 games of the season, including last night. Johnson hauled in 7 passes for 191 yards and was a focal point for the Texas offense in the second half. On Texas’ final drive of the 4th quarter Ehlinger targeted Johnson several times, including a huge catch down the Texas sideline that set up a touchdown pass to Armanti Foreman. Foreman also had a huge game. The senior hauled in a key 4th down pass to go along with his touchdown catch, finishing the day with 5 catches for 38 yards. Out of the slot, Reggie Hemphill-Mapps had 2 catches for 13 yards, and also added 14 yards rushing. Lil’ Jordan Humphrey and Lorenzo Joe combined for 4 catches for 39 yards. The passing game was bogged down for most of the first half, but when Texas needed them the most the receiving group stepped up and delivered. Grade: B+ Tight End Texas played with a lot of 11 personnel packages again. Kendall Moore played the majority of the game and had an alright game blocking wise. When Texas brought in Cade Brewer, there was a noticeable drop off in blocking, but the freshman hauled in his first career touchdown in the first overtime on a beautifully designed play that Brewer sold perfectly. Tom Herman will continue to trot out a tight end regardless of the talent at the position, but they may be asked to block more than ever with how the offensive line is performing. Overall, the tight ends are what they are. There is nobody at the position opposing defenses will worry about, but Texas will continue to try to gain an advantage in the running game by using Kendall Moore and Cade Brewer as an extra blocker. Grade: C+ Offensive Line As soon as Connor Williams left the game, I knew the offense could be in big trouble. Tristan Nickelson was forced to slide over to left tackle and Denzel Okafor was inserted at right tackle. Tim Beck discovered quickly that running off tackle was not going to work. Running between the tackles was not much better. Jake McMillon and Patrick Vahe were slightly better than the tackles, but not by much. Zach Shackelford spent much of the first half trying to figure out how to hit the quarterback in the chest with the snap, and twice snapped the ball when Ehlinger was not ready. Offensive line coach Derek Warehime has to be frustrated about the number of penalties from an experienced and veteran unit. The entire offensive line as a whole struggled mightily in pass protection, including a sequence late in the first half where sacks took Texas out of field goal range. In the second half there was some improvement in pass protection, but it is obvious that Ehlinger is having to scramble around more than he would like. It is a very real possibility that Texas will be without Connor Williams for the remainder of the season, and depth is already razor thin on the offensive line. The offensive coaching staff will need to start finding ways to cover up what is becoming a glaring weakness. Run Blocking Grade: F Pass Blocking Grade: D+
  3. 5 Thoughts Following Texas/USC

    I'm not trying to be a downer lol. And I know Darnold is quite a capable QB. I'm simply stating that there is a reason Texas had trouble stopping Maryland. They need to plan for that. Regardless, Orlando did do a great job of game planning.
  4. 5 Thoughts Following Texas/USC

    Although the defense played well, keep it into perspective. They stopped the run because they didn't have to worry about the QB being able to run. I'm holding off on the defense is back train until I see them stop a two-dimensional offense.
