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Texas-Missouri Football Post-Mortem: Defense/Special Teams

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The Longhorn defense put up a good effort with little support from the offense, but the first half had some moments as disappointing as the second half was dominating.

Missouri had three long drives in the first half: an ultimately fruitless opening drive of 7 plays for 68 yards (thwarted by Acho's forced fumble, Tigers were keyed by a pass to TE Egnew for 30); a 9 play, 83 yard scoring drive set up by a nice 40 yard throw to TJ Moe; and a 4 play 69 yard drive created by the bullshit targeting Vaccaro form tackle personal foul which created 1st and 10 on our 35 instead of 4th down at midfield. While we were feeling sorry for ourselves, Lawrence popped his 35 yard touchdown run in which he didn't get touched.

Basically, Missouri's offensive output was determined by 3 big plays between 30-40 yards and a penalty. We only turned them over once, but we held them well under their season averages in all phases, completely controlled their offense in the 2nd half (they ran 39 plays for 93 yards with three possessions starting on our side of the field), and held them to a field goal on 1st and goal on our 1 after a blocked punt. Needless to say, it was an effort that should have been good enough to win.

We clearly set out to take away Franklin's legs and make him feel the load of carrying the offense and we were pretty successful. The starch certainly went out of him after a big option hit from Jeffcoat and a Vaccaro fire zone pop. Props to Franklin for playing through pain. As a byproduct, we did give up some passes early, but it's hard to argue with the overall philosophy.

DL

Mizzou's OL is a team strength and they did pretty well against them.

Mizzou's run game takes interior DL out of the game unless they can penetrate and get a tackle for loss and it asks them to run a lot laterally. Consequently, we played a lot of bodies at DT to encourage them to pursue and get a push on passing plays and I was largely happy with their play. Fun to see Chris Whaley make a play or two in every game now. He's really taking to DT and has a nice upside.

Okafor and Jeffcoat played well again, though Okafor will wish he had the 35 yard Lawrence run back. I think he was supposed to thread that option and may have lined up incorrectly to boot. Still, our starting DEs combined for 18 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, and they each notched a sack. Good pursuit, they got better at dealing with the Missouri running game as the game progressed, and though they weren't able to pass rush full on for containment purposes, they pressured adequately. Missouri puts a ton of pressure on opposing DEs. Okafor and Jeffcoat were up to the task.

LB

Arguably Acho's best game as a Longhorn. He stuffed the stat sheet (12 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 2 pass break ups, 1 forced fumble), made big plays, and covered well. I'm sure his teammates drew energy from his effort and it's clear our defense took the halftime instruction that they'd need to win the game pretty seriously. Keenan Robinson went out with a broken thumb. After that, we played Hicks predominantly in a nickel, but I like what I saw from Edmond in goal line and traditional sets. I hope we see him more against Kansas State. He's not a sprinter, but his instincts and natural pop are what you need facing Collin Fucking Klein, He Of Giant Balls And Indestructible Constitution.

DB

I thought Vaccaro played a great game. He hurt Franklin on a clean hit on a blitz, made several tackles in run support, and erased his man when he manned up. The facemask penalty is part of playing football as was the targeting deal. We struggled passing receivers off in zone concepts early (Phillips to Scott) and once we cleaned that up, our performance was a lot better. I didn't think Gideon played particularly well, but for errors of omission than commission. Some of our blitzes are used to force a very specific throw from the QB. When the QB makes that anticipated throw and you don't play the probable outlet beyond trying to make the tackle or you take a bad angle, it's a missed opportunity for a big play.

As expected, Missouri largely avoided Byndom and Diggs was really enthusiastic in run support and tightened up in coverage over the course of the game. He doesn't really give up much separation - most of the completions on him are good throws to taller athletes. Hard to complain about our CB play this year.

Overall, these guys had a lot to account for balancing Missouri's option game vs pass coverage responsibilities and Missouri's passing game was better than anticipated early (Franklin was 10 of his first 10, 8 of 16 once he cooled down). They kept big plays down after the pass plays to Egnew and Moe and by the second half they were dialed in and in charge. Good prep for KSU.

Special Teams

We swapped punts blocks (they outscored us 3-2 on that exchange), the return games basically cancelled each other out, and Justin Tucker had one particularly bad punt. Losing Fozzy really hurt Kick Retuns.

Overall

The defense has played three straight weeks of pretty good football. Over the last three games, we're giving up 12.3 points per game and the run defense has improved considerably since the Oklahoma St game. Missouri was a useful preparation for Kansas State and though Bill Snyder is a mad genius living in a haunted grain silo and is slicing up our film and likely releasing a dry cackle from the cobwebs in his throat, the elevated play of our DEs and our ability to clean up some things in the run game gives me some confidence if our offense can get healthy and put up some production.

I'd just like to see it done earlier and a little more cleanly.