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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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  1. Thanks for pointing that out. Fixed.
  2. Yes. But at some points you should not go for it. Sometimes common sense outweighs the analytics of a binder.
  3. Sure, it wasn’t a given. But Texas needed points and I think sooner or later Herman has to stop going for it all the time. If he elects a field goal both times they went for it and the attempts are good, Texas wins.
  4. Close, but no cigar – the motto of the Texas football team this year. After falling behind 17-0 early on in the Cotton Bowl, Texas fans seemed to think this one was over. Sam Ehlinger had other ideas. After a long kickoff return by Kyle Porter, the Longhorns were in business. To finish off the drive, Ehlinger hit Porter on a beautifully designed screen pass for the 16-yard touchdown. Texas cut the Sooners’ lead to 13 points. This occurred with 3:14 left in the first half. On the ensuing Sooners drive, the Texas defense made a big stop when John Bonney intercepted a screen pass by Baker Mayfield and allowed the Texas offense a chance to score before the half. Freshman QB Sam Ehlinger did his thing and led the Longhorns to a 34-yard field goal by Joshua Rowland. At the half, the score was 20-10 Oklahoma. A big part of this half has not yet been mentioned. Early on in the game when the Texas offense finally gained some momentum, they were deep inside Oklahoma territory when Tom Herman elected to go for it on 4th down. It is important to note that Texas K Joshua Rowland was kicking 44% on the year at the time. The play was unsuccessful, and Texas left points on the board. Tom Herman has reiterated time and time again that he hates attempting short yardage field goals. But sometimes, stubbornness can lose you football games. That wasn’t the case here, since the field goal attempt for Joshua Rowland on 4th down would have been for 45+ yards. However, if Rowland makes that kick, we might be talking about a new ball game. Instead, Texas went for it and failed to convert. Instead of a 7 point game, Texas trailed by 10 heading into halftime with the Sooners set to receive the ball to start the 3rd quarter. On Oklahoma’s first possession of the second half, they drove down the field and kicked a 36-yard field goal. Oklahoma then led 23-10. However, Texas responded on its ensuing drive when Ehlinger led a 13 play, 75-yard drive that was capped off by Ehlinger pushing running back Chris Warren into the end zone for a touchdown. Texas cut the lead to 23-17, and was within 6 points. After several back and forth drives, the Texas offense began to drive once again. With a 4th down on the Oklahoma 27-yard-line, Tom Herman again elected to go for it on 4th down instead of kicking a 44-yard field goal. The conversion failed, and Texas again gave up an opportunity to put points on the board. Fortunately, Oklahoma did not take advantage of the missed opportunity and punted away to Texas. On the next drive by the offense, Ehlinger made sure the offense would get into the end zone. The drive was capped off but a gutsy 8-yard run by Ehlinger, who lowered his shoulder to get into the end zone. Texas took its first lead of the game, 24-23 with 8:01 left in the game. The biggest issue with this team? They still don’t know how to finish and win games. That was evident on Oklahoma’s ensuing drive, when Baker Mayfield hit Mark Andrews on the third play for a 59-yard touchdown. And just like that, Oklahoma retook the lead and never looked back. On the play, Texas safety Brandon Jones bit on a post route and left Andrews wide open along the sidelines. The touchdown was as easy as pitch and catch. During the next drive for the Texas offense, Sam Ehinger was again moving the chains when he was hit hard out of bounds and landed on his head. He did not move for several minutes, but was able to get up and went to be evaluated by the medical staff. That brought in Shane Buechele, who has not seen a snap since the teams win over Iowa State in Ames. Buehcele was only in for one series, but converted a key 3rd & 6 to Chris Warren. After that, Ehlinger returned to the game. During this drive the Texas offense, who had one penalty the entire game, began to lose discipline. A couple of holding calls and false starts later led to the Longhorns staring at a 4th & 13, which resulted in the ball being thrown away by Ehlinger. The result wouldn’t have mattered, because RT Derek Kerstetter was flagged for holding. Many would perceive the game as being over then and there, but with two timeouts Todd Orlando’s defense had a chance to get a stop and give Texas a chance. They did just that, but on the punt was fair caught by Reggie Hemphill-Mapps inside the Texas 10-yard-line and a holding penalty pushed the offense back to Texas’ own 4 with :49 left. After leading the Longhorns to the 42-yard-line. After an acrobatic one-handed