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Texas-ISU Postmortem: Offense

Well, that was frightening.

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

I could envision a loss to ISU, but it looked something like a 31-28 shootout with wild swings of momentum and dumb turnovers or mistakes killing our chances for victory.  I can't say a 24-0 old school ass kicking where our staff got taken to school like they were first graders was anticipated in my game outcomes.

The Texas offense turned in a performance that made me misty-eyed for the heady days of Shawn Watson.  OK, not quite, but that was absolutely horrendous.  The Cyclones have only five or six sentient life forms on defense and they crushed us simply by playing hard and implementing some basic rules from film study.  A primitive Longhorn passing game and offensive game plan guaranteed the shutout.


Jay Norvell has publicly lobbied for retention as the Longhorn OC and I've repeatedly counseled caution despite some promising early returns.  A game like tonight is a good illustration of why.  The Longhorns abandoned the QB lead running game that served us so well against OU and KSU, showed regression in every basic concept of the passing game and we saw the same mistakes that characterize our play at every position.   We didn't do anything to exploit ISU's injured, subpar secondary and the play calls that weren't sabotaged by player error were more scaled down than Heard's first start against Cal.  Were we sandbagging for...Kansas?

There is no place where poor teaching, bad execution and mindless play combine more obviously than in our outside WR screen game.  It was there for us by simple formation for most of the game.  We got nothing out of it.  The ball doesn't get out quickly or accurately enough, it's not thrown to the proper shoulder - so the receiver has already sacrificed momentum or has to twist or elevate to catch it, the receiver doesn't set up properly and we don't understand the geometry of the play, the blockers blow their assignment routinely (Andrew Beck) and the guy who catches it doesn't even understand where the defensive help is coming or where the play is blocked to go.  This is a concept most 5A Texas High School teams can execute.


The Doyle-Flowers Blunder Twin Powers combination has been discussed here so much that I might just start writing SAME SHIT, DIFFERENT SATURDAY.  Knowing that our QB will be sacked or pressured by any sentient defensive being who wants to run between Flowers and Doyle on 20% of passing downs is a bit of a crimp to the offense and the most amazing thing is that it keeps happening over and over and for the same exact reasons.  Do they need couples counseling?  Why are they incapable of basic communication?  Why do they keep turning their shoulders when they're not engaged and allowing a late stunting T/E stunt or delayed LB to sprint through?  The House Flowers crest is a guy jogging behind a free defender with the motto LOOK OUT stenciled in silver.

Flowers surrendered an early drive killing sack when he turned his shoulders and allowed an clear path to a twisting DE.  At the end of the first half, on a crucial 3rd and 5 near our endzone, Flowers and Doyle allowed #97 Tucker to sprint right between them to pressure Heard into an incompletion and near interception.  ISU was rushing 3 on that play.  We punted, ISU scored.  They got destroyed heads up on running plays a couple of times as well, putting us into 2nd and 13 and 2nd and 11, respectively.  The coaches eventually benched Flowers for not competing, but the game was already over at 17-0.

For what it's worth, Vahe, Perkins and Williams had several more than acceptable plays, but they were good swimmers surrounded by clingy drowning men.


Gray ran for exactly what it was blocked for per usual, Warren only had two carries to show his wares and D'onta Foreman got his first carry near the middle of the 3rd quarter.  He's less than 100% and I guess the coaches threw him in because why not?


Our passing game is so remedial, they're basically irrelevant.  We were running streak routes on 3rd and short against off coverage and we ran a couple of man beaters against zone.  On several passing downs in the second half, we ran a max protection scheme with only three men on routes covered by eight ISU defenders.  We only attempted 3 downfield passes during meaningful game action.


Jerrod Heard made poor decisions, was left aimlessly drifting to the sideline by covered wide receivers or early pressure, had no answers for 8 men in coverage when our receivers were running non-routes and should have had three interceptions instead of 1.  He was even running tentatively.  Tyrone Swoopes came in to run the Tyroneasaurus package on normal downs in the late second quarter, was very effective, so we immediately shitcanned it for the rest of the game after a three yard loss when Swoopes unwisely tried to bounce it outside instead of take four yards.

Swoopes was later inserted for an ineffective Heard and he missed Daje Johnson for what would have been a wide open walk-in touchdown.  In Ames, our offensive coaches and players were engaged in a mutual game of sabotage.

Defenses have now compiled film on Heard, understand his weaknesses (and those of our personnel and scheme) and our coaches haven't done anything to adjust to those adjustments.  While I'm sympathetic and am aware of our limitations, that's on Norvell and his offensive staff.  If we can't progress past the postage stamp play sheet - or at least execute it really well with some built-in counters (speaking of, our actual delay counter was also absent from the game plan) this offense will turn in more stinkers.


Our problems on offense are multifactorial and that won't change without steep upgrades in talent, improvement by graduation, better teaching, experience, progressing Heard and hiring an offensive coordinator in the offseason.