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Found 705 results

  1. Harrison Wier

    Staff Predictions: TCU

    The Longhorns look to keep the momentum going as Gary Patterson and TCU come to town. Can Tom Herman break the curse and get a win against Patterson? Our staff weighs in. Daniel Seahorn (1-2) This team proved me wrong last week by picking up the win over USC, but this week’s game against TCU brings a much stiffer test. It’s no secret that Gary Patterson and the Horned Frogs have had Texas’ number for several years running and that alone makes it tough for me to pick Texas. I know I said it last week, but Texas will have to find a way to beat TCU this week before I can confidently pick them in this matchup going forward. Prediction: TCU: 35, Texas 21 Jameson McCausland (2-1) Until I see it actually happen, I can’t pick Texas to beat TCU. Gary Patterson has a strong dislike for Texas, and his players have physically whipped the Longhorns the past 4 years. The last time Texas scored more than 10 points against the Horned Frogs was in 2013 with Case McCoy at the helm. Texas has made strides, but TCU’s offense is built to exploit some of the issues the Longhorns defense has shown early in the season. It’s hard to see the Texas offense being able to match TCU score-for-score. Prediction: TCU 27, Texas 17 Aaron Carrara (2-1) Texas showed out last week in their dismantling of USC, and all eyes are on the Longhorns this week in their matchup against TCU. TCU has an explosive offense, a nasty defense and team speed on both sides of the ball. The Longhorns have a quarterback that has shown improvement from game to game, a running back corps that is improving and a defense that held USC to -5 rushing yards last week. The Texas defense must be able to contain TCU quarterback Shawn Robinson and his array of offensive weapons, because while Texas has the capacity to put up points, it can’t match TCU in scoring. TCU is 5-1 vs. Texas since joining the Big 12 and Gary Patterson will employ a barrage of blitzes in his 4-2-5 defense on Saturday night to try and notch Big 12 win #6 against the Longhorns. In the end I don’t think Texas can keep up with TCU and loses a close one to drop back to .500. Prediction: TCU 42, Texas 38 Harrison Wier (1-2) Texas’ win against USC was impressive last weekend, but I believe it spoke more about the Trojans than it did the Longhorns. The real test comes tomorrow at 3:30. Texas has the home field advantage with an anticipated crowd. TCU comes to town with a typically loaded Gary Patterson team. Although Texas has improved, I don’t see them pulling this one out. TCU has a stellar defense that presents the ability to give Texas QB Sam Ehlinger fits. If Texas stands a chance, they’ll have to effectively run the ball — which I don’t see happening. Mix that in with Shawn Robinson’s ability to exploit the Texas defense and this game just seems to far out of reach. Texas is improving, but not enough to get over the hump that’s TCU. Prediction: TCU 38, Texas 21
  2. Get your predictions in for Saturday. This will be used in calculating points for the Coop gift card.
  3. Prior to Saturday night’s game between the Texas Longhorns (2-1, 0-0) and the #21 USC Trojans (1-2, 0-1), Texas head coach Tom Herman told his team to “cut it loose and don’t leave anything behind.” With more than 50 recruits that hold scholarship offers from teams in Power 5 conferences in attendance, the Longhorns and Herman needed a resounding win over a team they were favored to beat. The Longhorns did just that, shaking off an early USC lead to defeat the Trojans 37-14 in front of an energetic crowd of 103,507 at Darrell K. Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium. The win goes in the record books as #900 for the program, but more importantly Tom Herman and Texas improve to 2-1 on the season. Ture freshman quarterback JT Daniels marched the Trojans down the field on the opening possession, capping off a 9 play 75-yard drive with a 20-yard touchdown run by sophomore running back Stephen Carr. The Longhorns answered USC’s score with a 20-yard field goal by true freshman Cameron Dicker, the first of his career at Texas. Sophomore Vavae Malepeai’s 3-yard touchdown scamper increased the Trojan lead to 14-3 with :33 left in the first quarter — the last time the Trojans would score a point in the contest. The Longhorns answered USC with a touchdown of their own at the 13:23 mark in the second quarter. Sam Ehlinger would connect with LJ Humphrey, who out-sprinted a tandem of USC defenders for a 47-yard touchdown, cutting the USC lead to 14-10. On USC’s next possession, Kris Boyd intercepted JT Daniels, setting the Longhorns up at their own 49 yard-line. Cameron Dicker added his second field goal of the night, this time from 46 yards out. USC led Texas 14-13 with 10:39 left in the quarter. As the first-half clock expired, Dicker gave Texas its first lead over the Trojans, making good on a 46-yard field goal. At the half the Longhorns led USC 16-13. Texas struck early in the third quarter, extending its lead to 23-13 on Joshua Moore’s 27-yard touchdown reception from Sam Ehlinger. Caden Sterns blocked USC kicker Chase McGrath’s 46-yard field goal attempt at the 6:25 mark, which was scooped up by linebacker Anthony Wheeler and returned for a touchdown. The Longhorns increased their lead to 30-14. Sam Ehlinger gave Texas its third touchdown of the quarter