grab by Lil’Jordan Humphrey was ruled incomplete, the Longhorns had one chance left and could not heave a hail mary to the end zone. After a screen pass and a couple of laterals, the Sooners defense held on and Oklahoma won the game 29-24. Texas did not want win the game, but held their own against a great Oklahoma squad. The biggest issue for Texas is the lack of an efficient running back. Chris Warren is a good pass catcher out of the backfield, but not good enough when given the rock. Because of this, Sam Ehlinger essentially acts as the offense’s QB and RB. Ehlinger had 22 carries for over 100 yards in today’s loss. Ehlinger is a tough kid, but his body cannot take that type of workload week in and out. Secondly, the Texas defense does not yet know how to finish. Time after time this year, Sam Ehlinger has given Texas the lead late in games only for the defense to fail to hold. It happened against USC, Kansas State, and now Oklahoma. Two of those games resulted in losses. On the bright side, this team is light years different under Tom Herman than Charlie Strong. No offense to Coach Strong, but 2 years ago this team would have never come back from a 17 point deficit. Strong never won a game when he did not score first. The future is bright and Texas is showing improvement. There are still some holes to fill, but each game gets better and better. Tom Herman is certainly not pleased that his team lost, but he must be pleased with their resilience and refusal to back down from a fight. At some point this year, that attitude and fight will result in an unexpected victory. Today is just not that day. With each game I further believe Texas is closer to be back. Tom Herman is the right coach, and Texas is the right program for him. One day soon, Texas will take the college football world by storm. It’s 7:10, and OU still sucks. Hook ‘Em.
  5. 5 Thoughts Following The Win Over KSU

    I’m not Daniel, and maybe he has a better perspective, but I think Cuney could be serviceable. K State has a quick DL and Cuney held his own. He got beat several times, but that happens. All his snaps were clean. If he can continue, the staff might consider moving Shack over to G/T to help with depth. Maybe gets a look at LT.
  6. As always, the Texas-Kansas State matchup proved to be a good one. Bill Snyder, otherwise known as “The Purple Wizard” has beaten Texas 7 times as coach of the Wildcats, and was looking to make that 8 against the Longhorns as K-State The game didn’t start out too well for freshman QB Sam Ehlinger, as the first pass he threw was intercepted. Thankfully enough the Wildcats didn’t capitalize, failing to score any points off the turnover. The Wildcats struck first, scoring a field goal to make it 3-0 with 7:19 left in the first quarter. Texas followed by turning the ball over on downs whilst in the redzone. Bill Snyder and Co. did not do the same, instead scoring a touchdown after a quick slant was hauled in by Dalton Schoen and taken 82 yards to the house, making it 10-0 in favor of the Wildcats. After being in the second quarter for only a minute, the mood in DKR became anxious and quiet – almost like Texas fans have seen this before. Texas could not afford another scoreless drive. Sure enough the offense efficiently marched down the field, taking 4 minutes and 21 seconds to go on a 12-play, 71-yard dive that was eventually finished by Kyle Porter for a 1-yard touchdown, putting the Longhorns on the board. The lead was reduced to 3 as K-State now led 10-7. Kansas State saw their momentum vanish so they stepped up and went on a 7-play, 75-yard drive that ended with Ertz’s second touchdown pass, again going to Dalton Schoen for 12 yards. Kansas State’s lead over Texas returned to 10 as the Wildcats led 17-7. Ehlinger and the Longhorns didn’t back down, with the freshman QB hitting Chris Warren III wide open for a 33-yard touchdown to again shorten the Wildcats’ lead to 3, making the score 17-14 with 3 minutes and 25 seconds remaining until halftime. Kansas State punted and gave Texas time to score, and that they did as the Longhorns went on a 7-play, 50-yard drive that gave Texas their first lead of the game. The score was 21-17 with only 16 seconds before the half. Kansas State took a knee, and the Longhorns maintained their 4-point lead as Texas led 21-17 going into the locker room for halftime. And their momentum continued when the third quarter started, as the Longhorns forced a 3-and-out and scored a field goal on the ensuing possession, increasing Texas’s lead to 7, making it 24-17. Kansas State and Texas traded punts following that. Kansas State would then score for the first time in almost an entire quarter, as Jesse Ertz would run it in from 4 yards out, tying the Longhorns at 24 with 6:44 left in the third quarter. But the Texas offense began to struggle, forced to punt after a 3-and-out, and Kansas State would retake the lead, thanks to a 33-yard field goal made by Wildcat kicker Matthew