  5. Texas-USC. The mere mention recalls arguably the greatest national championship ever. It makes us think of the magic that was Vince Young walking into the end zone, the electricity of Reggie Bush, and the build-up that lasted an entire year – that definitely lived up to the expectations. It was a game where both teams laid it all out on the line, and the 6th iteration of this rivalry was no different. The rematch didn’t start with the fireworks we expected, but rather a defensive battle. The Texas defense started the night by stopping the potent USC offense led by sophomore quarterback Sam Darnold on 2 fourth downs, one of which was a goal line stand. Tom Herman and Defensive Coordinator Todd Orlando brought the pressure the entire game, but the USC offense didn’t help themselves by dropping passes, and combined with plenty of negative plays and penalties made the Trojans offense resort to attempting multiple fourth down conversions to start out the game. Freshman QB Sam Ehlinger, in his second career start, didn’t get off to a hot start, as he followed up the Longhorns’ goal line stand with an interception and later a fumble, having 2 turnovers going into halftime. But the Texas offensive line didn’t do Ehlinger any favors. He was sacked 4 times going into the locker room and the Longhorns had 68 rushing yards on the day. The worst take away from the game for Texas was the loss of team captain and junior LT Connor Williams. He was helped to the locker room shortly after the second quarter began and did not return to the game. But rushing 35 times for 68 yard and a 1.9 rush average is unacceptable by every account. That and the insistence to run in between the tackles became increasingly puzzling. USC’s offense finally came alive when they scored a touchdown with 2:40 left in the first half. Texas followed up the Trojans scoring drive with a punt, giving USC plenty of time to get one more score before going into the locker room. But Sam Darnold’s pass was intercepted by DeShon Elliot and retuned 38 yards to the house to tie the game 7-7 with 19 seconds remaining before the half. The Longhorns defense came out swinging, as the Longhorns front 7 brought a lot of pressure to the Trojans offensive line, causing USC QB noticeable stress and forcing the sophomore to make some dangerous and at times costly throws. Sam Darnold would get the next laugh though, as a miraculous play by Ronald Jones II was taken 56 yards to the house with no time on the clock. But this play was more of an indictment on the Longhorns defense than anything. Surprisingly enough, the Texas defense, which surrendered 51 points to the Maryland Terrapins 2 weeks ago, was playing far better than anyone could have expected. It wasn’t until this wonky coverage that USC got the upper hand at 14-7 going into the locker room. Texas started out the half on the right foot. The Longhorns went on a 12-play, 10-minute drive, but were forced to kick a 39-yard field goal by Joshua Rowland, his first successful field goal of the season. This reduced the Trojans’ lead to 3 at 14-10 USC. Texas and USC would trade punts the rest of the third quarter, but the momentum appeared to swing in the Longhorns favor when Michael Dickson faked a punt and converted the first down. But it was all negated when Team Captain P.J. Locke III was called for a holding penalty, causing the Longhorns to punt. A pass by Sam Darnold on 3rd and 10 on USC’s 30 was overthrown, and DeShon Elliot got his second interception of the night and returned it 24 yards to the USC 25. On the ensuing Texas possession, Sam Ehlinger escaped pressure in the pocket and believed he was face-masked, but threw the ball to a contested receiver and was intercepted. Fortunately for the Longhorns, Southern California would punt the ball after the 3rdturnover for the Texas freshman QB. The Longhorns could not afford to punt the ball again, and the Texas offense felt that urgency. Sam Ehlinger and the Longhorns went on a 14-play, 4-and-a-half-minute drive that ended with a beautiful corner of the end zone, 17-yard touchdown catch for Armanti Foreman, the first touchdown for Sam Ehlinger on the night, which gave the Longhorns a 17-14 lead. With 45 seconds left, and starting at their own 35, Sam Darnold and the Trojans marched down the field and tied the game as regulation expired at 17 all. Texas won the coin toss and elected to start on defense. It didn’t go too well for the Longhorns, as the Trojans scored on the first play of overtime. USC leads, 24-17. Sam Ehlinger responded swiftly, thanks to Collin Johnson having a monster game. The freshman QB tricked everyone, by taking the defense one direction then turning the other way to a wide-open freshman Cade Brewer. Texas hit the extra point and tied the game at 24, leading the way for a second overtime. Texas started out the second overtime with the football, and was on the verge of getting a first down and even potentially scoring, but the ball was ripped out of Sam Ehlinger’s hands and was recovered by the Trojans. Sam Ehlinger had 4 turnovers on the night; a pair of interceptions and fumbles each. All USC had to do now was score and they would win the football game. The Texas Defense, which laid an egg opening weekend, played valiantly, causing the Trojans to face a three-and-out, but since the Trojans just needed to score, USC freshman walk-on Chase McGrath had to make the biggest kick of his young collegiate career from 43 yards. He nailed it through the middle of the uprights, winning the game for Southern California in double overtime, 27-24. The game proved to be the classic no one expected, and the Longhorns shouldn’t hang their head in disappointment. Yes, they may have lost, but it was also to the #4 team in the country, riding an 11-game winning streak. The Texas defense played gallantly, arguably on par with Sam Darnold and his squad if not the best unit of the night. The Trojans won their revenge match 27-24 against the Longhorns, and added to the sensation that is the USC-Texas rivalry. This journalist personally cannot wait for the next game, but it’s a damn shame that game had to end.