on a designed quarterback draw from 4 yards out with 1:42 remaining. After three quarters, the Longhorns scored 34 unanswered points and led USC 37-14. Both teams would go scoreless in the fourth quarter, and the Longhorns would win by the final score of 37-14. Game Notes: Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger threw for 223 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed for 35 yards and one touchdown. Tre Watson led the Longhorns in rushing with 72 yards on 18 carries. Daniel Young finished the night with 57 yards on 12 carries. The Texas defense held USC to -5 rushing yards on 16 carries. Texas kicker Cameron Dicker went 3-3 tonight in field goals and made good on 4/4 extra points. Wide receiver LJ Humphrey had another big night, hauling in four receptions for 84 yards and a touchdown. Joshua Moore caught his first career touchdown pass in the 3rd quarter of tonight’s contest. Texas set an all-time attendance record tonight (103,507). The Longhorns join Michigan and Ohio State as the only FBS programs to reach 900 wins. The Longhorns will face TCU at Darrell K. Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium next Saturday at 3:30 PM.
  4. Get your picks in for USC. This will be the thread that is used in calculating points for the competition.
  5. “May I have your attention please?” The Texas Longhorns tallied just 98 rushing yards against the Maryland Terrapins in 2017. Flash forward a year and that number didn’t get much better. Texas amassed 142 yards on 36 carries for 3.9 yards per carry average in the loss in Landover. The team still can’t identify its feature running back or backs. D’Onta Foreman had 2,028 total rushing yards in 2016. Daniel Young led all running backs last season with 373 yards. Let that sink in. Worster, Campbell, Williams, Holmes, Benson, Charles — it’s part of who Texas football is. And Texas should have a better-than-average ground game every year — period. The lack of production on the ground was apparent last season, and Texas knew they needed to do something to address it. Adding Cal grad transfer Tre Watson in the off-season was a great step in that direction, and the signing of Carthage High School running back Keaontay Ingram in February indicated promise for the future. Daniel Young had a decent freshman year last season, and guys like Kyle Porter and Toneil Carter are more than serviceable at the position. It’s not for a lack of talent or depth in the running game. “Please stand up, Please stand up.” The offensive line still has work to do, but they are an improved unit from last season. Ehlinger was sacked just once, and that was largely in-part to Ehlinger holding on to the ball too long. Watson’s debut with the Longhorns resulted in 12 carries for 52 yards. He led the Longhorns in rushing, averaging 4.3 yards per carry. Listed on the depth chart as the co-starter, Daniel Young carried the ball 8 times for 27 yards. Kyle Porter and D’Shawn Jamison combined for -4 yards on 3 carries. True freshman Keaontay Ingram had 6 carries for 37 yards, averaging 6.2 yards per carry, including a long of 18 yards and a touchdown. Ingram’s average and longest run were best on the day among all running backs, yet Ingram didn’t see more carries. He should have. The season is still very young but Tom Herman and Texas need to figure things out quickly, particularly at running back. In a sputtering offense filled with inconsistencies, a power running game can provide the spark an offense needs to get back on track. Watson’s experience warrants him receiving significant carries early on, but not at the expense of lightning in a bottle. It’s still too early to anoint Keaontay Ingram as the undisputed starter of the running back unit, just like it is too early to write off a guy like Daniel Young. The coaches are paid to make adjustments after watching film and fine-tune the depth chart accordingly. Next week will tell whether or not the necessary adjustments were made
  6. Harrison Wier

    Staff Predictions: Maryland

    Texas is looking to get 2018 started on the right track, after dropping last season's opener to Maryland. Our staff delves into what the Longhorns must do to avenge last year's loss. Daniel Seahorn After the debacle last year to open the season, this prediction comes with a bit of a wrinkle for me. We all felt that Texas would win the game and it certainly felt it was heading that way early, but we all know how that ended up playing out. Chapter two of this series will be interesting because the Terps have dealt with a ton of distractions heading into this matchup and I expect Texas to be dialed in on making hints right after the let down in Austin. With new offensive coordinator Matt Canada calling the shots for Maryland, there could be a bit of a surprise element for the Terps, who have opted not to name a starter at QB. I expect a better performance from the Longhorns, but I’m in wait and see mode before I predict them handling the Terps as the spread indicates. I’m picking Texas to get redemption, but I think it will be close for most of the way. Prediction: Texas 28, Maryland 21 Jameson McCausland Football is finally back! Last year, I predicted the Longhorns to be victorious over Maryland by a final of 35-10. Not the best start. This year’s rematch features many interesting headlines. It will be interesting to see how Maryland plays with a cloud of uncertainty surrounding their