Dana Holgorsen has a reputation as the Air Raid coach who will actually run the ball. Or at least, that was his claim to fame before Lincoln Riley took over at Oklahoma and built the juggernaut that is the Baker Mayfield Sooner offense. Holgorsen was in early on RPOs (run/pass options), spread-I formations, and using the spread as a means to throw play-action bombs down the field. He’s moved further and further towards Art Briles’ style, particularly this season with the strong-armed Will Grier at QB.
The Texas offense in 2017 is sadly familiarly incompetent. It’s been a pretty horrendous failure to be sure, but it’s not unlike what we’ve seen from the team at other points this decade. Obviously Tom Herman is a coach with an offensive background who was expected to rectify this. He won a national title as the OC at Ohio State after winning during the season with a RS freshman QB (J.T. Barrett) and then all of their postseason games with the back-up (Cardale Jones).
The TCU and Kansas State games are essentially the key tests for how close Tom Herman is to realizing his vision for the program. You want to play great defense and be the most physical team on the field every week? That’s great, but that’s what these programs are all about as well and you’re not going to beat them at their own game on accident.
The TCU game has probably been the most consistently difficult on the schedule for Texas this decade. Lots of programs in the Big 12 will gameplan Texas diligently and precisely but none of them play defense to Gary Patterson’s standards and a weakness/tendency pounding defense has typically been the scariest thing imaginable for a 2010’s Texas offense.
Baylor is a terrible football team.
The unit that showed up at McLane today ended up looking closer to the squad that lost to Liberty than the unit that made gritty comebacks against OU and West Virginia. Probably Texas’ defense had something to do with Baylor lacking the will to fight but either way, they ended up allowing Texas to coast to victory.
One of the biggest challenges for defensive coordinators coming to the Big 12 is adjusting to the philosophical reality of how to stop Big 12 offenses. “First we gotta stop the run,” is an ironclad rule that was drilled into every defensive coach alive. Gameplans typically start from the perspective of “how do we ensure that we can stop their run game without getting killed by the pass?”
Texas’ knack for overtime games this season has been brutal. You can view it as Texas being incapable of getting separation or the Longhorns repeatedly scrapping and clinging to top teams that should otherwise be beating them down. There’s probably some truth in either direction although it’ll be interesting to see how Texas plays the Baylor Bears next week.
The 2017 schedule for Texas is shaping up to be rather challenging. The Longhorns were somewhat fortunate to draw a beat up Jesse Ertz when they took on Kansas State, although the Wildcats fared well in the adjustments that brought on, but are unfortunate that the road trips to Fort Worth and Morgantown now look more ominous than they did before the year began. But first Texas has to finish this daunting three-game stretch and take down Oklahoma State to get back over .500. A win here would make bowl eligibility a much surer thing with Baylor and Kansas still remaining to help Texas reach six victories.
That was probably the most physical Red River Shootout I’ve watched in some time. Texas brought a lot of fight to this game in 2013 and then throughout the Charlie Strong era, often bringing some toughness and physicality to the run game that gave Oklahoma trouble. This was another beast altogether though.
There are a lot of reasons that this 2017 Red River Shootout could be a compelling one. Oklahoma was a favorite pick for winning the Big 12 in preseason, largely thanks to the return of Baker Mayfield and a good offensive line from a historically great Sooner offense.