Texas opened the game dominating on offense - our first three drives went field goal, touchdown, touchdown (the two touchdowns were both 80 yard drives). After that, KSU adjusted to our single track game plan and Texas went scoreless (and largely first down-less) on their next 8 drives until Tyroneausarus peeled the sun roof off of the Nissan Pathfinder and started eating paleontologists. If only he'd gotten Jeff Goldblum for butchering Chaos Theory.
Weather conditions and Heard's discomfort with shot putting a waterlogged oddly shaped piece of leather in a Bangladeshi monsoon contributed to a risk-averse (and comprehensible) game plan that saw Longhorn rushers amass 274 yards at over 5 yards per carry pounding the ball against the Big 12's best rush defense (whatever that means) while Heard chipped in 99 yards of passing game (mostly on three inch throws to Daje Johnson). The persistent humidity served a depleted KSU team well and likely kept the game a tad closer than it would have been if the Longhorns could have had a fair crack at an injured and oft-abused Wildcat secondary.
Texas won ugly. When your record is 2-4, any win is gorgeous.
The Role Players
I usually start my write-ups with the glamor positions, but let's eschew mascara and bangles and headline Caleb Bluiett, Andrew Beck, Alex De La Torre and the wide receiver blocking. I wrote about the importance of role player buy-in during the bye week - particularly for the upperclassmen - if the Longhorns are going to have any hope of a winning season and guys like #42 and DLT came up big. Caleb brings a level of aggression and anger that fuels the offense and his ability to catch a ball when he's ignored makes him just dangerous enough as a pass catcher to warrant defensive respect. Similarly, DLT, while a limited role player, repeatedly contributed good lead blocks and physicality in the running game. Like #42, he's always looking for work, loves contact and in today's spread era, that mentality has value when basketball-on-grass defenders have to deal with a 260 pound lunatic trying to put a headgear through their sternum.
All hail the role players. You can't win without them.
Jerrod Heard had 12 of his 15 carries in the first half (he had 61 yards total) and I think the lack of work in the second half was purposeful. In the first half, Heard converted a number of 3rd downs when everyone in the aquarium knew what was coming and he still managed to keep Texas drives alive. Heard's inability to throw in poor conditions isn't particularly alarming unless you project us to the Big Ten or Calcutta in the next couple of years. He's going to see plenty of passing game work against Iowa State and I don't know that our passing game is regressing so much as it's flawed and game flow and context didn't give us any insight as to whether it has improved over the last two weeks. Heard's still a bit shaky on the whole when-can-I-just-chunk-this-away? piece of QBing, but freshmen gonna freshmen.
Tyroneausarus loomed large on Saturday and fed on the exhausted KSU defense like they were a brontosaurus calf with dropsy. The coaches finally put a modified Swoopes power package in on normal downs and were rewarded with a crucial game closing drive where Swoopes carried the ball 3 consecutive times for the following gains: 13, 29, 10. 3 carries. 52 yards. Touchdown. Game over. Most importantly, I got to scream I told you so to no one in particular. Swoopes totaled 3 touchdowns on the day and he was one better thrown ball to Andrew Beck away from adding a neat 25 yard passing gain to his Saturday resume.
Running Swoopes on normal downs and expanding his package within that construct (more play action wrinkles) makes a lot of sense. Let's continue to do it.
Johnathan Gray banged out 103 yards on 18 carries and his 46 yard scamper was a great example of a RB decisively committing to his blocking. Gray's best game in recent memory was largely attributable to good blocking, but a scant 3 yards of negative yardage in 18 carries is a testament to the fact that he wasn't messing around. I noticed we're really not using him on outside zone anymore and I think that's by design. He has basically become a zone read dive back.
Foreman had 10 carries for 43 yards and appears to have a wobbled wheel. We'll see what that means for Ames. He ran fine except for a run he tried to pop outside where he needed to bury his head and get a one yard gain instead of a three yard loss.
Early game dominance was replaced with...considerably less dominance....as KSU began to overplay the run, but given the larger game context, they did OK. We're continuing to see these guys carve out a physical identity. KSU's front four is legit and our OL held their own. Kent Perkins' return was huge and I expect he'll play even better against the Cyclones. I even saw Sedrick Flowers pull effectively on a power play - including one humorous highlight where he wrapped up a KSU defender like a mummy and the ref gave him a pass for Halloween spirit.
KSU DT Travis Britz gave our interior OL some trouble in the second half (he had four tackles for loss) and Vahe gave up quick interior pressure on a line stunt to a KSU DE, but this OL, while obviously deeply flawed, doesn't resemble the one that took the field against Notre Dame in South Bend. Tip your hat to Joe Wickline and the players. ISU can tell us if we're ever going to solve the interior pressure issue that's killing our passing game.
Daje Johnson held on to the ball in tough conditions and was one slip away from housing a long touchdown on a fly sweep, John Burt continued to demonstrate a very un-freshman and un-wide receiver dedication to blocking and the rest of the crew soldiered on despite conditions and a game plan that wouldn't reward them with the one thing they covet above all - the rock. They'll get it in Ames.
The Texas offense started strong and finished strong and that whole middle part was...not strong. Don't care. Won game where fans arrived by canoe.