program. Interim head coach Matt Canada has some talent to work with offensively and Maryland proved last year they are not scared of the Longhorns. Despite Texas being dangerously thin at LB, Todd Orlando has earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to scheming around his personnel. For Texas on offense, Sam Ehlinger will need to show he has taken the next step in his development. Maryland lost several key players defensively, and an improved offensive line should give Ehlinger time to get the ball to Collin Johnson and Lil'Jordan Humphrey. I think Maryland will keep it close for a majority of the game, but Texas won’t allow themselves to get embarrassed by the Terrapins for the second year in a row. Prediction: Texas 31, Maryland 17 Aaron Carrara Can a sputtering Texas offense get things going early and establish some consistency? That’s been the key question for the last few years and Texas has yet to make us think it can. It’s game one and Ehlinger’s ability to manage the offense will be under the magnifying glass, as will the team’s ability to find a running game. An offensive line with more experience and upperclassmen should help in that effort, especially with the addition of Calvin Anderson at left tackle. I expect the defensive unit to respond early to what will likely amount to a heavy rushing attack from the Terrapins’ dual-threat quarterbacks Tyrrell Pigrome and Kasim Hill. Texas shows signs of rust in this one but wins its opener to start Tom Herman’s second-year campaign at 1-0. Prediction: Texas 38, Maryland 24 Harrison Wier A large advantage Texas has going into round two of this matchup is consistency. For the first time in years, the Longhorns are familiar with scheme on both sides of the ball. The Texas offense has not had the same identity for more than one year in quite some time. This sense of familiarity allows for less time learning in the offseason and more time crafting and perfecting. For Maryland, the story is different. Head coach DJ Durkin is on administrative leave, and newly implemented offensive coordinator Matt Canada is taking the reigns for week one. Maryland was already tasked with learning a new offensive scheme this offseason, but now they have to play under an entirely different coach. For the Longhorns, defense should not be an issue, even after losing several key contributors to graduation and the NFL. Todd Orlando knows how to prepare, and the addition of the 2018 class gives the Texas defense the potential to be just as good as last season. On offense, Sam Ehlinger should be drastically improved in his decision making and awareness in the pocket, and the Texas run game should be on a different level. The addition of graduate transfers Calvin Anderson (LT) and Tre Watson (RB) will add a new dimension to the Longhorns offense. Although Maryland is no slouch, I expect Texas to be vastly improved from a year ago. This game will be tight, but Texas will pull away late. Prediction: Texas 38, Maryland 28
  7. The Texas Longhorns hope to start the 2018 season with a road win over the Maryland Terrapins, the same team that pulled an upset last year in Austin. The Terrapins finished the 2017 campaign with a less than desirable 4-8 record, with the win over Texas serving as the pinnacle of the season for head coach DJ Durkin. Texas, after the season-opening loss in 2017, managed to salvage a winning record after finishing 6-6 in the regular season and defeating Missouri 33-17 in the Texas Bowl. Both teams have plenty to compete for, but for the Longhorns, redemption from last year’s loss is paramount. Texas has opened the season on the road just twice in the last 22 years. One of those games was in Houston against Rice in 2010 (Texas 34, Rice 17) and the other was against Notre Dame in 2015 (Notre Dame 38, Texas 3). Longhorns head coach Tom Herman is aware of the mental challenges his players face as they prepare for Saturday’s game. Maryland is hoping for a repeat of last year’s success against Texas, and they will do so under new leadership. Offensive coordinator Matt Canada has taken the reins as interim head coach, as DJ Durkin was recently placed on administrative leave while the University conducts its investigation of the football program following the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair. Canada will utilize a capable offense that returns eight starters, including every player on the offensive line and two quarterbacks that did their share of damage against the Longhorns last year. Redshirt sophomore Tyrell Pigrome threw for two touchdowns and ran for another before leaving the game with a torn ACL in the third quarter. His backup, freshman Kasim Hill, finished off the Longhorns by leading two touchdown drives in the fourth quarter and ensuring a Terrapin victory. Hill tore his ACL several weeks later in the Terrapins’ loss to Central Florida. Both quarterbacks could see playing time against Texas on Saturday, as both are listed as potential starters on the team’s depth chart. The Maryland defense finished the 2017 season ranked 86th nationally, allowing 419 yards of offense per game. They return five starters on a unit that gave up 473 yards to a young Texas offense last season. Texas returns seven starters on offense, and appears to have found its leader at the quarterback position in sophomore Sam Ehlinger. Ehlinger won the job over junior Shane Buechele, who started last year’s contest