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Harrison Wier

Five Thoughts: West Virginia

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Once again, Texas took a game down to the wire primarily because of poor defensive play. With :16 left in the game, Texas did the one thing that they knew could not happen; they let a West Virginia get to the second level and burn them deep. At this point last year, Texas fans were begging for a competent offense. This year, those same fans are now begging Todd Orlando to make any type of adjustment to make his defense look like less of an embarrassment. That has not happened yet. Unfortunately for Tom Herman, if his offense does not play perfect, it appears the Longhorns will be playing from behind because of the defense's lack of production. With that being said, here are some quick thoughts from the game:

Ehlinger continues to shine

One of the only bright spots from this game was Ehlinger's play. Ehlinger finished the game 25/36 passing for 354 yards and 4 total touchdowns. Some other bright spots that certainly helped the sophomore quarterback were Tre Watson and Lil'Jordan Humphrey. Humphrey specifically made 2 fantastic catches near the end zone on a 50/50 ball. Watson provided a solid running attack against the No. 2 rated defense in the Big 12. Ultimately, Ehlinger continues to show just how big of a jump he's made from his sophomore season. During the game today, Ehlinger set the Big 12 record for passes attempted without an interception. Ultimately, Ehlinger is only going to get better, and the Texas offense can't do much more than what they did today. Constantly having to pick up your defense is not a recipe for success.

Lack of defensive adjustments

Todd Orlando has primarily been given the benefit of the doubt this season, but it's time to make some criticisms about his personnel decisions. First and foremost, Orlando's decision to continually roll with a defensive front that generates hardly any pressure on the quarterback is highly questionable. On top of that, Orlando appears to have much more trust in his seniors than their play would indicate. Names are not going to be named, but there are several seniors in different position groups that have not improved since they've come to the 40 Acres. This has become blatantly obvious this season, yet Orlando continues to play these seniors that are clearly a weakness that is constantly attacked by opposing offenses. If the Texas defense is going to improve, some of these changes have to be made. Otherwise, opposing offenses like Texas Tech and Iowa State will continue exposing those weaknesses and putting pressure on the Texas offense.

Pass rush and injuries

If you are unable to generate a pass rush on Will Grier, good luck. Unfortunately for Texas, there was little to no pressure generated on Grier all afternoon. A large portion of the lack of pressure could be attributed to injuries on the Texas defensive line. Senior Breckyn Hager was ruled out for the game with a dislocated elbow, and second-string DE Marqez Bimage was ruled out with a dislocated shoulder. As a result, freshmen Keondre Coburn and Moro Ojomo were forced into action. Senior DE Charles Omenihu did not have a great night either, which led to plenty of time for Grier to pick apart the Texas secondary. Instead of trying to come up with different blitz schemes, Orlando appeared to stick with the rush of a three-man front, which was ineffective. BJ Foster, arguably the best blitzer on the Texas defense, was not seen much if at all today. These types of personnel decisions are hurting the Texas defense in a major way. Eventually, lack of execution has to come back to coaching. It's getting close to the time to look at the coaching on defense.

Big 12 officials strike again

I hate being the person to criticize officiating when there are so many other factors, but this had to be one of the poorest officiated games I've seen. To be fair, both teams received considerable breaks from the referees. For example Texas gained a huge advantage when Yodny Cajuste, starting LT for the Mountaineers, was disqualified for what the referees thought was a punch thrown. It ended up being a shove, and WVU was without its best offensive lineman for the rest of the game. On the contrary, West Virginia received some very favorable calls that ultimately ended up costing Texas. One of them came on a 4th and 1 attempt deep in West Virginia territory in which Sam Ehlinger appeared to convert on the keeper. After a review, the officials made a very questionable call that Ehlinger was short of the line to gain because his helmet came off, ruling the ball dead. The next questionable call came on another Ehlinger keeper in WVU territory. This time, Ehlinger appeared to have gotten the yardage for the first down by extending the ball past the line to gain when his knee was down. The play was not reviewed. As a result, Texas elected to kick the field goal and went up by 7 instead of potentially going up by 11.

It may seem silly to say this, but the Big 12's refusal to address its officiating problem could be a large reason why Texas ultimately elects to leave the conference. This officiating problem gets worse by the week, and other Big 12 teams have been just as negatively impacted by it as Texas has. It's certainly something to keep an eye on as conference realignment inches closer.

The chance to finish strong remains

Texas has now lost consecutive games by three points or less. The Longhorns are certainly in a much better place than they were a season ago, and the credit for that must go to Tom Herman. However, the Longhorns are still showing the lack of ability to finish games. With that being said, Texas is in dangerous territory. The Longhorns finish the season with a game in Lubbock against Texas Tech, a home game against Iowa State, and an away game against Kansas. The next two games will ultimately determine if Texas can go 9-3 or 7-5. If Tom Herman's squad dwells on the past couple of losses, they could easily show up flat in Lubbock and pay the price. Iowa State has a ver solid team this year, and Texas is in no place to look past the Cyclones. A 9-3 season would still exceed expectations for a team that opened the season with a loss to Maryland. Now is the time for this program to show how much they've progressed mentally under Tom Herman. Nothing will exhibit that more than how Texas performs in the final games of the season.

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A decade ago, we played Alabama for the national championship. As I watch the LSU-Bama game right now, you wonder if we will ever reach that level again. You could look at the glass-half-full approach and say, really, we're not that far away offensively. I'm not saying Sam is Tua. He is not, but Sam's progress from last season to this season has been incredible. The biggest difference lies in the trenches. Bama's line is elite. Ours is mediocre. Defensively, we are nowhere close, and this Bama defense is nowhere near as good as it has been. So how do we get better defensively? We really haven't been consistently elite defensively since Chizik/Muschamp. Was Orlando just the beneficiary of the kids Strong recruited last season? I think Herman's involvement with the offense is evident and the improvement is real. Defensively, we are a long, long way away. 

