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Texas-Baylor Post Mortem: Defense Special Teams

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We held Baylor to almost 200 yards below their season average and did a solid job of containment on Robert Griffin, but three plays on 3rd and long, extremely poor safety play, bad offense, and poor special teams allowed a 328 yard Baylor output to become 30 points.

Same song, different verse.

Sorry for the lack of humor - re-watching this stuff isn't much fun anymore. Go up and click on that link. You'll find it instructive.

I would have preferred Muschamp not blitz on some game-changing 3rd and longs, but it's not like he brought the house and pressuring an empty set is not unsound football. We had a safety in one-on-one coverage who did a poor job when isolated and a poor job when offering help over the top. TDs Baylor. If the DC absolutely can never do anything with a 30+ game starter at safety but protect him, then you need to re-evaluate the player. And do an intensive crash tutorial for Kenny V on how to call coverages. Or get Adrian Phillips in the game.

DL

Winning performances by Acho, Jones, and Randall. I'm saddened that a great Longhorn in all aspects in Sam Acho will be stained in our memory by this season - 10 tackles, 3 tfl, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 1 sack. What more can he do? He has come to play in every game and his effort is all over the TV screen. Thanks, Sam.

Disappointed in the play of our other DTs - most notably the Finley TD run where Baylor doubled Randall and the backside DT Higgins didn't do his duty. That created the running lane that put Finley off to the races as our LBs lost him in the chaff and our safeties took angles that mocked Euclid. Shades of Alabama. Ashton Dorsey is the only DT besides Kheeston that registered a tackle. I understand that Baylor attacks the edge, but to make so little game impact with Randall double teamed on 60% of their snaps doesn't cut it for me.

Containing Griffin in the pocket is no easy task and I was impressed to see us get some pressure while still respecting lanes. Griffin didn't hurt us with his feet, but the Finley run and his improved passing ability did the job for him. Our boys couldn't pin back their ears and rush, but they still constricted the pocket when Griffin didn't throw off of timing on a three step drop. Hats off to them for providing solid play all game. We didn't lose this game up front, despite whatever bullshit you may read elsewhere.

We held Baylor to 109 yards rushing with 69 allowed on one play that probably should have gone for 15. Tough deal.

LB

Keenan Robinson had his 2nd pick of the year and a gorgeous tackle for loss on Griffin one-on-one in space - big time plays - but he wasn't dominant otherwise. E Acho was clearly banged up and played like it but still managed 10 tackles. We couldn't use much Norton because Baylor was spreading us 4 and 5 wide and we needed to sit in nickel, if not dime. I thought we spied effectively and although I was disappointed to see our guys get swallowed up a couple of times in the run game, the replay showed a lot of solid football. Again - Baylor's offense came down to three plays. And the victim(s) (was) were the same each time.

DB

I wrote this in the Baylor preview last week:

Baylor attacks you in a lot of ways and the evolution of RGIII as a passer has allowed their offense to turn the corner from mildly threatening to dangerous. This is a wide open offense and much of their game plan will be focused on isolating and attacking our safeties.

I was wrong. It wasn't the focus of their game plan. It was their ENTIRE GAME PLAN.

In the run game (they frequently had their WRs always going after CBs and LBs instead of cutting off backside safety), in the passing game, in every formation. When they went five wide, you could clearly see RGIII identifying who had safety coverage and that played out in some of their 10 yard gains (those little drags across the field across formation) as much as their back breaking scores. Like Iowa State, Baylor avoided Curtis and Aaron Williams completely.

Except when they punted.

Two TD passes covering 89 combined yards is the story of the game.

Same 'ol, same 'ol with Chykie. He had his snaps limited though, which interested me. Perhaps Akina is fed up. Kenny V got some nickel looks.

I've written quite a bit about why Gideon and Scott are such a poor tandem, as neither helps the others deficiencies and neither creates much value against a talented spread team. At least Scott does offer some thumping potential in run support that Gideon generally only provides on receivers looking back at the QB in mid-stride or on his own teammates. Basically, any team that can spread us out with a mobile QB should be effective against us if they'll concentrate on picking on our safeties. The mobile QB component is key as it forces us to play contain in pass rush, we lose a LB in underneath coverage exposing our safeties, and we have to dial back on blitzes and exotics. For that reason, OSU may actually be less of a threat than the Aggies, despite being the better overall offense. Though I suspect both teams will focus their game plans in one area.

Once again, I thought Kenny V offered strong play, but his snaps will be coming at NICKEL now, not contesting the safety position.

Special Teams

I understand the difficulties that Curtis Brown faced coming into this game and I'm enormously sympathetic. Given his track record and his desire to make something happen, the coaches needed to consider if he should returning punts, sick child or not. This whole issue is a mystery and I don't understand why we can't coach the game here. The rules are really simple as a punt returner. Inside the 10, returns are forbidden unless you're Billy Cannon, don't field a punt over your shoulder like Willie Mays, and it's always preferable to line up too deep than too shallow. Minimal scouting would have told us that Epperson is an amazing punter.

Football 101, right?

Justin Tucker helped our coverage team with his leg and hang time. He's 18 of 22 on the year in field goals and perfect on extra points. 82% FG conversions works for me. Ideally, I wish he was more like 8 of 10. With a lot more TDs.

The incredible underachievement in our kick return games is a bizarre issue (115th in the nation in kick returns) and those hidden yards are robbing a very average football team of chances to win. Starting a few possessions on the 50 or a cheap TD to start the game is something we could badly use and to have these special teams units working actively against us is like eleven paddling backwards on a longship.

Coach them or throw them overboard.