against Maryland, throwing for 375 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for another score in the loss to the Terrapins. Herman gave the nod to Ehlinger, but Buechele has progressed as of late and made Herman’s decision difficult: If Ehlinger manages the game in an efficient manner and plays steady, solid football, Buechele’s services won’t be necessary. Should the Longhorns fall behind and Ehlinger fail to provide the necessary spark to the offense, expect Buechele to see the field. A struggling cadre of running backs proved to be a thorn in the side for the Longhorns last season, which finished 95th out of 129 FBS teams in rushing offense. Texas amassed just 98 rushing yards using five rushers against the Maryland defense last year for 3.2 yards per carry. Chris Warren led the team with just 31 yards. Those statistics must improve if Texas expects to become an elite football program once again. Texas gives a new look at the running back position to start the season, with graduate transfer Tre Watson and sophomore Daniel Young listed as the first string options at the position. Carthage High School standout freshman Keaontay Ingram is listed as the second string option. The Texas defense returns seven starters on a unit that allowed just 366 yards per game. While the loss of LB Malik Jefferson leaves a void on and off the field, the emergence of upperclassmen players like Anthony Wheeler, Malcolm Roach and Gary Johnson will add value to Todd Orlando’s schemes. The game will kick-off at 11:00 AM CST at FedExField in Landover, Maryland, and will be televised on FS1.
  8. Maryland released their Week 1 depth chart Tuesday afternoon. Interim head coach Matt Canada will lead a team that returns several key starters from a squad that defeated Texas 51-41 in Austin last season. We look at what to expect from the Maryland offense as gameday inches closer. Quarterback The initial depth chart has the dreaded “OR” at the quarterback spot. Redshirt freshman Tyrrell Pigrome and redshirt sophomore Kasim Hill are currently listed as co-starters. Matt Canada said he knows who the starter is going to be, but declined to reveal it to the media. Translation: Canada wants Texas to have to game plan for both guys. Both quarterbacks should be familiar to Texas fans. Pigrome started against the Longhorns in 2017 and made his presence known, finishing 9-12 through the air for 175 yards and 2 scores while also adding 64 yards and a touchdown on the ground. When Pigrome suffered a season-ending injury in the 3rd quarter, Hill came off the bench to lead a touchdown drive to put the game out of reach for Texas. Canada will be in his first year as the play-caller for the Terrapins, and his offense should present different challenges than those that Walt Bell brought to Austin a year ago. Canada loves to utilize various motions to create mismatches (think Bryan Harsin). It will be interesting to see how Canada uses the running ability of Pigrome and Hill, something he hasn’t had the luxury of having with quarterbacks at his previous schools. Running Back Regardless of who starts at QB, Maryland will lean heavily on senior RB Ty Johnson, who considered entering the draft but decided to return for his senior season. The 2018 Doak Walker Award Watch List member rushed for 875 yards and 5 touchdowns in 2017, with 132 of those yards coming in Austin. Unfortunately for Johnson, his stats took a major hit last season because of how decimated the Terrapins were with injuries. Johnson is Maryland’s best offensive player. In addition to his touches in the backfield, he will also be heavily involved in the return game. Backup RB Lorenzo Harrison rushed for over 600 yards in 2017, including 11 carries for 45 yards against the Longhorns. Redshirt freshman Anthony McFarland could see a few touches, but I would expect Johnson and Harrison to be worked heavily this Saturday. Wide Receiver/ Tight End Last years matchup featured a huge game from WR DJ Moore, who torched Texas for 133 yards on 7 catches and a touchdown. Moore has since taken his talents to the NFL, but the Terrapins still return some weapons on the outside. Davion Jacobs returns for his 6th year of eligibility and was named to the Athlon Sports Preseason All-Big 10 Team. Jahrvis Davenport and DJ Turner will occupy the other two starting spots, neither of whom made an impact a season ago. Interesting note: All 3 starters at WR are shorter than 6’0. The Texas secondary will definitely have a size advantage. TE Chigoziem Okonkwo is the lone freshman starter on either side of the ball for the Terrapins. Offensive Line Maryland returns talent and experience along the offensive line, returning 4 of 5 starters who manhandled the Texas defensive front a year ago. Tackles Derwin Gray and Damian Prince are seniors who serve as the anchors of the offensive line. The only new starter is center Johnny Jordan, who checks in at 6’1 and 304 pounds. The offensive line is the strength of the Terrapins offense. Gray and Prince are as solid of a tackle duo as you will find. Experience in the trenches matter, and Maryland has a lot of it. The good news for Texas is that they have an experienced defensive line, led by Breckyn Hager and Charles Omenihu. It’s a cliche that could be said about any game, but the ability or inability of Texas to get into the Maryland backfield consistently will be the deciding factor of how the 2018 season will begin.
