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.)