  6. *****Texas vs. USC Game Thread*****

    Give Chris Warren the football. Mind blowing.
  7. Sean Adams

    I am devastated. I listened to Sean all the time and met him at Big 12 Media Days. Such a caring individual with a passionate voice for everything, not just sports. He will be dearly missed.
  8. Texas-USC. Two storied football powerhouses. Both schools are in the top-10 of all NCAA football programs in win percentage, with UT (.706) and USC (.702). Both have a top-10 all-time record, 30+ conference championships, and 53 bowl game appearances. Texas has 58 consensus All-Americans while the Trojans have 81, both in the top-10. Texas has had 45 first-round draft picks, while USC has almost double that at 80, which is 8th and 1st all-time, respectively. Both have spent 700+ weeks in the Associated Press Poll, and UT has spent 45 weeks atop the AP Poll while USC has more than doubled that with 91 weeks spent on top of AP ranking world, ranking 1st all-time. Lastly the Longhorns are 2nd all-time in wins, at 891, while the USC Trojans aren’t too far behind with 825 wins (10th all-time). But you get the point. The USC Trojans and Texas Longhorns are 2 storied football blue-bloods, and football is a religion to these schools. These two teams have only met 5 times before, with only one match-up in the current millennia, and before that it was 1955, 1956, 1966, and 1967. For the 6th time ever, the USC Trojans are playing the Texas Longhorns. And the only thing that comes to mind is the penultimate 2006 national championship, when the 2 teams were ranked 1st and 2nd all season heading into the game, and the anticipation became reality. The two teams played in what was arguably the greatest national championship ever, with Texas winning 41-38 thanks to the magic of quarterback Vince Young, claiming the last championship between these 2 teams. USC hasn’t played for another title since, but Texas would return to the Rose Bowl in 2009 only to fall short to Alabama. But a lot has changed since these 2 teams last met, with former Trojans head coach Pete Carroll leaving before severe NCAA sanctions hit and Texas falling off the map once Colt McCoy got injured. To capture this best – Texas has a record of 47-45 in the 92 games since Colt went down in the national championship, while before that, during one of UT’s highest eras of success – they went 79-11 in the 90 games before he got injured. USC also went through some tough years, including ugly breakups with Lane Kiffin, Ed Orgeron and Steve Sarkisisian, and now settling on current head coach Clay Helton. Coach Helton took last year’s Trojan squad to the Rose Bowl with up-and-coming quarterback Sam Darnold in what was a one for the ages, as the Trojans beat the Penn State Nittany Lions. But enough about the past, let’s look forward to the game on Saturday! While there isn’t even close to the same amount of anticipation that went into the last matchup between the 2 squads, the game between the Trojans and Longhorns will be aired on FOX at 7:30 P.M. The Trojans come into the matchup with all the momentum (2-0) after defeating Western Michigan in the opener 49-31, and then crushing their bay-area rival Stanford in the L.A. Coliseum 42-24. That and the fact that the 6th meeting between these 2 teams will be at home for the Trojans, gives USC a leg up on Texas already. The Longhorns did not start as hot, losing the season opener to the visiting Maryland Terrapins 51-41 in a game the Longhorns were favored by as much as 18 points. The loss spoiled new head coach Tom Herman’s debut in Austin, but he would get his first win as Longhorns coach last weekend, as Texas roughed around and shutout the visiting San Jose State Spartans, 56-0. So what does this mean for the matchup this weekend? The Trojans are the #4 team in the nation, and they have not lost a football game in almost a year, when they lost to the Utah Utes on September 23, 2016. The Trojans will be riding their 11-game win streak and the fact that they will have played 2 home games in the last 2 weeks compared to Texas – who must travel to the west coast – is a big boost in the rest department. The Longhorns are not favored well in this game, with the Trojans are favored by more than 2 touchdowns at this time. Can the Longhorns pull off another upset of USC? Only time will tell, but if Texas freshman QB Sam Ehlinger gets the start, it might be a tough go for the Longhorns. The Trojans looked dominant last week and will be riding serious momentum heading into this matchup. And while the hype may not be nearly as close to what it was over 10 years ago, it may be foolish to count the Longhorns out. If the defense can stop Sam Darnold and keep him off the field, Texas might keep it close. Unfortunately I wouldn’t hold your breath, for I predict the Longhorns will fall short by at least 1 TD. The 6th matchup between these 2 storied programs should be fun since we can always count on these two teams giving it their all when playing each other. The anticipated bout, in what could be a revenge match for the Trojans, is on Saturday on FOX at 7:30 P.M.
