Weekly Analysis: Gilbert and the Passing Game

The past two weeks, the Longhorns have shown a definite move away from the power running game that they talked about before the season started.

In today's analysis, we'll take a look at the progress of quarterback Garrett Gilbert.

With Texas trailing against both UCLA and Oklahoma, the Longhorns abandoned a level of balance they attempted to achieve with quarterback Gilbert at the helm. So in that vein, the second-half numbers are going to be somewhat skewed. He's going to throw more passes to try and bring Texas back from deficits. Against UCLA for example, Texas threw the ball almost twice as many times as it ran, 45-23. But in the first half, with a closer game, the Longhorns passed the ball 19 times to 16 runs.

The ratio was somewhat similar in the Oklahoma game. Overall, Texas threw the ball 42 times (41 times by Gilbert) and ran it 22 times. But in the first half, the Longhorns passed just five more times (16-11) than they ran it.

Here are Gilbert's passing numbers, divided by half, from Texas's last two games.

Gilbert vs. UCLA 30-45-1 interception-264 yards

First half: 13-19-1 65 (3 points)

Second half: 17-26-0-199 (9 points)

Gilbert vs. Oklahoma 27-41-1-266

First half: 10-15-1-58 (7 points)

Second half: 17-26-0-208 (13 points)

Gilbert in the first half: 23-34-2-123 (67.6 completion percentage, 5.3 yards per completion, 3.6 yards per attempt, 10 points)

Gilbert in the second half: 34-52-0-407 (65.4 completion percentage, 12.0 yards per completion, 7.8 yards per attempt, 22 points)

Before delving into the stats, one would expect GIlbert to be more efficient in the first half, when the Longhorns were still able to pose a running threat. The ability to fool the defense should lead to a higher efficiency level.

But obviously, that hasn't been the case. Gilbert has completed a slightly better percentage in the first half, but at the expense of getting the ball down the field. In the second half, he has still put up strong completion percentage numbers, but has enhanced his play with twice as many yards per completion and yards per attempt. Not surprisingly too, the Longhorns have scored more than twice as many points.

Look at the UCLA first half numbers. A quarterback who puts up those kinds of numbers typically finds himself fighting for his job. But if you look at the second-half numbers, it's the exact opposite. A quarterback who completes 65 percent of his throws and passes for 400 yards without throwing any interceptions has played an excellent game.

If there's one concern displayed through all of the halves it's the lack of scoring, and more specifically, the lack of touchdowns. Even in the second half, Texas only scored 22 points over the last two games, and only put up two touchdowns.

Gilbert said after the Oklahoma game that the Sooners did a great job of taking away his main options and forcing him to check down to his third and fourth receivers in the first half. The staff was able to make adjustments and get the ball down the field in the second half. But then the question arises about whether the game plan was solid going in, and why Texas wasn't able to make adjustments as the first half went on.

The positive from the above numbers is that I think Gilbert has started to show a great ability to throw the football and move it downfield. At the same time, the staff needs to take measures to allow him to make those throws and plays early on … before the Longhorns build a deficit.

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