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2011 Texas-Rice Post Mortem: Offense

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Our OL didn't play all that well, the WRs had some drops, our QB didn't play at a high level...and we ended up with 506 yards of offense at 6.7 Yards Per Play and 34 points. With another two easy touchdowns left on the field with execution errors. I find it refreshing to watch an offense with a plan, diversity (scored on a WR reverse pass, three different guys ran wildcat, tons of motion and misdirection), creativity, roles for everyone, and drives that were thwarted by player execution errors rather than stupid concepts.

We basically manufactured 500+ yards of offense with smoke and mirrors until the running game took over late.

And if you're a regular BC and Recruitocosm reader, exactly nothing that happened in this game should have surprised you.

Before I tackle the breakdown, here are the things I'd rather do than watch a new offense go through some early growing pains with Texas fans online, despite painstakingly documenting all summer exactly how these growing pains would manifest themselves:

1. Attend a World Music Festival with Chastity Bono
2. Be repeatedly smashed in the face with a snow globe
3. Receive a cayenne pepper enema
4. Go to Disneyland handcuffed to a Goth Wicca
5. Watch Nancy Grace guest spot on The View on 24 hour loop

We were treated to such trenchant observations as:

"Same offense as last year!"

"I don't see any difference!"

"HA HA! GiGi sucks."

"Wow, is that Ash? I thought he was redshirting. Why would the coaches do this?"

"Why is Rice running the ball? I thought they were a spread team!"

"Brown should get 30 carries a game - the coaches are political!"

"Our defense is being destroyed - Rice may finish this game with 9 points and 224 yards!"

I actively loathe 20% of our fan base on game day.

But not you, Person-reading-this-now. You're awesome.

QB

Garrett Gilbert started the game in joyless robot mode - I now call it Garrett Gil-Bot - but began to trend human as he hit Mike Davis on two deep balls, scrambled for a first down, and shook off a potential sack while keeping his eyes downfield. 13 of 23 for 239 and 1 TD is a better stat line than anything he's had in his career, but he left a lot of easy yardage out on the field and he still looks like a one read QB. The 3rd quarter panic lateral to Fozzy Whittaker was of the distinctly WTF variety.

Garrett is clearly at his best in play action sitting in a clean pocket throwing downfield where he can survey, gather himself, and make a simple coverage read on a single route. We protected him with the running game and formational diversity and I expect that to continue.

Case McCoy demonstrated in two throws why he can't be our QB.

Hey, David Ash played! Who could have guessed? The coaches are getting him used to snaps in front of a crowd and managing to do so while face-saving for McCoy on the depth chart to prevent transfers, not throwing out Gilbert with the Davis bathwater just yet, and allowing a legit three deep. Basically, what we explained was happening weeks ago. If Gilbert falters, I look to Ash as the "surprise" successor, not McCoy. Unless there's a seniority Mack-ervention. Da Da Da Da Duh Duh! - dramatic organ music -

Gilbert's play was certainly more than adequate when looking at a stat sheet, but stats don't tell the qualitative story. He was 2 of 4 on deep balls to Mike Davis, but he missed an easy post touchdown, threw five bad balls that receivers had to rescue or didn't come up with and generally looked like a guy who was thinking through each progression rather than reacting. C level QBing with an A level game plan. Greg McElroy thinks it can work.

RB

Fozzy looked dynamic in the passing game (4-55-1, and we executed a screen pass correctly!) and running the wildcat in the red zone, Malcolm Brown showed vision and sophistication in a 217 pound frame acting as our finisher (16-86, all in second half), Bergeron showed some power and utility (6-26), and Donald Junior Monroe (5-41-8.2 per carry rushing) was used exactly the way Longhorn Scott said he would be. Loved Cody Johnson's effort in short yardage, too. We have a four headed running attack, the starter is irrelevant, that's exactly how it should be right now, and anyone who dislikes it doesn't understand our offense and has zero appreciation for what each guy brings to the table.

WR/TE

Love this young group though they did run a couple of bad routes and had some drops. I disdain lazy player comparisons, but Jaxon Shipley (2-54-1) is Jordan Shipley. The stop-start ability, the ability to move laterally without missing a beat, the weird stride that mesmerizes DBs, ungodly quickness, the ball skills. John Harris will earn more snaps just off of his blocking and reliability, but the reverse pass was pretty nifty. Mike Davis (3-115, catches of 56, 54) is clearly going to be our Titus Young and teams dumb enough to single him up will be repeatedly punished downfield. MD has sneaky speed and he has been doing this to people since high school. Nice to see Dominique Jones catch a ball and Darius White was fine, but needs to be a little more mindful in his route running.

OL

Really struggled in pass protection early (two sacks, several pressures), but solidified as the game progressed and trended towards dominating at the end. Effort was good. 229 yards rushing is evidence not just of individual progress but how simple scheme diversity allows players to operate at advantage. Tray Allen struggled a couple of times in pure pass protection situations and Dom Espinosa needs to stay on his blocks, but I think we all saw how clean the pocket was once the running game started clicking. This stuff is all reciprocal. This group will get better as the year progresses and I'll offer a more in-depth analysis once we play a very physical BYU Cougar defense. Underestimate this Cougar D at your peril.

Overall

The slow start was expected and the strong finish was a pleasant reward for our patience. The drive chart tells the tale - right around the mid 3rd quarter, the Longhorns figured it out and were going to score on every possession from then on.

FULL SCREEN VERSION

Animated Drive Chart brought to you by Gameday Depot.

Progress is made by leaps as much as incremental growth and this offense got better on Saturday. Our long term upside rests in our QB play, but presumably we all understood that some time in the Spring. The future for this offense is bright and defenses better get their shots in now while they're young.

Interested in your thoughts...