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Texas-TCU Football Postmortem: Offense

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Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

Losing RT Kent Perkins was going to hurt us no matter how you slice it but we didn't settle into any real semblance of an actual game plan until the game was already out of hand.  TCU's defense, while well-coached and smart is quite vulnerable, but we showed little ability to make them pay for their issues.

I'm not sure what the five yard comeback sprint pass (a hard throw to execute and the upside is.....5 yards?) or the 2 WRs vs. 3 DBs lead screen is supposed to do to the TCU defense, but it got us a Daje Johnson concussion and our first five possessions went for a total of one yard while accumulating a safety and a fumble.  We put in a nice little counter draw wrinkle, but that's about all I have nice to say about our game plan or execution.

It turns out you can run on TCU.  In fact, every team in the league should be able to run on TCU, but we game planned our way out of it early and our offensive linemen and wide receivers came up small in the passing game.  When we did mount nice drives using the running game, we stalled out with shabby pass protection and ended up with a pair of botched field goals.

OL

They did a good job in the running game against an honest TCU front and we had a number of runs that would have gone for big yardage if we had any studs toting the rock.  Their pass blocking performance was uneven bordering on horrid, with tons of mental errors, poor effort plays and general silliness that put Texas behind the 8 ball early.  I don't think Norvell did us any favors with his early playcalling, but he probably didn't expect to be down 23-0 in the 1st quarter either.  It's also nice if you don't allow untouched linebackers sprinting through your A gap.

In the 2nd quarter (12:19 mark) Marcus Hutchins gave up a pressure on Heard where his effort level was so bad, it made me wonder if he was experiencing some sort of paralysis.  A nail in the coffin on 3rd and 9.  I don't understand why a high effort/low talent guy has gone low effort/low talent, but this senior malaise can be found on both sides of the ball.

This was one of many plays singlehandedly doomed by an OL allowing a purple defender to run through them like Tikka Masala through my colon.  Elijah Rodriguez and Tristan Nickelson replaced Hutchins after that play and I'm intrigued by Rodriguez's potential down the road based on what I saw from him.

Senior center Taylor Doyle gave up a wide open shot on Heard on a delayed blitz that caused a fumble early, had a bad snap on a 2nd and 3 that instantly put us into 3rd and 9 and put another hit on Heard and then drew a snap infraction on another 3rd and 9, dooming that series.  My final viewing of his afternoon was allowing two more untouched pressures up the middle on the same exact delay blitz that TCU got the Heard fumble on.  Flowers had a couple of decent run blocks but he and Doyle played together inside as if they'd just met at kickoff.

Connor Williams had another good game on balance.  He and Heard are by far our best players on offense.  Vahe battled well in the running game but struggled with TCU defenders using spin moves on passing downs.

Overall, Patterson scouted and schooled us beautifully and everything TCU did was well-tuned to not just our fairly limited playcalling sheet but our personnel deficiencies.

RB

Johnathan Gray is the worst starting Texas RB I can personally recall.  If you can do worse, I'm open to your submission.  He was so bad in key short yardage situations that Spielman called him out on national television.  I feel bad for him but it's getting difficult for me to watch.

D'onta Foreman provided a spark with 114 yards rushing, but on review, he actually just evidenced basic FBS running abilities - running where the play is blocked, not allowing a stray finger to drop you, actually running to daylight - that sort of thing.  We've been so deprived of running sustenance, our fanbase thinks a Hungry Man dinner is foie gras. Foreman was certainly effective and I'm always impressed by his abilities out of the backfield as a pass catcher.

WR

They flashed open a few times, but either dropped the ball, ran a stupid route, or Heard found himself running for his life and he couldn't deliver his best ball.  Armanti Foreman dropped an easy touchdown pass and another long gainer down the sideline. Daje was curtains early.  Marcus Johnson and John Burt were non-factors.  Lorenzo Joe got some action late and cashed in with a touchdown.

We have physically gifted receivers.  None of them are skilled receivers.  There's a difference.

QB

I wrote QB last because our play here was so dependent on the supporting cast on the field and on the sideline. Heard was under constant pressure, his receivers let him down on multiple big play balls, our OC overthought the early game plan and Heard certainly had his freshman moments against Patterson's numbers game.  I'm not discouraged by what I saw from Jerrod and I think his teammates owe him a soda.  Heard's terrible statline of 8 of 20 for 48 yards passing speaks more to the dysfunction of the offense than his own play.  Swoopes came on in relief and played well against TCU back-ups.

Memo to the staff: no one has stopped our Swoopes short yardage set yet.  Why don't you run it in some other situations that aren't short yardage?  Like, when we're really struggling and we need some stabilizing catalyst and a little R&R for the D?  Like against a team that can't defend that well against the run?  And why is Johnathan Gray ever touching the ball on 3rd or 4th and short or the red zone?

Overall

I had modest expectations with Perkins out and we managed to come nowhere near that.