Five Things I Think

Five things I think about Texas's 34-12 loss to UCLA on Saturday.

* I think that it wouldn't have mattered who the Longhorns played yesterday. The Longhorns had the ball 14 times, and ended half of those on turnovers. Four came from fumbles, one ended via interception and two ended on missed fourth-down attempts (which most staffs count as turnovers).

Not only did those turnovers drastically influence field position (UCLA's average scoring drive lasted just 35 yards), but they helped to set up all 13 of UCLA's first-half points, giving the Bruins a 13-3 halftime lead that they only had to travel 43 yards for. The Bruins scored a touchdown after moving the ball just four yards, while a field goal came after a two-yard drive.

* I think the defense's struggles were atypical for a Will Muschamp-coached unit. Not only did the Longhorn defense repeatedly miss tackles, players missed on their run fits and were consistently out-of-position to make plays. But don't think that the production means that Texas can't stop the run. The Longhorns can, and did stop the running game on better than 85 percent of UCLA's carries.

The Bruins rushed for 177 of their yards on eight carries that went for double-digit yards. Those carries included runs of 11, 13 (twice), 19 (twice), 29, 35 and 38 yards and accounted for all three of UCLA's rushing touchdowns. Other than those eight plays, UCLA rushed for 87 yards on 48 carries (1.8 yards per tote) and didn't score any touchdowns.

Those numbers speak to problems with consistency of play, rather than an inability to make the play.

* I think that D.J. Monroe acquitted himself well. Sure, he was involved in two turnovers. But one came when he didn't have time to secure the ball on a handoff when the offensive line missed a block (that turnover was actually attributed to quarterback Garrett Gilbert), and the other came on the game's final kickoff, after the game had been decided.

But during his time on offense, Monroe rushed for 51 yards on just six carries, and broke an explosive 23-yard run. Even without that run, Monroe averaged nearly six yards per carry, nearly three times the average put up by starter Fozzy Whittaker.

With an offensive line that has struggled at times to create gaping holes, there's something to be said for a player who has the vision and acceleration to scoot through the smallest of gaps, while also bringing elite speed to bend the edge. The next step will be to get Monroe some touches in space on plays like screen passes or flare-outs to the flat.

* I think I was also impressed at times with Gilbert. He showed quite a bit of poise at times against a defense that came after him, stepping up and moving around in the pocket to make plays. He made a poor throw on the interception (rather than making a poor decision), and needed to secure the ball better when he was sacked and stripped. But the latter play happens to almost all quarterbacks who don't see the sack coming.

He was hurt at times by drops, and by a receiver's mistake of not getting past the chains on a fourth-down play. But he completed 66.6 percent of his throws and showed an ability to move the ball through the air, passing for 264 yards. Don't forget that he had another 10-yard completion called back for what appeared to be a bogus offensive pass interference call, and gained Texas another 15 yards on a defensive pass interference call.

* I think it will be interesting to see how this game affects Texas heading into Saturday's Red River Shootout. According to Texas coach Mack Brown, the Longhorns haven't typically played well the week before their rivalry game with Oklahoma, though that performance hasn't usually cost them in the Oklahoma game itself.


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