McCrane with 12:19 left in the game. Sam Ehlinger and the Texas offense tried to answer, going on a 13-play, 73-yard drive that ended with Longhorn kicker Joshua Rowland’s 27-yard field goal ending up wide-left. Kansas State still led 27-24. Kansas State would punt, thanks to a three and out forced by the Longhorns defense, and the Texas offense tried to play for keeps, but ended up tying the game at 27 thanks to a 34-yard redemption kick by Joshua Rowland with 1:37 left in the game. Jesse Ertz and the Wildcats would have a chance to kick a field goal and win the game for Kansas State, but the drive ended up with an Ertz pass being intercepted by DeShon Elliott, his fifth of the season. All Texas had to do was go for a slight drive and kick a field goal to win the game. But the drive did not end too well for the Longhorns, as Joshua Rowland’s potential game-winning 45-yard field goal did not go through, so this game would be decided in overtime. Texas received the ball to start out the extra period, and they scored on the second play, on a 25-yard pass from Sam Ehlinger to Jerrod Heard, making the lead 34 to 27 in favor of the Longhorns. But Kansas State would answer to tie the game at 34 all. Double-overtime would decide the fate of this tense Big XII matchup under the lights. Kansas State started with the ball, but costly penalties pushed the Wildcats further and further away from scoring, and a 53-yard field goal was missed by Wildcats kicker Matthew McCrane. And for the second time of the night, all the Longhorns had to do was score to win the game. And that they did, as a mass of people helped carry Chris Warren III into the end zone from the two to give the Longhorns the win over Kansas State, 40-34. Both teams are now 3-2 overall, but the Longhorns remain undefeated in Big XII play at 2-0 while Kansas State is now 1-1. The Longhorns travel to Dallas next weekend for their annual rivalry game with Oklahoma, and Kansas State returns home to host the top-10 ranked Horned Frogs.
  7. It’s fun putting these together while watching Saturday college football. The Defense Might Really Be Good San Jose State had some misconnections. USC did too. And then Iowa State did too. I’m still not entirely convinced that we won’t see some secondary meltdowns and some struggles against competent run games — especially of the 11 and 20 personnel variety — but at a certain point you have to think the defense is contributing to the offense’s mistakes. Pressure and confusion lead to hurried and off-balance throws; big hits lead to alligator arms. We’ll learn a ton about the run defense over these next two weeks, and about the pass defense in the second half of October. Football Magnet We’ll start with DeShon Elliott’s first interception. Iowa State’s running a flood concept similar to stuff Tom Herman likes to run. You’d often see a designed QB rollout accompany a concept like this, but based on the protection I don’t think it was intentional this time. Texas is running a fire zone blitz. The right defensive end, Taquon Graham, spikes to the A gap, while linebacker Anthony Wheeler shoots into the B gap. The left side of Iowa State’s line is in man protection, so the stunt causes trouble for them, and Graham nearly comes free. The defense does a great job rolling with Jacob Park. Malik Jefferson stays under the deep crosser. Naashon Hughes pushed the tight end down (twice), so the checkdown isn’t an option. This wasn’t a good throw, but it wasn’t going to be an easy completion anyway. I had to watch Elliott’s second interception a few times to figure out what Texas was doing. No wonder Park was confused. It looks like Cover 3 Cloud — basically rolling the safeties to the trips side — with P.J. Locke and Wheeler in man coverage. The slot is Hakeem Butler, Iowa State’s season leader in receiving yards, so it makes sense that Todd Orlando would want Locke, not Wheeler, covering him. (Orlando and Texas did a terrific job taking away both Butler and Allen Lazard.) But this is a throw Park should make. Maybe Charles Omenihu’s pressure affected him, but it’s not like he was about to get hit, and Butler had about three steps on Locke. Whatever, we’ll take it. Under Pressure The pressure was definitely a factor here. What I like about this play and camera angle is that it shows an exaggerated, prevent-style version of what Shane Buechele was looking at for much of the game — and gives an example of how you beat it … if your tackle doesn’t get whipped. Texas is rushing three, putting five defenders underneath and leaving three over the top. When it goes right, the quarterback has lots of time but no openings, and there are eight pairs of eyes focused on him, ready to make him pay for an errant pass (ahem). Like all defenses, it has its weaknesses. An option route to the slot on the left against Jefferson might have been good, but Iowa State elected to try the same on the opposite side against Locke. I know I’m supposed to be talking defense right now, but these are roles Reggie Hemphill-Mapps and Lil’Jordan Humphrey were born for. Anyway, Breckyn Hager bull rushes the right tackle back into Park’s face, and you can see the result. Jefferson was shot out of a cannon here. And by the way, note that this is the fourth different coverage Texas has run in four videos. There’s one more clip — and coverage — to come. 2-Man is nothing fancy, but just think about that for a second. This is a defense that was overwhelmed by the idea of base Cover 3 the past two seasons. 