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The Texas coaches had an interesting pregame problem to solve. How do you throw the ball enough to protect the MASH unit RB room (every RB that isn’t injured is hurt) while still protecting Ehlinger and not allowing La Tech’s relative team strength of their DBs to spoil the game plan as the Bulldogs catch on to our passing game bias? The answer was to throw it early it and often, attacking the flats and perimeter at tempo, hit the running backs in space in the passing game, stake a lead, then let the play clock run in the 2nd half and go home. That’s what Texas executed against an inferior opponent that’s clearly several steps down from the defensive front it had last year.
Tom Herman’s Longhorn mentor Greg Davis would have been proud to see a tempo Longhorn attack that saw 14 of Ehlinger’s first 18 passes target less than 10 yards down the field, finishing the first half 20 of 26 for 173 yards and 3 touchdowns. It turns out a dink and dunk passing attack does work when your running game also averages 7 yards a carry from your primary ball carrier and the offense plays clean without penalties.
If Texas fans are wondering how a relatively conservative game plan with minimal explosive plays can yield 45 points on the board, remember that penalty free football, very few negative plays (La Tech had 1 sack, 3 tackles for loss) and good execution means an absence of negative game scripts and minimal time spent in 3rd and long. The red zone doesn’t really get tighter for us because we’re running an offense that acts like it’s already there.
As Tech rolled up their coverages, Texas hit the intermediate throws needed to effectively end the game. Texas ran enough to punish the honest box, but with a healthy contingent of runners, the Longhorns would have piled up 250+ yards rushing pretty easily. La Tech’s DL wasn’t good and the Texas OL looks solid early.
Good game plan by the Texas offensive staff given the personnel challenges they faced.
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