  9. Texas (1-1, 0-0) will travel to Los Angeles on Saturday to take on USC (2-0, 1-0). The Trojans enter the game coming off an impressive win against Stanford, 42-24. Let’s take a look at what USC has on offense: Quarterback The first player mentioned when talking about USC is quarterback Sam Darnold. The redshirt sophomore took over at quarterback 4 games into the season in 2016, and led the Trojans to 8 straight victories. Darnold entered 2017 as one of the Heisman frontrunners and a possible #1 overall pick in the 2018 draft. Darnold possesses an outstanding arm and can drop balls into tight spots pretty much anywhere on the field. His pocket presence is excellent and he can extend plays with his legs. So far in 2017, Darnold has completed 74% of his passes for 605 yards and 4 touchdowns. While he has also tossed 4 interceptions, he was at his best last week against Stanford when he threw for 4 touchdowns and 316 yards. It’s hard to envision Darnold struggling against a Texas defense that has been vulnerable against the pass. Texas needs to hope that they are able to get the Trojans into 3rd and long situations, where the Longhorns can drop 7 men into coverage. Texas must do a better much communicating in the secondary if they want any shot at slowing down a potential Heisman finalist. Running Back Against a Stanford defense that prides itself in stopping the run, the Trojans ran for 307 yards. The backfield is led by Texas native Ronald Jones II. The junior has racked up 275 yards and 5 touchdowns in 2017, averaging 6.7 yards per carry. Jones possesses track speed and is widely considered as one of the top running backs in the country. Freshman Stephen Carr is even more explosive than Jones. The former 5-star recruit has averaged over 10 yards per carry in 2017 and has found the endzone twice. Redshirt freshman Vavae Malepeai has also performed well in limited action, turning 8 carries into 63 yards. On top of trying to stop Darnold, Texas will also need to find a way to slow down Jones and Carr. The linebackers and safeties have to take proper angles to the ball and try to diagnose plays early. The key for Texas will be linebacker Anthony Wheeler, who played well against San Jose State and needs to be solid in run support at the middle linebacker spot. Gary Johnson should also see an increase in playing time. Johnson is one of the few linebackers in the entire country who can run step for step with running backs like Jones and Carr. Wide Receivers/ Tight End The USC receivers unit is led by two veterans, Deontay Burnett and Steven Mitchell Jr. Both receivers are averaging over 16 yards a catch and have 2 touchdowns each. Outside of Burnett and Mitchell, the Trojans have not had many other contributions from the receiver position, but that could change soon. Sophomore Michael Pittman has missed the first two games due to an ankle injury, but head coach Clay Helton has stated that Pittman is close to returning. Junior Jalen Green is the only other receiver to have more than 1 reception on the season, hauling in 3 passes for 33 yards. Darnold will rely heavily on Burnett and Mitchell, especially with the big play ability that both posses. Kris Boyd and Holton Hill will have to a good job of staying on the two wideouts and not peeking in the backfield, or else Darnold may make them pay. For the second week in a row, Texas will have to deal with a quality tight end. Junior Tyler Pitete has 59 receiving yards on 6 catches, but has also made a huge impact in the run game. Piete will be relied on heavily after fellow tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe was recently sidelined with a leg injury. Offensive Line The Trojans had to replace 3 starters along the offensive line for the 2017 season, but the group has responded nicely. While they may not boast the All-Conference and All-American talent that many would expect, they have only allowed 3 sacks in 2 games and have paved big holes for the running backs. Juniors Chuma Edoga and Toa Lobendahn man the two tackle positions and have a combined 29 starts of experience between them. RG Viane Talamaivao has the most experience out of any lineman, having 34 career starts under his belt. Center Nico Falah started 12 games a season ago and LG Chris Brown is the least experienced of the group with 4 career starts. The defensive line for Texas has actually performed quite nicely through the two games. The offensive line the Trojans have and the ability for Sam Darnold to move around in the pocket may make it difficult for Texas to get to the quarterback. Malcolm Roach has been quiet through 2 games, and this would be good game will for him to cause havoc on the right side of the line and not allow Darnold to get in a rhythm.
