Before the game, I wrote in my KSU Keys column that 3rd down conversions would tell me all I'd need to know about the scoreboard. KSU has been inordinately good on 3rd down and we've been inordinately bad (yes, on defense too).
Texas: 4 of 13
KSU: 9 of 17
Since we're focusing on
a lack of offense, let's limit commentary to that side of the ball.
52 plays, 196 yards. Those are terrible numbers, but they actually felt worse in real time. Our longest play from scrimmage was a 21 yard throw to Marcus Johnson. KSU's defense would have felt more threatened if we'd worn clown make-up and rode tricycles into the stadium.
Around this time last year, I wrote that lesser opponents had clearly shown the game plan required to beat the Texas offense - jam to deny wheel routes, deny inside the hash and easy single reads outside, let him self--pressure and self-sack - and render a Case McCoy led team inept. Even with a veteran OL and decent skill players. 2013 TCU and OU chose to ignore it, but the other teams that implemented the approach found themselves rewarded with pick sixes and their best relative defensive performances of the year.
KSU may have just shown the best way to play an makeshift Texas OL and a green Texas QB who is more comfortable reading man coverage or easy single reads on the move than a confusing array of tiered defenders staring at him, demanding smart reads and breaking on his stare downs. Throw in an OL that couldn't pass protect in the first half at all against a previously tepid KSU four man rush and you've got the game plan for facing Texas. Zone. Contain. Cover. Rinse. Repeat.
Until Swoopes shows any ability to read coverages without the defender's back to him, the OL demonstrates the ability to handle a vanilla pass rush and establish some kind of running game to get the KSU safeties out of punt return formation and our receivers help out by settling into the holes in the zone and making catches - this will be ugly.
That sounds like a lot. But it's not. It's a pretty basic part of any functional offense. Zone busting ain't rocket science.
Either we progress (the OL should get better - Swoopes is the offensive nucleus) or realistically face the possibility of an
even more disastrous season.
I've written at least 100+ postmortems. I rarely mention the officials and I generally hate people that whine about them, but these guys had an established narrative of how this game should go and they made sure to write it at every opportunity. I don't believe they decided the game, but they sure kept a game from ever breaking out. Spots were inept bordering on fanciful, the one-sidedness (or lack) of penalties was odd when it was clear to everyone that Brown, Ridge and Reed were all a handful (of jersey in a KSU's OL hands) for their OL and the breaks never did quite even out.
It felt like a basketball game when the refs get a hard-on early for the visiting team and they never relent on trying to ingratiate themselves to the crowd and favored coach. We just don't see that much in football.
Can't remotely pin the loss on it - KSU is a much better football team and it's not debatable - but that felt like a crew trying to preserve a late cover.
We actually had some decent run blocking for stretches, but poor reads by Swoopes in the zone read limited overall effectiveness and our running back's penchant for hitting turf when fingers brush across a thigh pad limited our upside for a game breaking run that might have forced KSU out of their passive, almost mechanical zone coverages.
The first half breakdowns in pass protection were atrocious. They all came against four man rushes and KSU's front has little baseline pass rushing ability outside of Mueller. This was a lack of cohesion and inexperience. We got better after halftime and mostly held up well, but by that time the game was over.
The brief glimpse of Foreman powering through glancing blows effortlessly on successive runs is all I needed to confirm that I'm not an insane person on the issue of our RBs. Foreman paid me back by flipping a ball to Shipley that should have been handed off - and fuuuumble. The vast array of ways this teams beats itself is impressive. Based on what I could see on my television screen, Shipley was going to run through a lot of green.
If only... The motto of the 2014 Longhorns.
More or less irrelevant given Tyrone's struggles to read and our OL's protection issues early. They took some time to adjust to KSU's zone gaps, but they did settle in eventually. A couple of drops, but they never really had a chance to show their wares. This group should be pretty good against zone - the disconnect was disconcerting.
Tyrone was 13 of 25 for 106 yards. Baylor numbers. As bad as it gets. He took a bad sack that cost points, threw into triple coverage and looked completely mystified on half of his drop backs. KSU gave him a quiz and he hadn't done the reading or the material was just way too hard. I'm not sure he spelled his name correctly on the Scantron. Young QB growth or innate deficiency? Time will tell. Most disappointing was that Tyrone's poor reads bled into the running game on zone read. He left some 10-15 yard runs on the table, including a potential TD. I'd seen real progress on his reads against OU and ISU - it was hard to watch the regression. I can assure you KSU was not complicating the picture - their DE was declaring right at the snap. Young QBs never have a straight line of progress and the graph looks a lot different after OU and ISU.
There are plenty of good reasons for the garbage - and we probably don't need to recount them in every post for anyone rational - but before we fire everyone burn the campus to the ground, it's truly unclear to me what the coaching solutions are when the OL exhibits as much cohesiveness as a dog and cat rally against simple line stunts from a four man rush, our RBs are just guys and somehow turn it over on a simple reverse handoff and the QB position looks at seven man layered zone coverage and thinks to himself: "Is that even legal?"
We know what KSU does. We weren't prepared to beat it. At any level.
Stop me if you've seen this before.