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8 minutes ago, North Texas Golfer said:

Good write up Harrison.

Despite all the negative nancies on this board and other boards, Texas is better than they have been in at least 5 years and is making progress. Not to mention that we getting really good play from the QB position. 

A lot of injuries tonight. Don’t get me wrong it was hideous on D but went to the 12th round in a shootout against an explosive offense. Damnit UT offense lookin legit. Can’t ever have both going great at the same time though 

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6 minutes ago, okiehorn said:

A lot of injuries tonight. Don’t get me wrong it was hideous on D but went to the 12th round in a shootout against an explosive offense. Damnit UT offense lookin legit. Can’t ever have both going great at the same time though 

Injuries definitely hurt. But things like allowing a receiver who is double covered to get past you with :16 left is coaching. 

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Some other thoughts:

- Anthony Cook will be very good. 

- Kris Boyd had a big bounce back game. 

- The Texas LB corps is the worst unit on the team. 

- Ehlinger had the first on that 3rd down run where Texas elected to kick a FG fo go up by 7. The play should have been reviewed. 

- Tre Watson is one of the MVP’s of the offense.

- Orlando has to do something with the three-man front. No pressure on Grier is very bad for any defense. 

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1 minute ago, Harrison Wier said:

Injuries definitely hurt. But things like allowing a receiver who is double covered to get past you with :16 left is coaching. 

Help me understand why that is coaching and simply not the players making a bad play. They sure weren't coached to let the receiver get behind them. The only way I see that the last play is on the coaches is if they put them in a wrong/bad defense for the game situation at that time.

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3 minutes ago, Harrison Wier said:

Some other thoughts:

- Anthony Cook will be very good. 

- Kris Boyd had a big bounce back game. 

- The Texas LB corps is the worst unit on the team. 

- Ehlinger had the first on that 3rd down run where Texas elected to kick a FG fo go up by 7. The play should have been reviewed. 

- Tre Watson is one of the MVP’s of the offense.

- Orlando has to do something with the three-man front. No pressure on Grier is very bad for any defense. 

Did you think Collin Johnson got the 1st down on the play before Sam's helmet came off?

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2 minutes ago, North Texas Golfer said:

Help me understand why that is coaching and simply not the players making a bad play. They sure weren't coached to let the receiver get behind them. The only way I see that the last play is on the coaches is if they put them in a wrong/bad defense for the game situation at that time.

I think if you’re in that situation, you make damn sure you tell your players not to get beat deep no matter what. He could have told them that, but it seemed like the receiver got by them pretty easily. At some point when your unit plays this bad, you’re responsible. 

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4 minutes ago, North Texas Golfer said:

Help me understand why that is coaching and simply not the players making a bad play. They sure weren't coached to let the receiver get behind them. The only way I see that the last play is on the coaches is if they put them in a wrong/bad defense for the game situation at that time.

Should have been bracket coverage, one on top and one underneath. But some how both guys got burned on that play...

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2 minutes ago, Harrison Wier said:

If Tech wins, it helps Texas. But it also makes me even more nervous for next week. 

My thoughts exactly. 

I am beginning to think that the infamous Roswell incident really happened in Lubbock. 

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3 minutes ago, HORNfromETX said:

I'd like to see more 4 down lineman. I think it would help get pressure on the QB and stop the run.

I truly think it’s a personnel issue. We just simply do not have the talent on defense. We look slow and lack team speed on that side of the ball. We really struggle containing the edge on sweeps. No one except Gary Johnson has speed along the front 7

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7 minutes ago, HORNfromETX said:

I'd like to see more 4 down lineman. I think it would help get pressure on the QB and stop the run.

I think it would definitely help in getting pressure on the QB. My problem is it seems like the DL doesn’t know what to do once they’re blocked. Once a block happens, they do little to get off of one. The running problems I see primarily as a LB issue. The LBs for whatever reason are also horrible at getting off blocks and staying in their gaps. 

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Just now, java said:

Harrison, do you know if Brandon Jones is supposed to be back next week. 

I sure hope so. They missed him today, even though he hasn’t been playing particularly well. Hopefully the re-aggravation of the sprain isn’t severe. We should know more soon. 

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Yep. He has saved a td or two. 

OU just went 3 and out coming out after half. 

Now they are saying Alan Bowman got hurt warming up after half (he’s out), and Tech also went 3 and out. 

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7 minutes ago, java said:

Yep. He has saved a td or two. 

OU just went 3 and out coming out after half. 

Now they are saying Alan Bowman got hurt warming up after half (he’s out), and Tech also went 3 and out. 

That’ll be one to watch. If he’s out next week, that helps Texas massively. 

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3 hours ago, Harrison Wier said:

It may seem silly to say this, but the Big 12's refusal to address its officiating problem could be a large reason why Texas ultimately elects to leave the conference. This officiating problem gets worse by the week, and other Big 12 teams have been just as negatively impacted by it as Texas has. It's certainly something to keep an eye on as conference realignment inches closer.

Let's pull a Notre Dame/BYU and be an independent. I saw several blown calls that went WVU's way and I'm sick of seeing bad officiating hurting Texas. I was at the game and haven't seen the replay yet but that call against Sam on 4th down appears to be BS.

On another note, Herman should have went for it on 4th and short instead of kicking a FG late in the game. I told the people I sit with that play may come back to bite us and well, it did. 

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