The season’s best performance by the Longhorn offense was a fun watch, not just because it highlighted the supreme growth of Sam Ehlinger, the OL in pass protection, the wide receivers, and Tre Watson being possessed by tackle-breaking demons, but it also showed once again what the Longhorn offense is capable of operating without an imposed governor on its upside.
The defensive debacle you saw live on Saturday in Austin was even worse in review. I enjoy writing for all of you and relish my decades of connection to the Longhorn community, but you all owe me a Go Fund Me page to pay for my psychiatric care after being forced to watch this Longhorn defense play football again.
Texas matches up pretty well with West Virginia in Austin and since there’s no bye week, there’s that much less time for a solid Mountaineer staff to hone in on our tendencies/personnel the way Mike Gundy did in Stillwater.
If you’re interesting in assessing primary blame as to why Texas lost in Stillwater, look to the defense and some key mistakes on special teams. Refer to that sentence if you mistake any criticisms here for a defense of the Texas defense. Or look at the title of the post.
In the 2018 Thinking Texas Football preseason preview, I predicted that the Cowboys would take a step back this year, despite their preseason rankings in the Top 25 and some media Big 12 Dark Horse title talk. Given that the resilient Mike Gundy has won 10+ games in 4 of his last 5 seasons and in 6 of his last 8, the odds probably were not in my favor, but the prediction has borne out.
Here are the current Big 12 standings:
The Longhorn Defense held a Baylor offense averaging 36 points per game to less than half of their season average and also forced the Bears to log seasons lows in production (328 yards) and yards per play (4.4). The Bears had been surprisingly effective running the ball to date, but Texas held them to 88 yards on 34 attempts and right around 3 yards per carry on normal runs (i.e. take out sacks). In all, Texas registered 10 tackles for loss and anytime a defense can ring up double digits in that category while minimizing big plays over the top, they’re very likely on the way to a winning defensive performance.
Texas survived an early first quarter starting QB injury and secured the win over a game Baylor football squad despite a sputtering Longhorn offense underperforming against a bottom tier FBS defense. It felt a bit Tulsa-like, including the scoreless offensive second half.
The Bears have won four of their first six games with pretty good offense and a subpar defense. Head coach Matt Rhule is doing a good job of recruiting raw speed and SPARQ superstars to Waco while simultaneously understanding that his natural inclination to win with defense as at Temple isn’t going to cut it with this current Bear roster. Consequently, the Bears run a wide open tempo offense that runs a lot of plays.
OU has a really good offense. That was obvious coming in, more obvious during the game, and really obvious on the re-watch. The OL is high quality, Murray is a unique freak, the RBs are very solid and the wide receivers and tight end are very good – though probably not quite as dominant in a vacuum as the scheme makes them. Riley puts them in fantastic situations and they are constantly mind screwing the opposing teams coverage by constantly muddying assignments, shifting personnel, using unconventional backfield action and creating easy reads for the QB. They’re a handful, they install a lot of stuff, play fast, and it’s impressive that they can execute all of it.