2-Man just means the five underneath defenders are in man coverage and there are two deep safeties splitting the field. Texas could rush four, but they opt instead to let Jefferson hang back and spy Park. If he sees a clear path to the QB, or if the QB breaks the pocket, that’s the starting gun. This is what we thought Jefferson would be. Holy crap. Eliminate the Playmakers The guys Texas had to take away were Lazard, Butler and David Montgomery. This is a good look at how you do it. Make the other guys beat you. Iowa State won this round, but they lost enough of the other rounds that it didn’t matter. And that’s the point. The first threat is Lazard. Texas “clouds” his side, with a cornerback underneath and a safety over the top. The next threat is Butler. They run a high-low bracket on him, too, with Locke underneath and the other safety over the top. That leaves everyone else in man coverage. Jefferson blitzes, and since the back stays in to block, Wheeler can blitz too. The pass rush gets too far upfield, though, leaving Park tons of space to step up and survey the field until someone can get open. The Offense Is Certainly Not Good This is a 9-3 defense and a 3-9 offense. I don’t want to make too many assertions since I haven’t done the full rewatch yet, but I feel pretty confident saying Tim Beck is inflexible and not doing a good job getting the ball to playmakers. Remember when Herman said it’s “players, not plays”? Repeated handoffs to Kyle Porter and Hemphill-Mapps’ disappearing act since Maryland are the opposite of that. It’s also for this reason that I’m finally ready to concede that Texas should probably go with Sam Ehlinger. Buechele is the better passer, but “QB run” is always going to be Beck’s plan B when things aren’t going right. Ehlinger at least gives the offense a chance to overcome its coordinator. Run Game Holding my tongue until I can do a full rewatch, but we’ve got to talk about the touchdown and the fumble. Texas ran the same play twice in a row for the first touchdown. On the first play, the backside defensive end spikes into the B gap and the corner comes up in run support, but the Will linebacker is lost. It’s really not a bad job by Cade Brewer, the H-back, with the iso block on the Mike linebacker. Chris Warren keeps his legs moving for a decent gain. The second time, the strongside defensive tackle and end stunt inside. Brewer has to adjust his path to get to the Mike. The key block, though, is right tackle Derek Kerstetter. That’s beautiful. Warren displayed nice vision, even if he’s not the most graceful back through the hole. I don’t know that I have a huge problem with the play-call on the reverse, but I think I’d rather have Hemphill carrying it, and it probably wasn’t going to work anyway. The play looks like outside zone read, but Iowa State’s nickelback wasn’t buying it. Armanti Foreman starts upfield before turning back for the toss (I’m not sure it was designed to be a handoff … I think a toss is easier to execute). Brewer will block the guy lined up on Foreman to keep him from running the play down. I don’t know what Tristan Nickelson’s doing, and he doesn’t either. Brewer’s got the outside backer, and the inside linebacker sure as hell isn’t going to blow up the exchange, but the damn defensive end might. Ugly. Buechele Credit where it’s due: This was a great call. A problem with Quarters coverage is that the Mike linebacker can get matched up one-on-one with the tailback running up the seam. Texas wasn’t expecting pressure — it was really well-disguised — but they still got the matchup they wanted. You don’t see this often, mainly because it can be hard to protect the quarterback long enough, but they got it done here. Here’s how Iowa State neutralized Collin Johnson. (Hint: It was the same thing Texas did to Lazard.) We have to guess a little on the routes and coverage because of the camera shot, but it’s probably 3 Verticals, and maybe against a version of Quarter-Quarter-Half. The important part is what’s happening up top, where Iowa State did a nice job concealing its intent to bracket Johnson. It’s a good question whether the coverage all night was good or Buechele wasn’t seeing the field well. I’m sure it was one or the other at various times, but this time it was probably good coverage. Boochele This, on the other hand, is probably on the quarterback. Texas is running a high-low concept to the boundary that is specifically