Week 10 - (L) UT 20 vs WVU 24

Quick intro/disclaimer: I'm not an aspiring writer or journalist, and am no more qualified to analyze football than your average Joe who played high school football in Texas. I'm literally "just another Longhorn fan", but I'd like to share my UT football opinions on a weekly basis with GIFs for a more pleasurable viewing. (If anything just scroll down to the GIFs and ignore everything I say.)

Apologies for not posting on the win at Texas Tech. I have excuses, but they smell bad, and I'm sure you don't want to hear them anyway. 

Week 10 - This is why you have to do your best to numb your emotions when Charlie Strong is your head coach (who knows how much longer that will be for). Just when there was a glimpse of 8-4 (maybe 9-4 with a bowl win), and thoughts of him actually turning it around, he loses another close game in frustrating fashion. On one hand, you can argue most of our losses were close and against decent to good teams, but on the other hand, most of our wins have been against teams with losing records, and only 2 were by a decent margin. 

Sure, West Virginia is a pretty good team, but we beat them in every meaningful category except the one that matters most - points. Out-gained them in yards, fewer penalty yards, and fewer turnovers. Still, 3 things came to mind when thinking about why we lost this game: blitz execution, personnel, and finishing drives

If you watched Houston shellack Louisville, you saw how great blitzing can totally change a game. Granted, Houston also got pressure without bringing extra men on occasion, but they were constantly confusing Louisville's O-line and had Lamar Jackson corralled and frustrated the entire game. (I think you know why I'm referencing Houston - how the next month plays out will be very interesting!) 

Blitz execution:
I said we won every team category that mattered except for points, but I lied, there were 2 others: sacks and QB hurries. WVU had 4 sacks and 3 hurries to our 2 sacks and 1 hurry. In a game that could have swung the other way on the last play, these stats matter, especially when 1 sack causes a fumble in the redzone.

Watch these two plays below. Almost identical plays by both teams in nearly similar situations. In fact, UT had a more favorable situation (3rd and 5 as opposed to 3rd and 9). These 2 plays had a huge impact on the game, especially Buechele's fumble. 

UT's unsuccessful blitz: Timing - look how slowly the LBs get started and get to the line of scrimmage compared to the WVU LBs on the next play (one caveat - Malik's injury was very significant.) Blitz pickup - WVU's RBs don't carry out the fake that well, but instead make sure to pick up the blitzers whereas Foreman carries out the fake and completely misses the WVU blitzer below. Safeties - our safeties don't anticipate the pass as well as WVU's safeties in the play below, which I think caused Buechele to hold on for a second too long (not that he had enough time anyway).

WVU's very successful blitz: They're already moving before the ball is snapped. The clapping signal is too easy to anticipate. It might not be Foreman's responsibility to have that blitzing LB - Perkins literally blocks nobody, so that is probably his responsibility. Regardless, we had enough guys, but there were 2 burnt orange jersey blocking nobody. Ugh.

We've seen it before, this offense puts up a lot of yards between the 20's and can't seem to finish at a high enough rate considering we have a crappy kicking game. I didn't hate the play call on the first drive. Buechele just missed a throw that he's made several times this year for a TD. Fine - I guess a true freshman QB is allowed to not be perfect. Still, frustrating to not finish a great drive with a TD. The poor time management at the end of the 1st half, and the unfortunate fumble on the blitz above are 2 more examples of gobbling up (<-- almost Thanksgiving, see what I did there!) a ton of yards, getting into the redzone and not scoring a TD. 6 points in 3 trips to the redzone will hurt you in a tight game, and it really was the deciding factor in this game.

Q1 - Buechele missed TD

Very obvious here, but throwing anything to Burt beyond a go route is assanine. Why throw to him? Shoot, we don't even need to throw go routes to him, see the plays below by Dorian Leonard, at least he can make a play on the ball. This is my only personnel qualm on the offensive side. CJ and Leonard should be on the outside at all times, and if they get tired, put Armanti out there.
Q3 - Burt's hands costing us:

Q3 - CJ's TD

Q4 - Leonard's first great catch. Nice body control, adjustment, and hands. No mas Burt por favor.