  9. With winter workouts in the rearview, it’s that time of year where the weather warms back up and the helmets and shoulder pads get dusted off for spring practice. Spring training is the appetizer for the main course, which will come this fall. It is just enough to give the fans and coaches an idea of what the team will look like when the season kicks of in September. As usual, we are all curious to see which upperclassmen are going to step and take ownership of leadership roles, who is going to lay claim to starting spots, and how the latest crop of freshmen are adapting to their new lives as collegiate athletes. For the players this is an opportunity to knock the rust off, establish chemistry with the new arrivals, and get a chance to compete before hitting the lull of the hot summer months. Who is going to make a positive impression on the staff and who is going to squander it? We will find out the answers in time. As always there are always storylines aplenty and plenty of things to discuss this time of year and in this article the HornSports staff pick out the storylines they will be watching this closest this spring. Daniel Seahorn 1. The Quarterback battle This will probably be the most frequently discussed storyline — and it should be — considering it’s the most important position on the entire team. Shane Buechele is entering his third year in Austin and he is set to do battle with sophomore signal caller Sam Ehlinger this spring. Most will probably peg Ehlinger to be the man heading into the 2018 season, but I expect reps to be divided pretty evenly this spring and for there to be a lot of coach speak that doesn’t tip the coaches hand unless someone is head and shoulders above the other. Either Ehlinger or Buechele will have to be much better in 2018 if this team wants to have a chance at taking the next step forward, but that will also be dependent on the improvement of the next group on my list. 2. The Offensive Line’s first spring under Herb Hand If you’re a Texas offensive linemen that’s been on campus for four years, then you’ve had four different offensive line coaches in charge during your time in Austin. That’s far from ideal and it’s time for Texas to start establishing some continuity at a position that stresses it. It’s hard to build up chemistry and continuity when you are hearing so many different voices and having to adapt to different coaching styles that probably stress different ideals. While the Texas offensive line was far from great and it will have to cope with losing Connor Williams to the NFL, it returns a lot of experience from last year and will inject Calvin Anderson at left tackle when he arrives this summer. I think it will be tough for this unit to go backwards considering they had so many injuries and guys playing out of position, but this will be a learning experience for them and their new coach this spring and I’m anxious to see how it plays out. 3. The Linebacker spot aside Gary Johnson With Malik Jefferson declaring early for the NFL Draft, Gary Johnson is likely to slide over into his voided Rover position, but the dilemma is who will lineup next him. Anthony Wheeler is likely to get first crack at first team reps, but he gave way to Johnson last year as Todd Orlando opted to get more speed and athleticism on the field. Linebacker is arguably the thinnest position group on the roster right now and is probably going to take some creativity on Orlando’s part to make some things work, which may include cross training some guys at inside linebacker. Harrison Wier 1. Who will be the guy at Running Back? One of the most important positions needing to be ironed out this spring is running back. After the Texas Bowl, Daniel Young certainly made his case for starting spring ball as the No. 1 back — which is likely going to be the case. Young continues to be the steal of Herman’s transition class. However, plenty of other backs will compete with Young. After several rumors this offseason about a transfer, Toneil Carter is back with the team and more dedicated to his craft than ever. Next up is freshman RB and two-time state champion Keaontay Ingram. In the TXHSFB playoffs this past season, Ingram made it crystal clear that he was the best back in the state. Although he won’t be in Austin until summer workouts begin, Texas is getting an absolute workhorse in the Carthage product. If I were a betting man, I would place my money on Ingram being the starter by the season opener. He is your ideal 3-down back and has all the tools to be a star. One more player that cannot be forgotten is junior Kirk Johnson. Johnson has endured a multitude of injuries in his time at Texas, and is currently battling through another this offseason. All one can hope is that Johnson can finally have a healthy season and show out in response to all the work put in to get back on the field. Stan Drayton is certainly not complaining about the depth of his position room. 2. Who will emerge at outside receiver? The tempting choice here is of course Collin Johnson. Johnson did not have a great year as a sophomore, and frequently found himself on the sidelines. Much of this can be attributed to the fact that Johnson was not performing up to par at practice — which couldn’t fly since Tom Herman was still trying to instill a new mentality and culture. This