  10. Winning is fun. Yay! But that was a really bad football team. Eight losses last season, including a 34-pointer to Iowa State – a team that even Texas beat by three scores. Their offense had several chances to put up points through the air, as you’ll see, but their defense was just trash. Let’s do this quickly and then turn our focus to USC. Technically a Shutout, but… San Jose State’s first near-scoring opportunity came on the first play of their second possession. (click to play) Kris Boyd is a great athlete but still not a great football player. This is the second week he’s been picked on. On this play, Texas was in Cover 3, with Boyd responsible for a deep third of the field. Alternatively, he could bite on a pump fake and get smoked by a former low 3-star wide receiver (who, to be fair, was clocked at 4.49 in high school). Watch the quarterback’s non-throwing hand – it doesn’t come off the ball. That’s typically what defensive backs are taught to look for before they break on a throw. Boyd is a boom-or-bust player. He hasn’t had many booms yet this season, but he will. (click to play) Brandon Jones is another guy who has been and will continue to be targeted by opposing offenses. Texas is in its “2-4-5” even front that we saw in the spring game, and is running a fire zone blitz. In simple terms, Jones is responsible for the second receiver from the sideline after the receivers have completed their release. That last part matters. At the snap, the second receiver from the sideline (or No. 2) is the slot receiver, but then he and the tight end (No. 3) cross each other. The tight end becomes the No. 2, and the slot the No. 3. The No. 3 receiver is the responsibility of the hook defender, in this case Gary Johnson. But Jones chases the slot inside, which – if the tight end had caught the ball – would have forced Boyd to attempt an open-field tackle on a player who is four inches taller and 53 pounds heavier than him. Five will get you 10 that he misses that tackle. (click to play) This is the very next play. Texas again brings pressure from the field but this time with man coverage behind it. When the running back releases on a route, Anthony Wheeler has to peel off his blitz and run with him. That is his job. It is NOT Malik Jefferson’s job. Malik should be bouncing in the middle, watching the quarterback and in prime position to recognize the wave of offensive linemen setting up a screen in front of him. An engagement there likely forces the receiver to bend his path back toward Naashon Hughes, but instead he has space to split the difference between Hughes and Malcolm Roach. Had the runner not slipped, I have confidence in DeShon Elliott to make this tackle and prevent the score, but it should still have been 1st & Goal. (click to play) The whatever-San-Jose-State’s-mascot-ises split two receivers to the left and put a tight end and wing on the right. The Longhorns bring Holton Hill from the boundary and run Cover 2 behind it, with Elliott assuming Hill’s flat responsibilities (which, schematically, is pretty cool). The tight end runs a curl route and the wing runs a fade. Elliott will trail the fade with the expectation that the deep safety, Jones, is patrolling the half of the field behind him. Jones, however, was jumping the curl route from literally 12 yards away. That route isn’t Jones’ problem until the ball’s thrown. He left Elliott hanging, and they’re fortunate that Mr. 4.49 didn’t bring his hands to Austin. Otherwise, it very well could have been tied at 21 at the half. Your Leading Scorer Who had Hill as the team’s leader scorer after week two? (click to play) Texas rushes three, has Johnson spy the quarterback and runs Quarter-Quarter-Half on the back end. Hill, on the “Half” (Cover 2) side of the coverage, trails the No. 1 receiver, with Jones over the top. The quarterback tries to fit the ball into what I hope was a tight window (I can’t see Jones) but the ball flutters and dies. Hill and his blockers do the rest. Power-O The scoring plays were efficient and pretty boring, but I at least got some pleasure out of seeing power and other gap-scheme runs. They were sorely missed against Maryland. (click to play) There’s so much going on in this play that I couldn’t diagram everything. The playside of the offensive line blocks down and washes the