Q4 - Leonard great catch in traffic.

I had to throw the shovel pass to D'onta in here, because we don't do enough to get the ball into our best player's hands in the passing game. I'll miss him on Saturdays, but I'm going to enjoy watching him on Sundays next year.

Obviously, the injury to Malik was big. It forced us to mix in all the other linebackers, and personally, I think if healthy, it should be Malik on every play and Freeman on most plays. The Shark (McCulloch) has a little ways to go, and Wheeler just isn't cutting it for me anymore. I've already expressed how I thought Freeman is better in pass coverage and he should be in the game more, and here are near identical plays with vastly different outcomes with Wheeler and Freeman. That's my main personnel beef with the defense. While the coach staff can't account for Malik's injury, they were playing Wheeler/Shark on the last WVU scoring drive (see blitz above), and that's just frustrating.

Overall, our D played well and has improved from the start of the year, but unfortunately it wasn't enough. They did get put into some tough situations, and created a lot of turnovers, but we just couldn't turn TDs into field goals like their defense did to us. 

Q1 - Wheeler can't stay with slot WR. This might be a slightly tougher play than Freeman's below, but he's just too slow to run this coverage.

Q3 - Freeman with great coverage, which leads to one of Haines' INTs.

Q2 - Again, Wheeler is just too slow to have much impact in pass defense, and we ask our LBs to do a lot of it.

Here are a couple nice plays by Locke, who looks to be playing with more and more confidence each week. We were getting torched on screens at the beginning of the season, but this is a nice aggressive play by him.
Q1 - Locke blowing up a screen.

Q3 - Locke's INT - 2 things I love about this pick. 1 - he was beat on this same route earlier, so it shows his ability to adjust and improve during the game. 2 - great hands for a DB (maybe he should play WR before Burt?)

Week 8 - (W) UT 35 vs BU 34

Quick intro/disclaimer: I'm not an aspiring writer or journalist, and am no more qualified to analyze football than your average Joe who played high school football in Texas. I'm literally "just another Longhorn fan", but I'd like to share my UT football opinions on a weekly basis with GIFs for a more pleasurable viewing. (If anything just scroll down to the GIFs and ignore everything I say.)

Week 8 - And the roller coaster continues. It was great to beat Baylor and their inflated #8 ranking to give them their first loss of the season. Watching the Foreman bros torch the BU defense by themselves was great. It was also nice to see some pass breakups. But lets not get too carried away, Baylor's only quality win is a home win against Okie St. Me thinks they will lose 2-3 more games. Regardless, our team fought hard (except in run D) and held on to this one at the very end (don't get me started on the nullified Malik TD). 

We're 4-0 at home, and 0-4 anywhere else, so tomorrows game in Lubbock against a QB that could legitimately put 750 yds on us could be a decent measuring stick and really give us more vision into the future. Herman and U of H are looking down, and what if Charlie wins out, or even goes 7-5 and wins a bowl. I think the schedule is in Charlie's favor. I know I have already said I think he's gone at the end of the year, and I still think that's what is going to happen, but wins like these and the current crop of potential coaches keeps muddying the waters on what I want to happen. I think I just want it to be clear by end of season - 9-4 with a bowl win and he stays, or 5-7 and he's clearly out.

On to the game:


Again, the run game was off the charts, and I'm loving all the Foreman talk for Heisman. I thought the play calling and over all scheme was good, but I'm getting pretty tired of forcing Swoopes into the offense when the time doesn't call for it. He needs to be limited to the 18 wheeler package only in short yardage situations, and strictly those situations. Burt should only be in if he's getting a bomb thrown to him, and I'm fine if we don't even do that. Finally, can we add a few more wrinkles similar to the 2 passes to Beck that were successful. We're 8 games in to the season, our offense is very limited, and Buechele was here in the Spring. Is 2-3 wrinkles per week instead of what seems like 1 too much to ask? I guess you could say Swoopes at RB is a wrinkle, but I'm talking about new plays within our standard formations.

