Texas entered this season shooting to get at least 10 more plays per game than the Longhorns did a year ago. And so far, they're about on pace. Last season, Texas had 67.5 plays per game — this year, they're at 77.25.
But that's not necessarily the real story of the Longhorn offense. Texas has had to fight through a head injury to starting quarterback David Ash, with Case McCoy taking his spot when needed. And, as the numbers show, Texas has been a very different offense, both in terms of tempo and efficiency, when each quarterback is in the ball game.
Let's take a look.
TEXAS TOTAL PLAYS AND YARDS PER GAME
New Mexico State — 72 plays, 715 yards
BYU — 83 plays, 445 yards
Ole Miss — 73 plays, 320 yards
Kansas State — 81 plays, 452 yards
From here, I've broken things into halves, with each quarterback getting credit for halves that they mostly played. So Ash played in five halves — the four halves from New Mexico State and BYU and the first half of the Kansas State game — while McCoy played in the other three halves. Those came by McCoy playing both halves against Ole Miss and the second half against Kansas State.
Here are the offense's numbers under each quarterback.
Ash Totals (Five Halves) — 200 plays, 1,455 yards, 7.28 yards per play
McCoy Totals (Three Halves) — 109 plays, 477 yards, 4.38 yards per play
Ash Per-Half Average — 40 plays, 291 yards
McCoy Per-Half Average — 36.3 plays, 159 yards
Obviously, Ash's stats appear somewhat skewed because of the New Mexico State game. So let's remove it. That gives Ash two halves against BYU and a half against Kansas State.
Ash Adjusted Total (Three Halves) — 128 plays, 740 yards, 5.78 yards per play
Ash Adjusted Per-Half Average — 42.7 plays, 246.7 yards
Interestingly enough, Ash actually has gotten more plays against tough competition. Part of that is because the Longhorns scored so quickly against New Mexico State that it made it difficult to sustain prolonged drives, the bell-cow of increased plays. Not surprisingly though, his yards and yards per play dropped, though as you can see, they're still significantly above McCoy's numbers, both in terms of number of plays and yards per play.
It's a small sample size on each player, and the edge in plays per game wouldn't seem to be that much. Except that there's this: McCoy is averaging 72.6 plays per game. Ash is averaging 80 plays per game, and 85.4 plays per game against good competition. That's a serious gap in speed, and when you add in the efficiency — some of which is probably helped by the increased tempo — it's easy to see a difference between Ash and McCoy.