Any grading scale applied to football is going to have some degree of subjectivity. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder the saying goes, and Inside Texas’ @UTexasfootball has seen a lot of beauty (or ugly) on the gridiron in his esteemed career.
One of the fascinating things about college football is how much a team can change year over year. Strong programs are generally known for something whether it’s a particular type of personnel grouping, concepts, or style of play. However, the way teams attack others and the week-to-week tactics tend to change a lot as the new “senior” class takes over and defines the identity of the team.
This offense is less than the sum of its parts. That's objectively true with only 28 points on the board despite a lot of yardage generated and 21 on the board at halftime, but you really see that subjectively in game review. It's strange to see 9 or 10 Longhorn players "win" on a given play and the offense gets a no gain or a negative play. Conversely, Tulsa had some big second half gains for their offense, where only a handful of players at critical spots "won." Why is that?
After Texas head coach Tom Herman seized playcalling duty from offensive coordinator Tim Beck for the victory over Missouri in the Texas Bowl, the question of who would call the offense in Herman’s second season in Austin became one of the main offseason storylines.
The practice reports and coming depth chart have really started to clear up the picture on what the Texas offense is going to look like in 2018. The confusing aspect of this team is that with Collin Johnson and Lil’Jordan Humphrey out there running routes, some of the best play-making talent on the team is concentrated at WR. However, the pass protection from the OL is still a question mark and while Sam Ehlinger was effective throwing the ball in 2018 he’s still only a sophomore. Then there’s the preferred philosophy of Tom Herman and the hire of Herb Hand, which all portends a stubborn insistence on bulldozing opponents with the run game.
In the last decade or so the tight end position has infringed on the domain of wide receivers. Especially in the NFL, it has become a glamour position that prizes athleticism over grunt work. But for Tom Herman's offense, glamour is in the grunt work that helps the offense operate as intended. He'll take any and all modern day mutants at the position, but they must possess the willingness to aid in the running game first and foremost.
We already talked about the knowns and unknowns for the Texas defense last week and it was an encouraging discussion. Texas had to take on something approximating half of their 2018 offseason defensive rebuild in their bowl practices before taking on Missouri when Holton Hill, Malik Jefferson, and DeShon Elliott were all unavailable. When they proceeded to lay waste to Missouri’s highly rated offense while featuring back-ups, young bucks, and juniors across the lineup that was a pretty good indicator that the 2018 defense was going to end up being just fine.