Speaking of Swoopes, the guy is not a tailback. Maybe he can eventually make an NFL roster as a TE or something, but the guy is not built for RB, and he was dancing as he got the hand-off every time.
(Q2 - Swoopes fumble. It was a fumble, we got lucky)

(Q2 - Johnson goes up and gets it. Finally, our 6'6" wr finally makes a play by using his height advantage. Hope to see more of it sooner rather than later.)

(Q2 - Foreman TD. Turns the corner on a DB, and doesn't even get touched. Awesome.)

(Q4 - Foreman long run. I'm gonna miss watching this burnt orange 250 lb beast run like a gazelle.)

I've complained about it before, but look at what happens when you throw it over the middle. I get there might be a little more to read on some plays over the middle, and there's the fear of Buechele throwing picks, but this just has to be a bigger part of the offense than once a game.
(Q4 - Joe slant over the middle.)

(Q4 - Foreman sideline catch. Armanti may not go up and snag it with his hands, but his body control and spacial awareness is great on these deep throws down the sidelines. Watching him make these grabs just makes that drop against KSU that much more maddening.)


So our pass D actually played better, nice. But, we (and by we, I mean Haines) made Seth Russell look like Ezekiel Elliott. Giving up 400 yds on the ground is just ridiculous. This team just continues to tackle poorly and take bad angles. I admire Haines effort, but the guy just doesn't have the natural talent - the other guys, they need to play smarter/more aggressive. It's going to be very interesting watching us against Tech's O in Lubbock.

These next two plays were very interesting to me. The exact same play twice in a row except on different drives as the first one was an INT. First play - great coverage by Boyd and what an athletic play by Locke (more on him later). Second play - kudos to the BU coaching staff for seeing how easily the inside wr runs by Wheeler at the top of the screen. He does it again on the second play, and its an easy pitch and catch for 45 yds. I used to think Wheeler > Freeman, but lately I'm starting to think the opposite and would like to see Malik/Freeman out there together. 
(Q1 - Boyd breakup, and Locke INT)

(Q1 - First play next drive. Same play, different result.)

(Q1 - Great PBU by Locke. Maybe this will build some confidence and will carry over. We can only hope.)

This happens at every level, but when corners don't look back for the ball, the result is almost always worse than when they do. In addition to being beat badly and busted coverages, our corners have not done a great job of looking back at the ball all year (and really last year too), and it is so maddening. Bonney (of all people) looks back at the last second and is able to make a play on the ball. On the second play below, Holton Hill (who's confidence is shot), does NOT look back and is unable to make a play on the ball - result, TD.

By the way, the argument for not looking back is that you might lose a step when turning around or lose where the wr is. CBs are taught to look back when the wr looks back, and use their hands/arms to feel where the wr is. It's not easy, and occasionally looking back will result in the CB getting beat, but so many worse things can happen if you don't look back: A. Virtually impossible to intercept the ball if you're not looking. B. Much more likely to get PI on an under thrown ball. C. Much harder to time deflecting the ball, and being able to adjust to it.

(Q2 - Bonney looks back last second and deflects the ball.)

(Q2 - Hill doesn't look back, and the wr makes the grab right over his shoulder for a TD.)

Week 7 - (L) UT 21 at KSU 24

Quick intro/disclaimer: I'm not an aspiring writer or journalist, and am no more qualified to analyze football than your average Joe who played high school football in Texas. I'm literally "just another Longhorn fan", but I'd like to share my UT football opinions on a weekly basis with GIFs for a more pleasurable viewing. (If anything just scroll down to the GIFs and ignore everything I say.)

Week 7 - I guess it doesn't matter who's coaching, because winning in Manhattan is just something UT doesn't like to do. Mack Brown was 1-4 in Manhattan, and Charlie Strong is now 0-2, and that's how Charlie's record will end. That was the nail in the coffin, or 2nd or 3rd nail depending on your opinion. I personally think his invitation to leave was post-dated a few weeks ago.