defense inside, leaving just a few stragglers for the H-back, running back and backside guard to clean up. There’s some confusion in the defense about who should fit where – or San Jose State’s 193-pound safety wanted no part of 305-pound Jake McMillon. A couple of things that wouldn’t fit in the diagram: right tackle Denzel Okafor needs to chip the edge rusher who nearly makes the stop in the backfield. Watch Connor Williams on the next play to see what it should look like. And I like what Corby Meekins has tight end Kendall Moore doing – he locks up one linebacker for a one-count before releasing and engaging the next defender – but he should probably focus on sticking with one guy per play, or at least hold the block for a two-count. Moore impressed me when I noticed him. Don’t get used to this, though; the line won’t dominate many other teams this easily. Even…even Garrett Gray stuffed his defender. (click to play) And even Kyle Porter found the end zone! (It’s time for Daniel Young and Toneil Carter to get more reps.) He ran better later in the game, but this was a weak opponent and Texas needs production in all four quarters. He’s running like he’s waiting to go down. But back to the play – SJSU overplays the jet sweep action and leaves a poor linebacker and the backside cornerback alone against Patrick Vahe and Porter. The linebacker just stands there, becoming an organic blocking sled for Vahe to slam into. Really bad defense. (click to play) Jerrod Heard scored on power too. It doesn’t get much easier. I’m not sure which play SJSU was worried about but it wasn’t the right one. The defenders are slow to react and overpursue when they do. I’d like to see Heard NOT run into the back of his damn blocker; it’s not like he didn’t have time to see how the block was unfolding and adjust. Notice Moore helping to wall off the defense again (it didn’t look hard). In the Zone The zone run plays that were ineffective last week were productive this week, especially later in the game when SJSU was worn out. (click to play) Texas’ first score came on Q outside zone. This is another clip that illustrates how bad SJSU was. The backside of the play gets cut off, including a nose tackle who was reached by the backside guard. SJSU caps it off with a pitiful effort from the backside defensive end. There’s not much else to say or learn about this one. (click to play) SJSU has loaded the box, and the safety isn’t falling for that jet sweep crap again. They were going to have two guys (a linebacker and the safety) unblocked anyway because of numbers and the front, but Patrick Hudson loses his footing and leaves a second linebacker unblocked. This play should have gone nowhere, but they lost track of Warren. I like the linebacker who gives up and just starts spanking Moore the best. Spartans to Trojans That’s enough of that. I’ve read exactly nothing about USC and watched only their opener against Western Michigan, so all I can tell you is what the video said. Their defense should be familiar to the offense, since they’ve practiced against the 2-4-5 look. Outside linebacker #45* was the first guy who jumped out. He’s like a bigger Breckyn Hager with better football instincts. Their insider linebacker play got way better in the second half, which I soon figured out was because #35 returned from suspension. The only defensive lineman who consistently caught my eye was #94, so that makes me feel a little bit better about Texas’ chances of at least sustaining plays for more than three seconds. Their secondary looks like it’s in fast-forward; everyone looked good, but they weren’t challenged very often (only 23 total pass attempts). I didn’t have time to watch the whole game on offense, but you all know Roland Jones. He’s terrifying and angry, so that should be fun. Repeat for Sam Darnold. I’m hoping to find a weak spot in their offensive line when I watch the Stanford game. The only positives I’ve got are that this Texas squad has had a habit the past two years of hanging with highly ranked teams (2-2 straight up, 3-1 against the spread as double-digit underdogs), and Tom Herman has the same reputation, but better. Now, how many comments can we go before we start talking about the quarterbacks? * @ShotgunSpr tweeted that #45 (Porter Gustin) will have an MRI on his shoulder Sunday night.