designed to beat this coverage, but Buechele gives up on it very quickly. Maybe he doesn’t trust his arm, but he should be able to fit the ball into that window, especially with a 6-foot-6 receiver who is difficult to overthrow. So Buechele comes back to the other side of the field. I can’t say for sure without seeing the all-22, but it also looks as though the safety is deep enough that Foreman should be open on the dig route. To be fair, Buechele cocks his arm back — probably to throw to Foreman — when he feels the pressure and tries to escape. I don’t think he should have gotten to this point in his progression, though. This time the read was correct, but the pressure disrupted the timing. There’s a void in centerfield against ISU’s 2-Man coverage; all Texas needs is for Jerrod Heard to outrun his man, which he does. Unfortunately, Iowa State had already counted to two-Mississippi and could now hit Buechele. By the time he’s able to throw the ball, the window is closed, but he throws it anyway. K-Steak I haven’t gotten to study Kansas State yet, but I’m sure I know what I’ll see: a QB-heavy run game from 11 personnel that has given Texas’ linebackers — these same linebackers who are still playing — headaches in the past, and a defense that has been stingy. Their run defense is highly ranked, and I consider this game the first true test of the linebackers’ progress. The week after that, Oklahoma will put everyone to the test.
  8. Quarterback Playing in his first game since the season opener against Maryland, Shane Buechele had a mixed bag of results. The sophomore ended the night 19 of 26 passing for 171 yards and a touchdown. He also added 13 rushes for 53 yards. During the first half, I thought Buechele played well and was able to find a rhythm in the passing game. His touchdown pass to Toneil Carter was one of the best throws he has made in his career, standing in the pocket and delivering a perfect ball when he knew he was about to get hit. Unfortunately when the penalties started piling up and the offensive line broke down in the second half, Buechele struggled mightily. His lone interception was a pass that he tried to force down the field into coverage. Iowa State brought 3 rushers for most of the night, and Buechele never seemed to completely trust his offensive line, often times moving outside of the pocket before he needed to. Scoring 17 points against a defense like Iowa State is not good. A lot of fans were unhappy about the QB play, and deservedly so. As I was watching the second half it occurred to me that no one on the offense is being put in a position to succeed. Right now, players are being asked to do things they are not good at and their strengths are not being utilized. Starting Sam Ehlinger next week is not going to solve a lot of the problems. Buechele has to improve, though. I will give a passing grade due to his first half play, his success running the ball (I still cringe every time I see a QB power) and because a lot of the breakdowns in the second half were not his fault, but he needs to take better care of the football and take what the defense gives him. Grade: C Running Backs Following the first drive it looked like Chris Warren was well on his way to a monster game, but he only finished with 44 yards on 16 carries and one touchdown. Kyle Porter was certainly not much better – carrying the ball 17 times for 41 yards. It is quite frustrating to watch the offensive staff try to run Porter between the tackles and then try to give Warren runs off tackle. The offensive line is not giving the running backs anything to work with. In particular, Warren seemed to be getting hit at or behind the line of scrimmage on nearly every run following the first drive. The fumble on the reverse play was a good play call, but poorly executed. The ball should not have been pitched once Warren saw the traffic he was going to have to navigate through. The pass blocking for both backs looked decent, but right now the primary focus has to be figuring out how to get Chris Warren going. Maybe Texas needs to utilize the screen game more, like the play at the end of the first half. Toneil Carter was the bright spot on the entire offense and helped pull this group’s grade up. He saw his first extended action of the season and looked very good. A couple of his runs were called back due to penalties, but the freshman still finished the night with 4 carries for 14 yards to go along with 2 receptions for 23 yards and a touchdown. Carter has the best burst out of any running back playing right now, and I think the coaching staff is beginning to realize that. He will continue to see more playing time going forward and hopefully can become a nice compliment to Porter and Warren for the rest of the season. Grade: C+ Wide Receivers It was a quiet game from the receiver group, mainly due to the absence of any sort of consistent passing game. Lil’ Jordan Humphrey led the way with 4 catches for 36 yards, with