season, however, Herman must find a way to utilize Johnson. The USC game indicated how dangerous he can be when utilized properly. Although I do think Johnson has a breakout year, I believe Lil’Jordan Humphrey has an even better one. Humphrey is arguably the best athlete on the team, and can fit pretty much anywhere in Herman’s offensive scheme. Humphrey is another player that was underutilized as a sophomore. There are so many ways to get the ball into Humphrey’s hands — and he is a threat in any of those situations. He’s got soft hands to go along with speed and a 6’4 frame. If Johnson and Humphrey are used properly in 2018, the Longhorns offense can add an entire new dimension. P.S. My sleeper pick here is freshman Brennan Eagles. He’s got the size and ability to be a major deep threat. If he sees the field, don’t be surprised to see him make some flashy plays. 3. Who will be Gary Johnson’s partner in crime? As Daniel stated, Gary Johnson will likely move to rover in the absence of Malik Jefferson. His speed and athleticism make that fit a match made in heaven. But with the move of Johnson, a hole needs to be filled — especially when it comes to plugging up the middle and stopping the run. Although the likely candidate is Anthony Wheeler, I really think Ayodele Adeoye could step up as the man down the stretch. Adeoye is not as athletic as Wheeler, but he has the potential to be much more physical. As an ILB in high school, Adeoye lived to hit the gaps and stop the run. This is primarily what Gary Johnson did next to Malik Jefferson last season. Wheeler did step up big time in the absence of Jefferson at the Texas Bowl. Regardless, Todd Orlando has some options to work with. Choosing the right fit is going to be critical in determining if the Texas defense can repeat the success it had last season. Jameson McCausland 1. Who is going to step up at slot receiver? In a relatively quiet offseason, one of the biggest storylines was the transfer of redshirt freshman Reggie Hemphill Mapps. Mapps caught 32 passes for 328 yards in 2017 was poised to play a huge role in the offense in 2018. The coaching staff is going to be need to figure quickly who the go-to receiver will be in the slot, because the position is vital in the type of offense the Longhorn’s want to run. In the 2018 recruiting class, Josh Moore is the most likely candidate to contribute out of the slot, but he not likely to be a major contributor his freshman season. This leaves the coaching staff having to work with current guys on the roster. Senior Jerrod Heard fits the mold of a slot receiver and possesses the athleticism to succeed at the position, but he will need to continue improving his route running. Sophomore Davion Curtis has not play meaningful snaps yet in his career, but has elite speed and displayed good hands coming out of high school. Perhaps the most intriguing option is Lil’ Jordan Humphrey. The 6’5 wideout is one of the most athletic players on the entire roster, and moving him to the slot would help the coaching staff get all their best receivers on the field at the same time. 2. Nickel and the corner spot opposite of Kris Boyd During the bowl game, PJ Locke was moved from Nickelback to safety, where he filled the void left by Deshon Elliott. Locke is likely to stay at safety for his senior season. Senior Antwuan Davis filled in at Nickel against Mizzou, but much of spring practice will be spent trying to find someone to take over one of the most demanding positions in the Todd Orlando defense. Sophomore Josh Thompson will probably get the first crack at filling the role, and the Nacogdoches native was a key special teams member in 2017 and saw limited time on defense. Another possible option could be senior John Bonney, who has played all over the secondary in his first 3 years on the 40 acres. Devante Davis took over the corner position opposite of Kris Boyd following Holton Hill’s suspension during the 2017 season. Davis seemed to improve as the year went along, but will be pushed this spring by redshirt freshman Kobe Boyce and early enrollee Anthony Cook. Smart money would be on Davis being the starter opposite of Boyd against Maryland in the season opener, but it never hurts to have a little depth and competition throughout the spring and summer. 3. The Tight Ends Tom Herman has made it clear from the moment he stepped on campus that the offense he wants to run requires good TE play. Andrew Beck missing the entire 2017 was a loss overlooked by many, but Beck was undoubtedly the best blocking TE and would have helped a struggling offense line open holes in the running game. The good news is Beck is healthy and ready to contribute, but the Longhorn’s still need a 2nd option to emerge at the position. I am still of the belief that sophomore Cade Brewer is the long-term answer at TE, but Brewer will miss all of spring practice as he continues to recover from a torn ACL suffered during practice during the end of last season. Brewer’s injury means redshirt freshmen Reese Leitao and Max Cummins will get plenty of opportunities to show they are ready to be contributors. Cummins is making the transition to the offensive side of the ball after beginning his career as a defensive lineman, so it will be interesting to see how big of a learning curve there is for him, because the physical traits are there.
