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Texas Longhorns - West Virginia Mountaineers Post-Mortem: Horns Offense

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The Swoopes edition.

Erich Schlegel

Re-watching a game bleached of any emotion is always instructive.  Some of the things that you assumed kept happening over and over actually happened...twice.  And it makes you realize how much of the game you watch with a subtle bias.  I don't really have a particular narrative I'm looking to fulfill, but some of my assumptions were pretty much smashed and some bad gut feelings I've been reluctant to articulate started to grow.

I left this game really disappointed with where we are in our passing game and at QB. I don't think we're any closer to having a reasonable projection on our future at the position than after the UCLA game and I'm having real problems discerning where our perceived problems in the booth begin or end with Swoopes as the instrument of same behind a makeshift OL.  I keep reminding myself that a project like Swoopes should be a redshirt freshman right now buried for two more years before competing for a job as a RS Junior, but stupid recruiting, nepotism and Ash's injury means our best laid plans are led astray.

Scheme

Texas ran power and some zone read very effectively in the first half.  While our OL was far from perfect - they're a ragtag crew squeezing out what they can, they did a pretty good job of getting hats on WVU defenders and our RBs - Gray in particular - did an excellent job of maximizing runs.  That's the offensive story of the game. Beyond our first half running game, there were few bright spots.  All my worst fears from my preview came true in the passing game.

True freshman former LB Andrew Beck logged a number of snaps at TE along with Swaim, which should tell you about where we are the position where we once had 7-8 non-contributing bodies.

There's no way Bruce Chambers is on the football coaching staff next year.  It's just not happening.

QB

Swoopes was 7 of 25 for 70 yards and a silly interception after a 4 for 4 start.  Some general observations:

- He doesn't step into throws, still frights from the rush and doesn't seem to understand that an extra man blitzer means he must either dump it off quickly and test their tackling, or if he wants to hold on for a deeper look, he has to accept a hit.  And if he'll step up instead of fade back, the hit will be glancing at best.  If he were Peyton Manning, the 1.4 second window anticipation throws might work.  He's not.

- He's throwing way too early to a predetermined route.  I can tell you with 90% confidence he's not reading past the first option (or at all) on most of his pressured or anticipated pressure throws because his mind is already made up. He's releasing a prayer early instead of letting things develop and allowing our WRs to separate from their defender - particularly our shorter in/out combo routes or the late developing post - which has been open since the Iowa State game.

- He's really only comfortable throwing on simple naked boots to his right to a predetermined recipient or on 8-10 yard throws outside of the hash against off coverage.  He's actually kind of amazing at the latter.  But that's not an offensive staple.

- Either he has no clearance to audible in certain situations or he's not counting the box correctly.  We had run opportunities in the second half that we bypassed - all the more odd given our awful passing game execution.

- We're not progressing in complexity.  His performance suggests that his plate is stacked way too high.  I'm not sure how Watson gets more basic beyond just having him hand off and throw 7 yard stop routes.  UCLA game plan redux.

- When a team goes 0 coverage, you're in a high risk, high reward down.  When the blitz doesn't get there, you have a real chance for a single throw touchdown.  If you're releasing it way too early while falling backwards while in a clean pocket, your offense really has no chance.

- As the data points come in, it's clear that ISU has the least talented defense in the league and OU is overrated and arguably the worst coached (I've been calling out DC Mike Stoops since the Texas-OU game last year, their game plan against us this year was awful and the garbage they rolled out against Baylor was laughable).

- Tyrone's problems probably don't stem from a particular defensive style - they appear to stem from any coherent defense with a pulse.

WR/TE

They weren't on the same page as Swoopes and I don't know the ultimate culprit.  Some of their routes obviously didn't match Swoopes' anticipated throw.  Our deep options never punished single man coverage (either a bad throw, no separation or we lost a 50-50 ball), which isn't good, but on the re-watch I noticed opportunities elsewhere.  Swoopes was oblivious to them.

I love Swaim.  Great catch for a TD, such a gritty player.  Props to Andrew Beck for doing his freshman best.

OL

They played OK.  Just when I'd be ready to offer some definitive praise, I'd see something fairly absurd.  Everyone had a lowlight, everyone had a highlight.  There's no doubt these guys are trying their best - they just lack talent and/or experience and I don't think the QB position is rewarding them when they do deliver a clean pocket.  We need to get a lot stronger and more physical.  Some of our best holes actually came when WVU DL drove our OL backwards so far into the backfield that they effectively trapped themselves.

RB

Best game of the season by far.  Brown looked like the same guy but with more holes, but Gray flashed real ability in the open field suggesting that he may truly be back.  The ability to turn 8 into 40 is what we've been missing for some time and hopefully it can be repeated in Stillwater.

Overall

Are QBs made or born?  Swoopes wasn't really coached until this staff got on campus and I've never seen a rawer prospect.  This isn't a camp kid who has been getting private tutoring since 8th grade.  He's the anti-Applewhite.  He's basically a big strong guy with the ability to spin the football.  QBing is a lot more than that.  How many of the traits of QBing are teachable and moldable vs. innate?  Or - if both - where is Tyrone in each category?  And if the light finally comes on at age 23, does it really matter?  Strong or Watson will be seeking other employment by then.  Or is Swoopes equivalent to a true freshman David Ash - only one month of bowl prep away from growing immensely and positioning himself for a successful 2015?

The problem for this staff is that while it might raise performance across the board and re-stock our shockingly empty larders with solid athletes looking to maximize, it's not going to show up meaningfully in the W/L record until we get some basic level of QB play.

Right now, I'd be scouring the country for a 2nd QB to join Zach Gentry - preferably a JUCO or a one year Russell Wilson style graduate transfer.  Blind faith is inspiring, but I like to hedge bets.