Here We Go Again….A Tale of 2 Football Teams - NinosCorner Sports | Efficient Sports Analytics...Successful, Relevant Data

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Here We Go Again….A Tale of 2 Football Teams

Here We Go Again….A Tale of 2 Football Teams
by: B.R. Battle
Photo: Michael Thomas, AP

First off, I want to preface this write up by stating that I had to attend my best friend’s wedding in New Orleans this past Saturday.  The wedding started at 2PM CST and I was able to seethe first half of the game prior to leaving the hotel for the wedding ceremony.  Thank the man upstairs for satellite radio because I was able to hear the 3rd quarter on the way to the wedding.  The Longhorns were taking it to the #10 team in the country.  I was excited, but also pre-cautious of what the outcome could be.  As the wedding starts, the 4th quarter of the game begins.  To keep from looking at my phone, I had to turn it off.  Thirty minutes later, the wedding is over and I immediately turn my phone back on.  I sign into my Playstation Vue account and see that Texas and Oklahoma St are heading into overtime.  After Oklahoma St gets their field goal on the first overtime drive, Texas receives an opportunity to counter.  After a few plays, the Longhorns find themselves at 3rd and 4 from the 6 yard line.  I remember telling the other groomsmen that Texas is going to win this game…just watch.  And then the unexplainable interception happens.  Was I upset?   Yes, but I at least had Bourbon Street to satisfy me until I kept seeing all these University of South Florida fans partying.  Well, as I’m devastated at another blown Texas opportunity to win a game against a national top 10 opponent, USF just beat Tulane to remain undefeated.  Yes, the same USF led by our recently fired coach, Charlie Strong.  Talk about depressing….

Although this was, yet another tough loss for the Longhorns, there were many positives to take away from this game.  

- First off, this Texas defense is legit.  As Texas running back Chris Warren stated after the game, this defense was good enough to beat anyone in the country on Saturday.  In the Big XII, teams are still going to be able to gain yards, as evident with Oklahoma St gaining 428 yards of total offense.  However, great defenses are judged by the lack of opportunities the opposing team has to reach the red zone, as well as how well the defense performs while in the red zone.  Oklahoma St reached the red zone only 4 times, scoring  only 10 points, during the initial 4 quarters of regulation.  Let me remind you that Oklahoma St is the #1 scoring offense in the country, averaging more than 48 points per game.  Even in the overtime period, the defense was huge in only allowing Oklahoma St to a field goal.  This was an unreal defensive performance.  

-  The Longhorn defense yielded a success rate (SR) of 50%, which is 5% above the NCAA average.  This is a really good SR, especially considering the defense was on the field for 88 plays.  They held the nation’s #1 offense to only 7 explosive plays….5 less than their per game average for the year.  The stat that really stood out to me was Texas’ success rate on 3rd down.  In our metrics, a successful defensive 3rd down is any that does not yield a first down.  The Longhorns were above the NCAA defensive SR average in all 4 quarters during regulation, peaking at 100% in the 3rd quarter.  Check the chart below to see the SR per quarter results.  
- The defense did their part in attempting to finally secure a win for Texas in a must needed statement game.  The offense, on the other hand, was not very good at all.  The Texas offense tallied an overall success rate of 36%, a mere 4% lower than the NCAA average. Another discouraging fact of the game was that Texas' SR decreased per down.  The 1st down SR was 46%, followed by a 35% 2nd down SR and a 18% SR on 3rd down.  What does this metric suggest?  Well, it states that the Longhorns continually placed themselves in unfavorable 3rd down situations, resulting in 11 punts throughout the game. 
- The Longhorn offense lost every meaningful category to Oklahoma St.  Texas lost the offense success rate battle to the tune of 36% to Oklahoma St's 42%.  Texas had 5 explosive plays of 15 yards or more, compared to the Cowboy's 7.  As pedestrian as Oklahoma St was in regards to offensive success rates per down, Texas was worse (See chart below).  
- The Texas offense lives and dies by Sam Ehlinger.  Saturday was definitely not his best game. Although Mason Rudolph had a bad game himself, Sam was worse.  The Longhorn defense held Rudolph to just a 25% run SR and a 45% pass SR, totaling to a 43% overall SR.  Ehlinger might have edged out Rudolph in his run game SR o 46%; however his passing SR was 33% and his total overall SR was a mere 37%.  

Below are some quick-hitter observations from the game:  

- If Holton Hill is not an All-American by this season’s end, I will be truly surprised.  As I stated in the pre-game analysis, if Hill wants to be a great player, he has to go against and compete will against other greats.  Hill shadowed the conference’s best and nation’s #2 receiver (yardage wise) for the majority of the game, limiting James Washington to 4 catches for 32 yards.  Not only did Hill provide outstanding coverage throughout the game, he also was as sure of a tackler as anyone else on the team, tallying 9 tackles (8 solo).  

- Malik Jefferson was an absolute man-child on the field Saturday.  Enjoy him now because I can’t imagine a situation in which he stays in college for his senior year.

- Kris Boyd….what a way to bounce back.  He also had an outstanding game.  

- Poona Ford probably had the defensive play of the game with his forced fumble in the red zone.  

- More Breckyn Hager and Gary Johnson please.  Hager just has a knack for getting to the quarterback.  He needs to see the field more, especially since this team has a hard time putting pressure on the QB with only its down linemen.  As for Gary Johnson, he just looks so natural and comfortable next to Malik Jefferson.  This pairing should continue for the remainder of the season.  Johnson and Jefferson both have the necessary sideline-to-sideline speed suitable to contain Big XII offenses.  

- Sam Ehlinger cannot be the ONLY offense that this team has.  Tom Herman and Tim Beck have to find out more creative ways to get their playmakers involved...

- Speaking of playmakers, where was Lil'Jordan Humphrey during this game?  Why has Armanti Foreman not been seen in 3 games?  No Collin Johnson, LJH, or Armanti Foreman on the last play of the game in overtime is mind boggling...

- Chris Warren III rips a 15 yard run at the start of the 4th quarter and Tim Beck calls 3 consecutive pass plays that all ended as incompletions....why?  I've stated this time and time before, Warren will wear down a tired defense in the 4th quarter.  That play might have been the start to that process; however, we'll never know.  

- Offensive line....well....how often can we use the excuse that their young?  

On to the next week...see you in Baylor...Hook Em  \m/

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