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There was something different about Texas to start the game, something very different.
When the Longhorn offense took the field (after winning the toss and electing to receive) they lined up in an 11 personnel set they hadn’t shown all year.
These types of bunch formations are common in modern football, but it hadn’t been utilized by the burnt orange. Utah was surprised to see it too, and Texas’ ingenuity made the Utes pay from the first snap on.
The set was called “snug” according to Collin Johnson.
“On tape, they showed whenever people lined up like that, they play cover 2,” Johnson said. “Knowing that they didn’t gameplan, because we haven’t put that on tape, they were going to go to their base coverage – cover 2. That’s how we knew that’s what they were going to do that first drive.”
This formation allowed Texas rushers to find one-on-one matchups versus defensive backs in the open field, as Ian noted in his first quick thought.
One of their big wins was the bunch set, playing with the TE in an H-back set like normal but then keeping the slot and outside receivers fairly tight as well. The problem for Utah here was their emphasis on man coverage and the way these sets allowed Texas to create rubs, especially for the RBs and TEs breaking outside. But Texas did some real damage on their normal tight zone play from that bunch formation:
With hard cutbacks by the RBs, Texas could turn the tight zone play into a “Keaontay Ingram/Roschon Johnson vs the CB” matchup in space when they ran that play to the wide side like this. It was wildly effective, accounting for that 49-yard scoring run by Ingram and a pair of 20-yarders by Roschon.
The new formation was responsible for one of Texas’ five touchdowns. Prior to handing playcalling duties over to Mike Yurcich, Tom Herman added a few wrinkles that caught Utah by surprise, much like the rest of the Longhorns’ efforts.