HornsCorner: Why Todd Orlando Failed... - NinosCorner™ Sports | Efficient Sports Analytics...Successful, Relevant Data

Monday, December 2, 2019

HornsCorner: Why Todd Orlando Failed...

Why Todd Orlando Failed...
by Nicholas "NinosCorner" Battle
Sunday afternoon, Texas Head Coach Tom Herman fired his longterm defensive coordinator Todd Orlando after the Longhorns finished 8th in the Big XII and 108th in the country in total defense, respectfully.  This move came as a bit of a shock to many Texas fans due to Orlando being coupled with Herman since 2015, Herman's first year as a college football head coach.  Additionally, Orlando's defense somewhat shored itself up the last four games of the season; however, the unit did not truly stop anyone.  Instead, it functioned in more of a "bend but don't break" model.

How did Orlando get to this position in which he was fired just after three years as the Longhorn defensive coordinator?  In 2016, the year prior to Herman becoming the Texas head coach, the Longhorns finished as the #94 defense in the country.  When Orlando was assigned to the unit and took over as its defensive coordinator in 2017, Texas moved up 53 spots, settling into the #41 defense in the country in 2017.  Fans, as well as school officials, were ecstatic with the vast improvement of Orlando's unit, prompting the university to give Orlando a raise to $1.7 million in order to keep him from leaving Texas in lieu of a potential head coaching job.

The 2018 season should have brought about many red flags in regards to Orlando's unit, as Texas regressed defensively throughout the season, finishing as the #67 defense in the country.  The Longhorn defense looked lost throughout the whole season, and then Georgia happened.  The Texas defense thoroughly dominated the Georgia offense and was more physical than the SEC's second best team.  Fans forgave Orlando for the bad season and thought that he had finally got his unit back on track.  Not only was the Georgia game fool's gold, it proved that the Texas defense was exactly what we thought it was...a consistently inconsistent unit.

How did Texas finish 108 of 130 eligible college football defenses?  I think I might have a plausible answer for Longhorn fans.  Orlando failed this season because of the amount of explosive plays his unit allowed on a weekly basis.  In the Longhorns 5 losses, Texas allowed nearly 10 explosive plays of 15 yards or more, in each contest.  For a team as loaded with talent as Texas, this is completely inexcusable and a complete reflection of lack of player development by the defensive staff.
To expand upon the explosive play issues, in the loss to LSU, the Longhorns allowed a 22.39% explosive play rate, accounting for 383 explosive play yards and over 67% of the Tigers total offensive output.  Additionally, LSU's explosive plays averaged 25.5 yards/play, an abysmal number for any defensive unit across the country.  Against Oklahoma, Texas allowed a 19.05% explosive play rate, resulting in 323 explosive play yards at nearly 64% of the Sooner's total yards and just shy of 27 yards per explosive play.  For the season, the Texas defense allowed 101 explosive plays for 2,699 yards, resulting in 52% of their total yards allowed coming from explosive plays, at nearly 27 yards per explosive play.  This should not happen at a school like Texas.
On a per down basis, the Texas defense allowed the greatest percentage of explosive plays on the coveted "money down" aka 3rd down, in 7 of their 12 contests.  This metric shows a lack of in-game adjustments, directly attritable to a lack of preparation of the Longhorn defensive staff.

What's Next?
Now that Texas is without a defensive coordinator, the national search for a top-tier replacement for Orlando will begin immediately.  Many names have been mentioned; however, we will have to wait to see how this candidate search transpires.  Let's just hope that whoever gets the job will be able to shore up this defense on a continuous basis.

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