I think at this point we're all a little numb and indifferent about what happens with this team moving forward this season. Sure, you always want to root for your team and you're excited when they win. But, saying it's an understatement that our expectations have been tempered is an understatement. (Apologies for getting all meta on you.) At any rate, these players (excluding seniors and probably Foreman) aren't leaving with Charlie, so we'd like to see some improved play and especially confidence from them.

So KSU's average team beat our average team in a very average game. Re-watching it was as boring and frustrating as watching it the first time, but here are a few of my thoughts with GIFs.

The O
The offense has definitely cooled down recently, and watching the same 4 plays over and over is less entertaining when you can't convert a 3rd down and struggle to finish drives. Think about it, we run a variation of 4 plays: run between the tackle, outside wr screen, wr stop (outside the hashes), wr go (outside the hashes). Maybe I'm being greedy, because watching Gilbert's offense over last year's turd-fense is so much easier on the eyes, but we're constantly leaving some meat on the bone with some of our unfinished drives and 3rd down play calls. Undecided if I'll miss Gilbert or not, but leaning towards probably not as I'm sure we'll have a similar offense next year with whoever we bring in.

Lack of variety
Obviously I'm being facetious about the 4 plays, but here are the ONLY 3 pass plays that were not thrown outside the hashes, and 2 of them were caught on the hash mark. Worst of all, the first one didn't come until there was 6 min left in the game.

(Q4 - Stop to Oliver)

(Q4 - Middle screen to Foreman. Nice design with the C getting out in front. Why not throw more to Foreman? He's soooo good!)

(Q4 - TD to Leonard. Again, barely on the hash. I guess he redeems himself here, but that 4th down drop on the slant was killer.)

RT's abused all day
It was a combination of Nickelson/Hodges average talent and #75 Jordan Willis supreme talent. Not surprisingly, he made the Hendricks pre-season watch list (award for the best DE). While both RT's fared rather poorly against 75, I thought Hodges played better, and I've said before that I think he's the better player. I know he had some injury issues earlier this season, but I would really like to see him out there as much as possible. Nickelson is playing more, and it's pretty frustrating to watch. See below:

(Q2 - Nickelson, 1st "ugh" play)

(Q2 - Nickelson, 2nd "ugh" play. There were several more, but for brevity sake I'm just showing 2.)

(Q4 - Hodges. Actually not as bad as Nickelson, and you can argue Buechele needs to step up in the pocket. Still, #75 making plays left and right.)

The D
More of the same - missed tackles, bad angles, poor to average coverage. While the ultimate responsibility still falls on Charlie, it seems the effort/confidence just isn't there with some of these guys - they've even said as much. I think a few of the things that really frustrated me in this game were the early jumps offsides, how easy it was for KSU to convert 3rd downs with passes, and the lack of pass rush lane discipline.

The questions I posed last week was if our D had made improvements or turned the corner. Considering they moved through our D like a hot knife through butter, I think we know the answer. Mind you, we also got bailed out by the goal line fumble and KSU not going for it on 4th and 2 in our half of the field when they most surely could have easily gotten it.

Here are a couple of there TDs if you need reminding.

(Q1 - Ertz 1st TD run. Hager has the QB on this play while the LB has the RB. He should have forced Ertz to pitch, but surprise, Hager is undisciplined and lets Ertz walk in.)

(Q2 - Ertz 2nd TD run. I don't think it's a draw, but the FB/RG get up field to block pretty quickly. Wheeler's terrible angle and Bonney's bad effort at tackling make this 19 yd run up the middle by the QB look especially easy. I think Freeman might have taken Wheeler's spot after this game - not sure it matters too much though.)

Week 6 - (W) UT 27 vs ISU 6

Quick intro/disclaimer: I'm not an aspiring writer or journalist, and am no more qualified to analyze football than your average Joe who played high school football in Texas. I'm literally "just another Longhorn fan", but I'd like to share my UT football opinions on a weekly basis with GIFs for a more pleasurable viewing. (If anything just scroll down to the GIFs and ignore everything I say.)

