I'm not interested in having the refs bleed into every discussion. Penalties will be discussed insofar as they impacted game flow and took Longhorn points off of the board or crippled drives, but I'm not interested in sidebars from idiots with poor reading comprehension or "helpful" Texas fans spilling garbage into the common areas. Do it, banned.
The offense started promisingly, featuring decent protection for Heard and a great wrinkle in the short yardage SwoopesDozer offense, but an early trade of 3s for 6s in the red zone hurt Texas. After Kent Perkins went out and Jerrod Heard made a number of youthful mistakes, combined with an endless onslaught of penalties, the Horns were doomed from running any sort of aggressive offense. Before Perkins went out, Texas gave up 2 sacks. Afterwards, they gave up 5. Heard certainly also extended plays he would have been much better cutting his losses on.
The Texas staff did a solid job for three quarters given their constraints and also did a nice job of manufacturing offensive opportunities with Swoopes. Norvell had a great call on the lateral touchdown pass from Marcus Johnson to John Burt that was called back. I also liked the install of some old school Syracuse style freeze option. Had Perkins remained in the game, it looked to me like we also had some more deep shot posts being set up to Burt and Johnson. Sadly, Perk didn't and Heard couldn't find time to breathe.
My main issue with the offensive coaches is with our possessions in the 4th quarter. Specifically two key possessions at 10:15 and 5:53. Backed up in our own end of the field (UT 19 and 11, respectively) with our RT getting slaughtered on every play and Heard making poor decisions, this was a prime opportunity to run the Swoopes power set against an OSU defense that had not yet shown any answers for it and would be playing non-goalline personnel until they could substitute correctly. Running that counter lead with Swoopes at QB (and perhaps even including a pop pass) eliminates the extra man advantage on defense, allows us to handle the OSU DEs with extra men or by simple assignment constraints and it completely changes the footing of the game.
Texas had a real chance to create cheap safe offense and solve the field position problem. Ride the wrinkle out to the 40 and then reassess. Or keep grinding until they stop it. Then take a deep shot off of play action. Swoopes had 3 carries for 35 yards against the Cowboy short yardage D and the plays all looked fantastic in execution. It seemed like a pretty obvious silver bullet, but maybe I just see the game differently. Those two drives were three and outs (flanked by a four and out and another three and out), OSU took over at midfield each time and we couldn't flip the field.
Instead, we chose to run the ball out of the spread with OSU outnumbering us and expecting runs or safe passes. And we were understandably too worried to do anything bold given our total inability to stop the OSU DEs or pick up simple blitzes outside.
I thought we left a useful bullet unfired.
Heard ran for 103 yards, went backwards for 55 and finished the day with 48 yards on 19 carries. He was 9 of 17 for 119 and an interception, but that one is on Marcus Johnson. He also had two other drops. I'm quite impressed with his overall accuracy and composure when he has a pocket. When he gets too much pressure, he's a freshman who is going to try to make a play. Good or bad. Outside of some poor decisions to extend plays that didn't need extending, I thought he played well enough to win. I was very proud of Tyrone Swoopes and for the coaches to find him a power running role that keeps hits off of Heard and gives us a chance to play power football with our...ahem....RB situation. I'm sure we have a pop pass and some other chicanery building off of that play in the future. Frankly, it's also likely that Swoopes will have to play again during this season, so we should keep him engaged.
In my pregame preview, I pointed out some of the things OSU was going to do to Heard and you could pretty much tick them all off as the game progressed. Corner blitzes, simple overloads etc. I have no problem with how Heard played overall. Part of the development curve.
Gray had a nice scoot through a massive hole created by Doyle and Vahe when we caught OSU in a bad defense. His 10 other carries went for 13 yards and he didn't beat first contact. Had some good pass blocks and a vicious open field hit on a Cowboy defender. D'onta Foreman had a perfectly blocked outside zone touchdown run called back and didn't do much more than Heard in his other shots. His slip on a key 3rd down zone run was a huge blow to any comeback hopes.
Very proud of the play of the starting offensive tackles, who were up to the early challenge posed by Bean and Ogbah. Williams got shaken up early and stuck it out going against very good players. You could tell he was suffering. He will be a great player for us. Warrior.
Once Perkins went out, everything changed. Marcus Hutchins split two defenders on an outside blitz (he didn't hit either defender) allowing Heard to be sacked somewhere in San Marcos on a 4th down and Ogbah ate Hutchins lunch for the rest of the game (he grabbed another quick sack, two pressures and a tackle for loss). Nickelson replaced Marcus and did slightly better, but with Williams banged up our overall tackle situation was dire. If Perkins misses several games, Heard's chances of injury quadruple.
The interior OL played adequately. OSU's DTs were solid and each unit had their moments. Vahe and Doyle were called for holds of a somewhat dubious nature, but I'm not sure I'm holding those calls against them.
This group has improved substantially since ND and now...we're starting over. The gap in play at replacement level for Perkins is huge. We can't catch a break.
I love Caleb Bluiett's contributions at TE. He won a 29 yard jump ball on a small Cowboy DB and he played with a lot of aggression, though not always perfection. He's going to get better as the season progresses and he helps us on the edge with respect to physicality. Beck drew a PI in the end zone that wasn't called.
A run heavy Texas offense limited opportunity and Kent Perkins going out was a stake in this unit's heart. Daje dropped another two perfectly thrown balls, one of which would have been worth a 25+ yards. We're not good enough to have Daje catch only 65% of his targets and his failure to catch before running on screens is costing us easy, cheap big plays.
It was good to see Marcus Johnson back, though I think rust may have helped explain his volleyball set to the OSU defender.
We've got players here now. Can we block long enough to get them the ball and will they catch it? The unit had six catches and three drops. Unacceptable.
The offense played well enough to win against a solid OSU defense until Perkins went out and the offensive staff left some options unexplored in our power running game in the 4th quarter when our offense was crippled. If Perkins is out long term, an improving Texas offense was just dealt a major setback and a large blow to both ceiling and floor.