  10. In typical Texas fashion, the Longhorns were able to hold on in dramatic fashion and defeat Missouri 33-16 to claim the Texas Bowl trophy. With that being said, we still have some thoughts on the game and what 2018 holds. 1. Thank you, Dickson Texas fans need to take in this moment, because it is the last time they will ever see one of the greatest punters in college football history wearing burnt orange. Dickson was easily the best part of the Texas offense in 2017, and is a large reason they were able to pull out the victory tonight. Dickson is going to be a fantastic player for a long time in the NFL. We can’t wait to see what team he goes to. Thanks for the memories, Michael. We will always cherish them. Please transfer some of your skills over to your cousin. We would deeply appreciate it. 2. The Texas defense will be fine The Longhorns defense lacked Malik Jefferson, Holton Hill and DeShon Elliot, and still held the most explosive offense in the SEC to 16 points. Todd Orlando is a wizard that deserves a huge raise. With arguably the greatest DB haul in the history of any recruiting class coming in 2018 along with some other fantastic defensive weapons, Orlando has plenty to work with next year. The loss of Hill, Elliot, and potentially Jefferson can be mended – as we saw tonight. If Tom Herman can figure out a way to create an offensive identity, this team could be scary in a few years. 3. Herman has some decisions to make Some of Tom Herman’s assistants did not have a great year. The most obvious choice here is offensive coordinator Tim Beck. The offense never developed a clear identity, and when it looked like they had, Beck seemed to always turn away from it immediately. Beck’s play-calling was simply mind boggling at times this season. Tom Herman has a tough choice to make here. If he fires Beck after one season, that won’t look good. He will be criticized for it. However, he must do what is best for his program, and keeping Beck could possibly hold this program back. Another coach under the microscope could be Derek Warehime. Warehime’s position group had an atrocious year. Although the offensive line was plagued by injuries, seasoned veterans up front seemed to regress as the year went on. On top of that, Warehime has had some key misses on the recruiting trail. Many have complained about his inability to develop relationships with recruits. Warehime seems to have fixed this as of late, but it is something to keep an eye on. Herman will likely stick with Warehime for another year, but the OL has to do better next year. Without a better OL, this Texas team will not move up much in the win column. 4. The absence of Josh Huepel was felt by Mizzou The most explosive offense in the SEC seemed to be anything but until the 3rd quarter of tonight’s game. It didn’t seem to make much sense that Texas lacked two major players in its defensive secondary, yet the Tigers refused to test them vertically. Finally, something clicked and Missouri tested the Longhorns in the second half. On the first play of the 3rd quarter, Drew Lock connected on an 89-yard bomb that would end up being Missouri’s biggest play of the game. Unfortunately, it was too little too late for Missouri. You have to tip your hat to Todd Orlando for the way he planned this game. He gave Missour fits throughout the first half and much of the 4th quarter, but the Tigers handed the Longhorns some gifts. Simply put, the Missouri did not look ready to play, and it showed. It’s hard to come back from as horrible of a start as Missouri had. The Tigers learned that the hard way. 5. The outlook for 2018 is… A positive one. Texas will bring in a top 5 recruiting class to build off what is a primarily young team. The defense will be solid once again under Todd Orlando’s control. The offense is a gigantic question mark. Tom Herman is considered to be one of the best offensive minds in the game. He is going to have to prove that this offseason by attempting to fix Texas’ offensive issues. If he can do so, the Longhorns can become a contender once again in the Big 12. No matter how you slice it, this was not a pretty season for Texas. However, it was progressive. Going from 5-7 to 7-6 is positive progress – no matter how you look at it. Herman has likely learned many things from his first season at Texas that he will take with him into the offseason. Most importantly, Texas earned its first winning season since 2013. The Longhorns are one step closer to returning to their rightful place among college football’s elite programs.
  11. Harrison Wier

    Team News

    Tom Herman has announced that Texas DT Chris Nelson will not play in the Texas Bowl due to injury. Further, WR Lil’Jordan Humphrey, RB Toneil Carter and TE Garrett Gray will not play in the bowl game due to a violation of team rules. More hits to the depth chart for Texas...
