414 – 340: A Statistical Look At The Texas Longhorns

If total yards from scrimmage determined wins and losses, Tech would have won soundly on Saturday.

The Red Raiders outgained Texas 414 to 340. This early in the season, it's difficult to tell what those numbers mean. Tech's other opponents have been pathetic, and thus the Raiders' stats in the previous two games offer no useful context for comparison. But perhaps we can extract some insight from other comparisons and analysis.

The Texas Offense

The Horns scored 34 on Tech, but the special teams contributed 7. The offense accounted for 27 points, which is exactly what the offense provided last season in Lubbock in its statistically worst game of the season.

Our scoring drives amounted to 33, 66, 47, 19 and 49 yards each. Texas had 4 drives that started from behind their 30 yard line, and didn't score on a single one of those drives. So, field position made a big difference. That may seem obvious, but in last season's Tech game, the Horns scored 2 touchdowns and a field goal - half of their total scores - in the seven drives that started from behind the Texas 30. In the other seven drives, Texas also scored 2 touchdowns and a field goal. So, whereas in last year's Tech game, field position was entirely neutral in terms of predicting the expected outcome of a Texas drive, it proved decisive this season. Against Wyoming, Texas managed to only score once in the six drives that started from inside the 30 (although the Horns did manage two 70-yard TD drives). There's too little data to conclude anything from these observations, but I don't think it is unreasonable to be slightly worried about the Horns' inability to put together long, sustained drives from poor field position.

Finally, as mentioned above, the Horns managed only 340 yards of total offense. That output is far less than any of last season's efforts. In 2008, Texas failed to gain 400+ yards only once, against Tech (374). In fact, you'd have to go back to the disastrous 2006 A&M2007 KSU game to find a more impotent showing by the Texas O. So, at home in a revenge game against an unranked team with an tradition of fielding sieve-like defenses, the #2 Longhorns' high-powered offense somehow managed to play their worst game in 2 seasons. Not good.

The Defense

The Horns' D gave up 414 yards and 24 points to Tech. That's the lowest point total Texas has allowed to the Red Raiders since 2005, and least yardage allowed since 2004. The defense yielded fewer yards on Saturday than last year's D gave up to OU (435), Ok. State (416), and Tech (579). Tech's yardage is about what UTEP racked up against us last season (412 yards). So there's an argument that our showing against Tech represents an improvement over last year's defensive performances against top offenses. But it certainly wasn't in line with what we did against Mizzou in Austin.

It is also worth noting that 233 of Tech's yards were amassed on Tech's three longest drives, each of which culminated in a touchdown. Tech gained an average of 16.5 yards over the other 11 drives, the longest being a 64-yard FG drive to begin the game. No other Tech drive was longer than 24 yards. Basically, 72% of Tech's yards were gained on four (of 14) possessions; on two or three of these possessions, Texas was running an umbrella-style prevent defense. So, while that observation certainly doesn't erase the Tech touchdowns, it hopefully provides a useful study for our coaching staff going forward.

The D also won the turnover battle, causing five fumbles, recovering two and causing an interception that set up a short 19-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.

Special Teams

I usually don't pay much attention to special teams, but they played an important role in the game. Obviously, Shipley's punt return was huge. Also, while our kickoff coverage wasn't dominant, it also wasn't disastrous. Tech did not start a single drive in Texas territory. Hunter Lawrence also went 2-for-2 on FGs.

Summary

This is a game the Horns easily could have lost. Tech outgained Texas by 74 yards, but a punt return and key interception proved decisive. Our defense was dominant until we shifted strategies late in the game, at which point it became utterly ineffective at stopping the pirate onslaught. Something's wrong with the offense. I'll leave the discussion of the reasons why to the X's and O's analysts, but there's no doubt based on the statistics that this offense is not playing well enough to beat quality opponents without significant help from the defense and special teams.

Thoughts?

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