the next highest yardage total coming from Collin Johnson with 2 catches for 27 yards. One problem I saw was the inability for receivers to get open when Buechele was outside the pocket. There were several plays where Buechele had more than 5 seconds to throw, and it looked like receivers were doing a poor job of coming back to the QB and finding ways to get open. The blocking in the screen game continues to need work. It is baffling that guys like Devin Duvernay and Jerrod Heard continue to be absent in game plans and are hardly being utilized. Grade: C Tight Ends Kendall Moore and Cade Brewer saw all the playing time at tight end again. Moore’s role in the offense basically becomes mute when the offensive line is allowing constant pressure. I saw several plays where Moore handled his man, but 2 or 3 other guys got beat and the play never developed. Brewer caught 1 pass for 6 yards and was otherwise quiet. Neither tight end stuck out, but neither tight end is the reason that Texas was not moving the ball well. It will be nice when Texas develops an offensive identity, because I think Brewer in particular is too much of a weapon to not be a difference maker. Texas still lacks a complete tight end that can block well and catch, but tight end is low of the list of what is plaguing the offense right now. Grade: C+ Offensive Line At halftime, I was writing down some thoughts and I actually planned on praising the offensive line’s play given the circumstances. The second half completely changed that. The offensive line allowed pressure the entire second half and committed penalty after penalty. Texas commits on average 9 penalties per game, ranking 115th in the country. Derek Kerstetter had a rough second half but actually performed decently well overall. He is a plus blocker in the run game and plays through the whistle. He is still a work in progress in pass protection, but it is obvious that the potential is there and the staff likes what they have in the true freshman. I mentioned this in my post game thoughts, but Tristan Nickelson is at his best when he is asked to block straight ahead and not move east/west. Calling an off tackle sweep or reverse to his side is just not smart play-calling. The coaching staff needs to know what their offensive line succeeds at and put them in less vulnerable positions. The interior of the offensive line created no push in the run game and performed okay in the pass game. Patrick Vahe and Jake McMillon need to be difference makers up front with the absence of Connor Williams, and they did not perform that way on Thursday. Zach Shackelford actually looked to change the way he held the ball pre-snap, and had a clean game in that regard. The unit as a whole looked good in the first half due to Iowa State rushing 3, but once they began to bring pressure in the second half, things unraveled quickly. Run Blocking Grade: D+ Pass Blocking Grade: D
  9. AMES, IA — The last time Texas travelled to Ames, Iowa the Longhorns managed just 204 yards of total offense and zero points on the scoreboard in a 24-0 shutout at Jack Trice Stadium. It was Halloween night in 2015 and there were no tricks involved. The Longhorns were simply outplayed. The loss was the first ever to the Cyclones on the road and the second to then-head coach Paul Rhoads in 5 years. The Longhorns (2-2, 1-0) and starting quarterback Shane Buechele didn’t put up huge offensive numbers in the 17-7 victory over Iowa State (2-2, 0-1) on Thursday night, but instead rode the backs of Todd Orlando’s defense en route to their first road and conference win of the season. After winning the coin toss and deferring to the second half, the Texas defense made its presence known early, holding the Cyclones to 4 yards on 3 plays in the game’s opening drive. The defense would continue to heat up, pressuring quarterback Jacob Park and forcing 3 interceptions on the night. DeShon Elliott picked off Park twice for his 3rd and 4th interceptions in four games, while Kris Boyd grabbed his first of the season in the second quarter. The Longhorns found the end zone on their first offensive possession, courtesy of an 11 yard Chris Warren scamper made possible by an extension of downs via an Iowa State unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Texas would add to its lead at the 5:29 mark in the second quarter when Shane Buechele hit freshman running back Toneil Carter in stride for 22 yards and the score. At the half the Longhorns led the Cyclones 14-0. The first score of the second half came with 2:05 left in the 3rd quarter, when Iowa State’s Park found Matthew Eaton for an 11 yard touchdown, the first points of the game for the Cyclones. After three quarters of play the Longhorns led Iowa State 14-7. Texas kicker Josh Rowland would connect on a 49 yard field goal with 13:25 remaining in the 4th quarter, giving the Longhorns a 17-7 lead. Texas would hold the Cyclone offense in check for the remainder of the game and secure a 17-7 