  12. The Texas Longhorns (6-6) are back in action on Wednesday night in Houston as they face the Missouri Tigers (7-5) in the Academy Sports and Outdoors Texas Bowl. Texas will be without several starters who have decided to declare for the NFL Draft and sit out of the Longhorns’ first bowl game since 2014. They will also be without running back Toneil Carter and wide receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey, who were suspended for violating team rules. The HornSports staff give their predictions on how things will play out at NRG Stadium in the Big 12 vs. SEC matchup. Aaron Carrara Missouri has a potent offense and Texas has a really good defense that will be missing DeShon Elliot, defensive tackle Chris Nelson and most likely linebacker Malik Jefferson. Conversely, Texas has a relatively lackluster offense while Missouri boasts a defense that has played better and better as the season progressed. The Tigers are a slight favorite in this game (-1), but Tom Herman has been in the ears of his players since the end of the regular season. The program knows how important a bowl win would be on a variety of levels. A winning season would make all the difference to the fans, recruits and boosters. In my eyes, this is a must-win for Texas. which is why I think Buechele and the offense get the job done through the air and pull off the upset. Score Prediction: Texas 34, Missouri 31 Ross Labenske As Herman’s first season as coach of the Longhorns come to a close, eyes are on the Texas Bowl to see how this season draws to a close for the ‘Horns. Unfortunately, it might not end well as many players have declared for the draft (S DeShon Elliot, LT Connor Williams, CB Hilton Hill) and others have been benched due to violation of team rules (RB Toneil Carter, WR Lil’Jordan Humphrey, and TE Garrett Gray) have left Texas razor thin in positions they desperately need help in. All in all it may prove to be too much for Texas as they go against one of the nation’s hottest offenses in Mizzou. I predict the Longhorns losing their third straight game to end the year. Score Prediction: Missouri 35, Texas 17 Jameson McCausland The Longhorns have struggled to catch a break since their loss to Texas Tech the day after Thanksgiving. Connor Williams declared for the draft and will sit out the bowl game, Deshon Elliott did the same, Malik Jefferson was ruled doubtful with a toe injury, Chris Nelson dislocated his elbow, Lil Jordan Humphrey and Toneil Carter were suspended, and Chris Warren transferred. To say the Longhorns are not in a good spot heading into this game is putting it lightly. Missouri can put up points in bunches. Drew Locke is legit and he has guys at receiver that can absolutely fly. Their defense improved the second half of the season, but much of that had to do with who they were playing. Texas has to find a way to protect Shane Buechele and put together quality drives. If Texas starts slow, Missouri could be up 3 touchdowns in a hurry. I think the Longhorns will hang around for most the night. These players know they haven’t had the opportunity to play in a bowl game for some time, and they will play hard. Unfortunately, Missouri’s offense will just be too much to handle with what the Longhorns are missing on defense. Score Prediction: Missouri 31, Texas 21 Daniel Seahorn Given the amount of injuries and players electing to sit out of this matchup, I haven’t been feeling very optimistic about Texas’ chances since the bowl was announced. There’s two ways you can look at this. Mizzou is a team with a high octane offense that got hot down the home stretch of the year and looks dangerous heading into this matchup or they are a team who feasted on subpar opponents and got some easy wins after struggling against teams with a pulse. I can hear arguments either way on the Tigers from Columbia, but one thing I know for sure is that the Texas defense who will be down several guys like DeShon Elliott, Holton Hill, and likely Malik Jefferson will have their hands full slowing down Drew Lock and the Mizzou offense. The Texas offense that has struggled mightily all year will have to score points for Texas to even have a shot in this one and for them to end the season on the positive side of the ledger, but all things considered I’m not sure they will be able to manage that. I think the Tigers will come out on top down in Houston. Score Prediction: Missouri 35, Texas 24
  13. 247’s Chris Hummer touched on every FBS QB who is a potential transfer candidate. One of the players he highlighted was Texas QB Shane Buechele. Here’s what he had to say: “Shane Buechele, Texas – Easily one of the most interesting cases on this list, Buechele could be put in an odd position this offseason. Texas’ season-opening starter the last two years, Buechele’s played well when healthy. In 2017, he completed 65.8 percent of his passes, threw for 1.350 yards and went 3-2 during games in which he played the entire contest. Sounds pretty good for a sophomore quarterback with a spotty offensive line, right? Only problem is Buechele’s backup, Sam Ehlinger, carved out a starting role when Buechele was out with injury. Ehlinger is the better runner of the two and has shown the ability to take more of a beating than Buechele. Also, it doesn't hurt that Tom Herman loves Ehlinger. Those two quarterbacks will again compete in the spring. If Buechele wins the job, which is possible, this section is moot. But if Ehlinger wins, it’ll be interesting to see how Buechele handles things.” For the full article, here’s the link: https://247sports.com/Article/College-football-quarterbacks-with-big-transfer-decisions-in-2018-112556348 Aftet Ehlinger played most of the year, it’s eady to see why Buechele would think about leaving. A lot of things are in play in this decision. Texas needs to keep him in the fold. Otherwise, there will be a QB room with 1 sophomore, 2 freshmen, and no veterans. Not a good thing.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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+
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
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