  11. After a disappointing upset loss in the season opener against Maryland last week, the Texas Longhorns had everything to prove this week when they took the field against San Jose State on Saturday. The Longhorns bounced back by relying on a solid rushing attack that used an array of players to deliver a 56-0 shutout loss to the Spartans. Junior running back Chris Warren led the effort with 166 yards on 16 carries and two touchdowns. Kyle Porter added 72 yards on 16 carries, including one touchdown. When the day was done the Longhorns amassed a total of 406 yards rushing. Compare that against the 98 total rushing yards last week against the Terrapins and it is easy to see why Tom Herman, who won his first game as head coach at Texas, was pleased with team’s ability to produce results on the ground. Texas (1-1, 0-0) started true freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger in place of Shane Buechele, who is nursing a shoulder injury sustained in the loss to Maryland. Ehlinger took command of the offense and operated efficiently, finishing with 222 yards passing and one touchdown. Ehlinger also contributed 48 yards to the rushing effort, showing his ability to move in and out of the pocket when necessary. The Texas offensive line did not allow a sack in the game, highlighting the progress made from last week’s subpar performance in which Buechele was pressured incessantly and forced to scramble more times than not. The Longhorns struck first on backup quarterback Jerrod Heard’s 9 yard run out of the Wildcat formation, giving Texas a 7-0 lead at the 4:12 mark in the first quarter. Chris Warren added to the score in the second quarter, rumbling 41 yards for a touchdown and delivering punishing blows to San Jose State defenders in the process. Jerrod Heard rushed for his second touchdown on the day at the 2:17 mark, scampering into the left side of the end zone once again out of the Wildcat. The Longhorns led 21-0 at the half. San Jose began the second half on offense and was forced to punt after the Longhorns held the Spartans to 3 and out. The Longhorns would begin a scoring drive at the 13:23 mark, which included a heavy dose of Chris Warren and Kyle Porter. The drive ended with Porter finding the end zone from 3 yards out to give Texas a 28-0 lead and Porter’s first touchdown as a Longhorn. Texas added to its lead in the 3rd quarter with Holton Hill intercepting San Jose State’s Aaron Montel and returning it 45 yards for a touchdown. In the opening 4th quarter drive for the Longhorns, Sam Ehlinger found Collin Johnson for 27 yards and Reggie Hemphill-Mapps for 23 yards, setting Chris Warren up for a 9 yard touchdown run, his second of the game. On the Longhorns’ following drive, Ehlinger would notch his first career collegiate touchdown on a one yard shovel pass to Armanti Foreman. Texas pulled Ehlinger halfway through the 4th quarter, letting Heard handle the offense for the remainder of the game. The Longhorns added one more touchdown from tailback Toneil Carter, with 2:46 left to play. While the praise for the offense is warranted, the performance by the defense against San Jose State was equally impressive. The Longhorns held Aaron Montel and the Spartan defense to just 42 yards rushing and 171 total yards of offense. The linebackers played better, the defensive line won the battles they needed to, and the defensive backs closed faster. San Jose State isn’t a Top-10 team, but Todd Orlando has a lot of positives to glean from his unit’s play today. The uncertainty surrounding Shane Buechele’s timetable for return means Sam Ehlinger could get the starting nod again when the Longhorns travel to Los Angeles to play Top-10 USC next week at the Coliseum. Tom Herman will begin preparing his game plan for USC tomorrow morning at 10:00 am. Game Notes Texas freshman Reggie Hemphill-Mapps did not play in first half for reportedly violating team rules. The Texas kicking game struggled again today with Josh Rowland missing a 43 yard FG attempt. Rowland is 0-3 on the season in FG’s. Holton Hill’s interception for a touchdown return gives him 3 touchdowns on the season. The Longhorns are now 13-5-1 all time in games following a season opening loss. Chris Warren surpassed the 1,000 yard mark with his 166 yard performance against the Spartans. Patrick Hudson left the field with what appeared to be an injury to his knee. Head coach Tom Herman won his first game at Texas and is now 23-5 in his career as a head coach.
  12. *****Game Thread - Texas vs. San Jose State

    Also just putting in my unpopular opinion. That was not a good first half. Texas shouldn't be up by 21 and is getting bailed out tons by an inferior team. This secondary is really, really bad. I don't know what is going on there. Kyle Porter needs to stop getting snaps. He is horrible in space and cannot break a tackle to save his life. As Ryan recently mentioned, this game could be tied or fairly close.
  13. *****Game Thread - Texas vs. San Jose State

    It really depends. If USC loses today, they could be sleeping. If Sam has to start, could be ugly. He's still young and not used to it. I'm not sure. Texas secondary is also not looking good and can get torched by Darnold. Let's get through this one first lol. Sam has looked good but also made some freshman like throws. SJSU should have 2 picks.
  14. Staff Predictions for Texas vs. SJSU

    Maybe slightly. But not by much.
  15. Staff Predictions for Texas vs. SJSU

    Football is funny that way. At this point, a win for Texas is a move towards the right direction.