road win in Ames. While the win wasn’t picture perfect, it was just that – a win. A win Texas desperately needed to salvage its season and potentially turn things around as the meat of the schedule approaches. Texas deserves the celebration but it will be short-lived, as the Longhorns will immediately begin preparing for Kansas State next Saturday in Austin. Stat facts The Longhorns held Iowa State to just 10 yards rushing and 256 yards of total offense. The Texas rushing woes continued, with Texas’ leading rusher gaining 44 yards on 16 carries (Chris Warren III). Texas rushed 5 players 52 times for a total of 141 yards (averaging 2.7 yards per carry). Shane Buechele threw for 171 yards and a touchdown in his first game back as the starter since suffering a shoulder injury. Li’lJ Humphrey led the Texas receiving corps on the night with 4 receptions for 36 yards. Texas was penalized 10 times for 76 yards. The Longhorns turned the ball over twice in the game (1-INT, 1-FUM). Takeaway The offensive identity of this team still remains to be seen, but it’s clear that the defense has turned the corner and continues to keep the Longhorns in football games. Tonight’s win was devoid of a base running game again, which will inevitably catch up to the Longhorns sooner or later as they face stronger Big 12 competition. Connor Williams’ absence on the offensive line is noticeable, as Tristian Nickelson continues to be overmatched at the left tackle position. The Longhorns are thin at line depth and will have to grind it out and improve play moving forward, as Williams could be out for the long haul.
  10. 1. Chris Warren gets his carries, but the running game is still struggling It become obvious during the first drive that Tom Herman and Tim Beck were not going to let Chris Warren go virtually unused for the second straight game. Warren carried the ball 16 times for 48 yards and added 2 catches for 23 yards. Outside of Warren, the running game struggled again. Toneil Carter needs to see more carries going forward. I will give credit to Kyle Porter, who gained the tough yards in the 4th quarter when Texas ran out the clock. Going forward, the Texas offense is going to continue to struggle scoring if they are this one-dimensional. 2. The lack of offensive execution I have defended Tim Beck and the offense through the first 3 games of the year, but Texas can not continue to show the type of offensive performances they have the past 2 games. Against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU and West Virginia, the Texas defense is going to allow points. The offense has to find a way to string together drives. I am not entirely sure if inserting Sam Ehlinger is the answer. Right now, the quarterback is not in a position to succeed in the Texas offense. 3. The Offensive Line Despite Iowa State rushing 3 and dropping 8 back most of the night, I was underwhelmed with the performance of the offensive line. Tristan Nickelson and Derek Kerstetter committed numerous holding penalties, and Nickelson in particular struggled mightily. Texas simply has to scrap all runs in the playbook that go outside the tackle to the left side because nearly every time it results in either a negative play or a hold called on the LT. There were a few positives I took away, too. Aside from the second half penalties, freshman Derek Kerstetter played very well and gives the Longhorns something they can work with at right tackle. At this point of the season the offensive line is average, and they played that way against Iowa State. 4. Penalties The amount of penalties committed by the Longhorns is alarming. The worst part is that many of these penalties are happening 5-10 yards away from the play. In particular, the penalties on special teams need to corrected quickly. Fans can talk about the offensive play-calling all they want, but it’s hard to call plays when there is a holding or false start penalty seemingly every other play. Texas was lucky to escape with a road win after committing 10 penalties. 5. DeShon Elliott shines again I think it is safe to say that DeShon Elliott has turned the corner. The junior had 2 more interceptions tonight and a sack. He also played excellent against the run. Elliott is playing at an all-conference level right now, and is one of the main reasons the Texas defense is playing as well as they are. There is no doubt that this is the player that fans were expecting the past 2 years.
  11. Staff Predictions: Texas vs. Iowa State

    They cannot come out flat or it may be a long night.
  12. Are You #TeamBuechele Or #TeamEhlinger?

    If I’m starting out a game, Shane. If I’m down 3 with under 2:00 to go in the game, Sam. Might be an unpopular opinion but that’s where I’m at.
  13. 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.
  14. 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+
  15. 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.
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