One Step Forward, Two Steps Back…The Story of Texas Football since 2014 - NinosCorner™ Sports | Efficient Sports Analytics...Successful, Relevant Data

Saturday, November 25, 2017

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back…The Story of Texas Football since 2014

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back…The Story of Texas Football since 2014
By B.R. Battle
Photo:  John Gutierrez - USA Today Sports

What in the world happened to this Texas team, just one week after a convincing win against a 7-3 West Virginia team still vying for an opportunity to play in the Big XII championship game.  Texas’ first drive resulted in an easy 4-play touchdown, followed by a 7 play Longhorn defensive stand that led to a Texas Tech punt.  My next thoughts were that Texas would continue on the same path as their first drive and put more points on this Tech defense.  Boy was I wrong.  The Longhorn’s next 4 drives all resulted in punts due to a lack of an offensive identity.  

How did the Longhorn’s fare this past week?  Offensively, Texas posted an abysmal 33% offensive Success Rate (SR).  As stated before, this team has absolutely no offensive identity.  It seems as though Tom Herman and company are just trying to see what plays will work on any given drive, instead of crafting creative ways of reusing similar plays that were successful early in the game. This philosophy became evident when the Longhorns moved the ball to the Texas Tech 1 yard line on two separate occasions, only to end up with a field goal both times.  In order to win games in the Big XII, you cannot trade field goals with touchdowns.  If you do, you might just end up with a 6-6 record….
Speaking on a 6-6 record, Texas moved to that mark after the loss on Friday night.  The loss to Texas Tech completely shifted the momentum of the season.  Texas could easily be 7-5 after last night; however, the 2 late interceptions by Sam Ehlinger assured another 6 game win or less season for 4 years straight.  Sam has to eliminate these costly mistakes.  I love his moxie and “guts” when playing the game, but Ehlinger’s “gun slinger” mentality is what cost Texas this game last night.  The late turnovers will be a hard and tough lesson for the young man.  Sometimes, you have to live to play another down.  On 2 separate occasions in the 4th quarter, Sam needed to adhere to that principle.  He’s young and will get there, but last night’s performance was a sting to the Longhorn fanbase.  

In regards to Ehlinger, he started the game off extremely well, contributing to all 4 plays on the 1st drive that eventually led resulting to a 27 yard touchdown pass to Armanti Foreman.  I thought to myself that maybe the offense was finally figured out.  As the game progressed, Ehlinger was called upon to continuously be Superman, when in actuality, he only needed to be Clark Kent on a vast majority of the remaining drives.  Of the 56 total offensive plays that involved Ehlinger, he was successful on 22 of them, resulting in a below NCAA success rate average of 39%.  Of that success rate, Ehlinger posted a 70% rushing SR and a 34% passing SR.  His ability to improvise with his feet give him an outstanding chance to excel in the run game; however, he needs to increase his passing SR to truly become a special player.  
The defense success rate of 58% was outstanding again; however, while watching the game, it felt as if the Longhorns caught plenty of breaks.  For starters, if Texas Tech’s year-long starting quarterback played the entire game, I honestly believe this game would have been over sooner.  Tech’s quarterback, Nic Shimonek, carved up the Texas defense for 2 touchdowns when he entered the game in the 4th quarter.  The game starter, MacLane Carter, continually overthrew and under threw receivers all night.  There was an apparent difference when Shimonek played.  The Tech offense just moved so much more freely with him at the helm.  
Additionally, the Texas defense allowed far too many explosive plays of 15 yards or more to the Red Raiders.  The Longhorns allowed 10 explosive plays at an average of 29.5 yards per play.  On critical downs within the game, Texas gave up way too many yards.  On a 3rd and 10, the defense gave up 17 yards…on a 3rd and 9 play, the Longhorns gave up 22 yards.   These instances cannot happen a championship level defense.  

Battle’s Break Down:

- The Texas team played this game as if they knew they were the better team and expected to win with minimal effort.  This falls on the coaches and senior leaders…especially considering Friday night’s game was Senior night.  These guys should have been focused to win this game…but they weren’t.  

- Texas cannot continue to ask their true freshman quarterback to pass the ball nearly 50 times and expect to win.  A running game needs to be established.  

- Speaking of a running game, Daniel Young rushed for 55 yards at over 4.2 yards/carry.  He needs the ball more.  

- Armanti Foreman showed up big-time.  One can only wonder what his season would have been like if he actually played in the games.  

- Malik “the Freak” Jefferson is all over the field.  I love watching the kid play.

- Gary Johnson is a freakish athlete.  It’s a shame we might not see a complete season of him and Malik as the Longhorn’s starting linebackers for an entire season.

- Design Elliott might end up being the Thorpe Award winner, but I can’t believe he dropped that interception.  Hey…you can’t get them all.

- Oh how this team misses Holton Hill.  The secondary went from being a strength of the team, to allowing 2 receivers to tally 14 receptions for 295 yards and a touchdown.  

- The Longhorn run defense remains stout….allowing 62 yards on 34 rushes.  

- Kyle Porter seems like a really nice kid and hard worker; however, he has no business being on the field if Young or Carter are available.  

- Dickson…well, he’s the best punter in college football.  I know I say this every week.

- Connor Williams might have cost himself some money this season.  His film against Maryland and USC were not great at all.  He dominated West Virginia, but had drive killing penalties against Texas Tech.  He also got beat on more than one occasion against the Red Raiders.  

Well, we’ll see what bowl game Texas gets.  Hopefully the extra practices will be beneficial for this team. 

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