Coach V’s Grades: Texas 28, WVU 14

Sam Ehlinger. (Will Gallagher/IT)

Sam Ehlinger. (Will Gallagher/IT)

Texas thumped No. 24 West Virginia in Morgantown on Saturday, notching bowl eligibility in Tom Herman’s first season. Here are Coach Venable’s grades following the 28-14 win.

OFFENSE:

Sometimes chickens. Sometimes feathers. Sometimes facts. Sometimes opinions.

Shane Buechele only played two series yesterday. Shane would be a tremendous QB for Alabama or LSU. He would make fifty quality handoffs to a stable of bronco-busters behind six road graders and be deadly accurate on his 15 play-action passes to big play weapons. Unfortunately, we are a slightly different offensive personnel.

Sam Ehlinger would have been a Mike LB in a different lifetime. He has that “nose” for anticipation that the good Mikes had back in the day (BTS—before the spread). Sam has that offensive nose at QB now—he smells the live ammunition caused all too frequently by our “look-out” blocks and just seems to find the right move most of the time. He actually fits our current personnel. Wait until he starts shaving more than once a week.

We found the formula for H-B and TE. Throw each an early td and face an undersize front and you have a Warren-Moore success story. Just one key unlocks them both—come on people now—smile on your brother.

Danny Young and Kyle Porter really like our O-H counter, especially with Connor walling the inside defenders and Jake logging the unsuspecting scraper leaving the kick-out to Moore/Warren. Fits their respective strengths well. Well planned—well coached.

Terrell Cuney has now played almost complete games at three positions on the Oline. He added LG to the mix yesterday. Most might not realize just how difficult it is to know assignments for three different OL positions—the fact that he doesn’t blow assignments (not to be confused with execution) is exceptional regardless of degree of successful execution. I appreciate just how far he has come and now look at him in a different light—he still has limitations that might require more time to accomplish positive results.

Dan Jenkins once wrote a passage that stuck with me throughout my career. He was talking about doing something extraordinary in the Super Bowl—I used it on every level of high school football. He wrote that sometime during the game someone would do something better than they had ever done before and it would make a difference in the final outcome of the game. He reasoned that it would be done was because they would ALL be trying to be that person.

Connor Williams, Sam Ehlinger, Kyle Porter, Chris Warren, Jerrod Heard, Lorenzo Joe, RHM, LJH, Kendall Moore, and Terrell Cuney all got dirty throwing blocks downfield trying to help their teammate get extra yardage. It’s only fair to say we might have had many more—-camera didn’t help me much this week. In years past we were seldom treated to guys sacrificing their bodies with extra effort on the blocking side of offense—the only ground we touched was the LOS once we lost contact. It’s refreshing to say the least.

It’s very rewarding that the newest attitude adjustment (the Herman way) has delivered a bowl game for our players. As a coach I can’t tell you how important those extra 15 practices are to the returning players. Couple with the 15 spring practices and you have over half a season of practices after the regular season has ended. Players come a long way in six full weeks of drills, scales, and inside/outside individual technique work plus all the toilet bowls (scrimmaging red-shirts and seldom used backups) so they get team work. It’s vital to the program you get these 15 “bowl reward practices” every year.

It’s extremely necessary to win Friday against Tech—we need a winning record to cement a successful turnaround ending with a bowl win. Not that we need it but I would bet the ranch we have a little extra spring in our step this week in practice. It would be nice to get another healthy body back this week—Connor Williams was a pretty damn good surprise, huh.

Here are the grades:

7—Buechele—B+___(Pass)

11—Ehlinger—A-___(Pass)

21—Porter—A-___(Pass)

32—Young—B+___(Pass)

30—Carter—B+___(Pass)

1—Burt—B___(Pass)

3—Foreman—B___(Pass)

6—Duvernay—B+___(Pass)

9—Johnson—B___(Pass)

13—Heard—A-___(Pass)

14—Joe—A-___(Pass)

17—Hemphill-Mapps—A-___(Pass)

84—Humphrey—A-___(Pass)

25—Warren—B+___(Pass)

88—Moore—B+___(Pass)

55—Williams—A-___(Pass)

56—Shackelford—B___(Pass)

64—McMillon—B+___(Pass)

68—Kerstetter—B+___(Pass)

51—Cuney—B+___(Pass)

77—Vahe—B___(Pass)

Kris Boyd. (Will Gallagher/IT)

Kris Boyd. (Will Gallagher/IT)

DEFENSE:

Notes and opinions for what they are worth.

Malcolm Roach, Charles Omenihu, Chris Nelson, and Breckyn Hager don’t get enough recognition for the effort they give as 3’s, 4 i’s, and 5 techniques. They are supposed to be block swallowers and yet they consistently penetrate and wreck blocking schemes despite the fact they are assigned/wishful thinking keeping the LOS as best possible. Unsung heroes ain’t even in it.

Poona Ford deserves every ounce of praise he receives—guy is just like the Energizer bunny except he runs thru walls getting to ball-carriers.

Could coach Orlando have asked for two better pupils to teach at LB than Gary Johnson and Malik Jefferson? It’s a shame he wanted to wait until Gary proved “he belonged” (his words) because it’s been a genuine privilege to watch the pair road race to the ball. Don’t know if I’ve ever seen a LB change his spots as much as Malik in just one season. If you watched his h.s. highlights you suspected Malik wouldn’t ever be a bucket of blood LB but you had hopes he would make those WOW plays and they would be enough. Well, he’s the entire package now—the real deal and Gary Johnson ain’t far behind. Thank you guys for making this old has-been proud of watching you grow under coach Orlando’s watchful eye.

Kris Boyd has decided to be a difference making corner. Who knew that was coming? Wow—just wow.

I’ve decided the toughest job on this defensive staff is the safeties coach. First, we play about six on most downs. They range from blitzers, edge setters, force/contain from on/off the line, hook to curl zoners, quarters, halves, and must be able to switch at the drop of a hat once motion has been introduced from the offense. Deshon Elliott is the closest we come to a complete safety. Brandon Jones has exactly zero ball skills or comfort coverage habits but illustrates his value like his GL tackle/turnover yesterday. Antwuan Davis has coverage problems but will attack all aspects of the ball. Jason Hall has found his calling on this football team. He no longer hangs 80 yards deep awaiting the deep ball like in previous campaigns.

We need another strong defensive performance Friday against Tech. I’m betting my lunch money this group shows up ready for another street fight. Tech needs it to become bowl eligible. Double incentive in my book. Let’s tee it up.

Here are the grades:

32—Roach—A-___(Pass)

90—Omenihu—A-___(Pass)

97—Nelson—A-___(Pass)

95—Ford—A-___(Pass)

44—Hager—A-___(Pass—no way I’m punishing him for a football hit)

46—Jefferson—A-___(Pass)

33—Johnson—A-___(Pass)

40—Hughes—-B___(Pass)

2—Boyd—A-___(Pass)

4—-Elliott—A-___(Pass)

18—Davis—B+___(Pass)

31—Hall—A-___(Pass)

7—Davis—A-___(Pass)

19—Jones—B___(Pass)

15 Brown, 24 Bonney, and 35 Freeman all had good special teams plays.