Week 6 - Sorry for not posting about OU and being late with these last few posts. Ok, enough about me. The Iowa State game felt like we were in the "Upside Down" (Stranger Things reference in case you haven't watched it yet). What I mean is the defense consistently did its job while the O didn't get firing on all cylinders until the 2nd half. Who expected a 6-3 half time score? I know I didn't. 

I think the question going in to tomorrow's game against K State is - is the D figuring it out/turning it around, or was the ISU performance fool's gold? Iowa St did put up 42 and 31 in back-to-back weeks against Baylor and at Okie Light, respectively, so that's some evidence toward the former. However, we've watched this defense give up too many yards and too many points to assume everything is peaches after one game.

Before I get into the GIFS, here are my thoughts for that question:
Figuring it out/Turning it around
- Boyd and Bonney at CB: I really don't think either are that great at man cover, but they're both aggressive and tackle well. Our other corners hadn't been covering or tackling, so at least these guys bring something to the table. As long as our DBs can keep from busting coverages (poor coverage is one thing, but no easy rides to the endzone please), tackle well, and attack screen plays, our D will look much better.
- Pass rush: 8 sacks, niiiice! Better than the total amount of sacks was the amount of sacks/pressure we got with a 4 man pass rush (this also helps the DBs). Hughes played one of his best games in a while, and Omenihu/Roach/Hager continued to bring it off the edges. The interior d-lineman also got great push up the middle on pass plays, which we hadn't seen a lot of.
- Less rotating: The starters at LB and CB played pretty much the entire time until the game was out of reach. I realize the DB situation hasn't been solidified, but the LBs should never have been rotating unless they were absolutely gassed, so thankfully, we saw less of it this last game.

Fools gold
- Average competition: While ISU did put up points on Baylor and OSU, it really appeared as if they shot themselves in the foot quite a bit. I saw a handful of wrong routes run, which led to the QB holding the ball and a sack. There were also a handful of errant throws, and what seemed like mixed signals on the pass blocking scheme. It did appear like we were beating them across the board, but they definitely made it easier on us.
- Missed opportunities: Not nearly as many missed tackles as we have seen in recent weeks, but a few uninspiring plays from some of our top players (Malik missed sack below) doesn't reassure that we've turned the corner. Finally, and no surprise here - we lost the turnover battle, ugh.

Kris Boyd playing aggressive. Yes, he gets too many dumb penalties, but at least he's not playing scared.
(Q1 - Boyd pass break up in the redzone. Sure, a better WR would have held on, but at least he was there.)

(Q1 - Boyd big hit. Well timed even if he didn't wrap up.)

(Q2 - Boyd recognizes the screen and avoids the block, something our other CBs can't seem to do on screens.)

Pass rush.
(Q2 - Hughes flying by the RT for the sack. Awesome by him, but that RT looked like Sheroid Evans trying to make a tackle.)

(Q1 - 2 true freshman in on the sack. Hager starts it against that awful RT, but hey, the future is bright!)

(Q1 - Elliott with the clutch stop inside the 5. Stands his ground and makes the tackle. His injury will hurt us, but at least he has 3 more years.)

(Q2 - Malik missed sack. How Malik doesn't bring him down here is beyond me. He must be better, that's not Big Ben or Cam Newton.)

Offense. A couple TDs from the O to get excited for tomorrow. Hopefully we see this in the first half.
(Q3 - Duvernay TD. Watch Buechele look left and take the safety to the single WR side. They're playing Cover 3, and the single CB got caught in a situation that our CBs have got caught in several times - 1 guy trying to cover 2 guys. Looking left by Buechele also ensures the CB goes with the outside WR on the post. Great call, throw, and catch.)

(Q3 - Foreman TD run. Love how a RB that big forces a safety to take such a bad angle with his speed. We've yet to see him catch many passes out of the backfield, but he reminds of me of the Cardinals' David Johnson - great feet and speed for a big back.) 

Week 4 - (L) UT 31 at OSU 49

Quick intro/disclaimer: I'm not an aspiring writer or journalist, and am no more qualified to analyze football than your average Joe who played high school football in Texas. I'm literally "just another Longhorn fan", but I'd like to share my UT football opinions on a weekly basis with GIFs for a more pleasurable viewing. (If anything just scroll down to the GIFs and ignore everything I say.)

Week 4 - ... (<-- That's me at a loss for words). By this point you've read or heard so much about when, not if, Charlie will be fired, and the likelihood of getting Tom Herman from Houston. I'm going to refrain from getting caught up in that conversation (at least on this blog) as that debate is likely to be settled within the next several weeks if not days.

Being that I'm at a loss for words, I'm going to keep my writing (otherwise known as gibberish) short on this post. There's really nothing new to share. Defense was BAD - two weeks to prepare, and we looked even worse than we did against Cal. Watching our PAT unit was as uncomfortable as watching Michael on The Office for the first time. Offense still put up a ton of yards, but maybe finishing drives a little better and not starting series with Swoopes and bringing in Boo-shell on 3rd down to throw a pick (same thing that happened at ND) wouldn't hurt. 

Since we're not winning the national championship this year, maybe we can still beat OU, who still sucks. Surprisingly, Charlie has had good game plans/execution against OU (though he can't say the same for Iowa St. - weird.) So let's root on our Horns against OU tomorrow and let the future take care of itself.

Here are gifs with thoughts from OSU:

- Linebacker play - not just the secondary, was unimpressive, and that includes Malik. I really think Wheeler had one of his worst games.

(Q3 - Wheeler is near side LB. Unless that's a poorly timed/executed blitz, Wheeler guesses on this play, and completely takes himself out of it.)

(Q1 - Malik is playing two-hand touch when everyone else is playing tackle (kidding, most of our secondary also played two-hand touch last Saturday). That wasn't Lamar Jackson that shook him.)

(Q1 - Wheeler with the great effort again. Vaccaro's effort was even worse.)

- Scheme and Def. play calling - We must be tipping our hand too easily on what type of defense we're playing, because every time we had a zone called, it seemed like OSU called the perfect play. It doesn't help that our players haven't executed any type of zone defense well this season. If we're not going to stop running zones, we need to do a better job of disguising it. Charlie took over this week for Bedford (finally), but we'll see if it's a change for the better, or more of the same very soon.

(TD Pass against zone - great call/execution by OSU. Not surprising that we were out-coached on this side of the ball)

(TD pass after hurry up - defense unprepared. I'm not sure if this is a busted coverage, or OSU dictating our coverage with hurry up (not allowing a defensive play call), and picking the right play against it. It looks like both players are playing zone, but maybe the Safety should be in the middle third and not shaded toward the single wr side. Regardless, there needs to be better preparation on coverage scheme for uptempo/hurry up plays like this.)

- Personnel - No more Sheroid Evans! Please! Great story, and I'm sure he's a good kid, but the guy tackles like Deion Sanders and covers like the exact opposite. This week's released depth chat shows he won't be starting, but he really shouldn't see the field at all anymore. I also don't love how much we rotate our secondary/linebackers in general. Defensive line is where rotating players is needed, but at the other spots, the best players need to be playing as much as possible.

(Q2 - Evan's playing 8-9 yds off, not breaking on the play, and getting stiff-armed to the ground)

(Q1 - Evans scared to tackle on the TD pass. Should have been tackled at the 37.)

(Q1 - Boyd being aggressive on the screen. I know Boyd has his own issues and he should be behind Hill and Davis, but seeing a little nastiness from our corners is much needed.)

 - There's hope (hopefully?) - Yeah we did some good things, and we have players that can make plays, so here are some UT highlights to get excited about OU, and to keep this from being an OSU blog. OU SUCKS!

(Q1 - Hall's first sack. Crushes the RB and makes the sack on the blitz. I really like him near the line - not as much 15 yards off of it.)

(Q1 - Leonard with the nice hands catch and turn for a near TD. Give me a step or two slower than Burt, but better hands.)

(Q3 - Foreman TD because big dudes with breakaway speed are awesome and I love him, and so do you.)