Good, Bad and Ugly of 28-7 loss to Baylor

My 30 thoughts after a 28-7 loss to Baylor in which the Texas defense came up big again, and the offense continued a second-half swoon.

#1 … The energy from the players inside of DKR, even with 6,900 unsold tickets, was through the roof from the start of the game. And, as a result, DKR was as loud as it’s been all year. Night and day difference from the BYU game.

#2 … Unfortunately, the outcome of the game was nearly a mirror image of the BYU game with the defense doing great work against the top scoring offense in the country (it was 7-0 midway through the 3Q and 14-0 going into the 4Q) only to get no help from its offense or special teams once again.

The offense went flat in the second half for the second game in a row. And the special teams allowed a blocked FG to be returned for Baylor's first TD and allowed a fake punt to continue a drive to points for the Bears.

#3 … Charlie Strong said he told the team after the game, “We’re going to eventually get over the hump and win these games. We just need to keep playing together.” Offensive players are clearly frustrated that the offense is not doing enough to help the team.

“The offense – we’re hurting ourselves. We’re hurting this team,” said John Harris, who was flagged for a momentum-draining taunting penalty on UT’s best drive of the third quarter. “We have to score points or we’re not going to compete in the Big 12.”

Strong said he doesn’t worry about his team fracturing along offensive and defensive lines, because, “Everywhere I’ve been, the defense has outperformed the offense. It won’t be finger-pointing. We’re a team.”

#4 … At halftime, the Longhorns led Baylor in offense (190-129 yds); time of possession (18:41-11:19); and 3rd down conversions (4-of-8 vs 2-of-8). But the Longhorns still trailed, 7-0.

Everyone at DKR could tell the Horns were going to have to dig deep to overcome some really deflating self-inflicted wounds:

1) The blocked FG return for TD;

2) Swoopes' INT in BU territory (thrown behind Geoff Swaim;

3) holding call on Sed Flowers that negated Swoopes-to-Malcolm Brown, 22-yard, catch-and-run TD;

4) Swoopes' fumble on the goal line.

The defense did dig deep in the third quarter. The offense did not.

#5 … The bottom line is the Texas offense opened the second half with the following drives:

1) Three plays, 9 yards, 2:20 – deepest penetration the Texas 41

2) Four plays, 8 yards, 1:50 – deepest penetration the Baylor 44 (John Harris unsportsmanlike conduct drive. It was after this drive that BU converted a fake punt, leading to a TD pass and 14-0 lead.)

3)Three plays, 8 yards, 1:38 – deepest penetration the Texas 33

4) Five plays, 23 yards, 1:28 – deepest penetration the Texas 40

5) Three plays, 3 yards, :59 – deepest penetration the Texas 37

(After this drive, Baylor drove 75 yards in 12 plays for a TD – and 21-0 lead - with every yard coming on the ground.)

6) Texas answered by going three plays for minus-4 yards before punting.

#6 … After outgaining Baylor 190-129 yards in the first half, the Texas offense’s first six drives of the second half totaled 21 plays for 47 yards with a long drive of five plays for 23 yards.

That is totally unacceptable.

#7 … Shawn Watson said after the game UT’s rushing attack bogged down on the first two drives of the 3Q, causing everything to get out of synch offensively.

#8 … When I asked Watson what he was noticing about the offense bogging down in the second half of games (Texas ran 6 times for 7 yards in the 3Q vs Kansas and 6 times for 0 yards in the 4Q vs KU), he said the offensive line may be wearing down in the second half.

Yikes. Really?

#9 … For the second week in a row, Texas drives the length of the field and coughs up the ball at their opponent's goal line after yet another bad center-QB exchange.

Last week, it was a 75-yard drive to Kansas’ 3, when Swoopes did not appear ready for Jake Raulerson's snap. (Watson said today that snap was Raulerson’s fault for not snapping it on the correct count.)

This week, on first-and-goal from the Baylor 1, it appeared Swoopes tried to start his QB sneak before he had the ball firmly in his hands. Baylor DT Beau Blackshear (who blocked UT's 52-yard FG attempt) recovered.

Watson said today’s bad snap was on Swoopes for trying to start his QB sneak before having the ball secured.

#10 … Watson said he thought Swoopes played nervous/tentative today more than he had in any other game this season.

Watson pointed to Swoopes not being calm in the pocket and failing to keep his eyes downfield – instead, Watson said, Swoopes was feeling the rush, getting happy feet and never quite seemed to have his rhythm throwing the ball.

#11 … Watson said he’s not worried about getting to the end of the season and realizing that Swoopes wasn’t the right QB to go with (over Jerrod Heard), because, “I see him every day in practice. I’m convinced Ty Swoopes will be a good quarterback for us because he has good character.

“He takes things personally. Maybe too personally. He needs to develop a thicker skin and move on to the next play. But that comes with experience. He’s a sophomore, but it’s his first year playing, so he’s really like a freshman.”

#12 … Swoopes said he can play better.

“I have to do a better job of executing the offense,” Swoopes said. “We did a lot of things right in the first half. Now, we have to carry it over (to the second half).”

#13 … Johnathan Gray’s 2-yard TD run with 2:14 to play, capping a 12-play, 92-yard drive (4:23 off the clock), kept Texas from being shut out at home for the first since a 30-0 loss to Houston at DKR on Nov. 6, 1976.

Gray led Texas in rushing with 12 carries for 79 yards (6.6 ypc). Texas ran 40 times for 190 yards (4.8 ypc), but has yet to produce a 100-yard rusher this season.

#14 … RB Malcolm Brown said scoring the first points of a game with two minutes left in a game is unacceptable at Texas. Brown said the offense is talented enough to move the ball more effectively than it has been up to this point. He said the offense just needs to keep grinding.

#15 … Watson said the botched snap on the goal line was Tyrone Swoopes’ fault for trying to get into his QB sneak before he had the ball secured. Watson said last week’s botched snap was on Jake Raulerson for snapping on an incorrect count (too early).

#16 … The Texas defense may have put Baylor QB Bryce Petty’s Heisman campaign on pause after holding him to 7-of-22 passing for 111 yards.

#17 … As the Texas defense got worn down in the third quarter, it started to give up rushing yards in chunks. After holding Baylor to 22 carries for 86 yards on the ground in the first half (3.9 ypc), the Bears ran 38 times for 193 yards in the second half (5.07 ypc).

#18 … Huge play by DT Paul Boyette and LB Jordan Hicks to stuff Bryce Petty on third-and-3 from the Baylor 41 on BU’s third possession of the third quarter, forcing a punt. It stopped a lot of Baylor momentum (after the fake punt and 30-yard TD pass gave BU a 14-0 lead). The defense kept trying to give its offense another chance to get going.

#19 … After inspired play by the Texas defense to keep Baylor from getting into a rhythm yet again, Art Briles made a brilliant call on the fake punt on fourth-and-10 from BU’s 33.

Punter Spencer Roth, who called the fake on his own, looked like Darren Sproles zipping right up the middle of the field for 19 yards and a first down. Texas was totally surprised.

With the defense deflated after that play, Baylor’s offense finally got into a rhythm and Bryce Petty hit Antwan Goodley for a 30-yard TD reception.

#20 … Baylor’s receivers dropped some big passes on Saturday, including a deep ball to Levi Norwood that might have gone for points in the first half.

#21 … The taunting call on John Harris on Texas’ second possession of the 3Q was legit. He pointed with the football, then flipped it backward. Harris said after the game he was pointing for a first down, not at a Baylor player.

But Harris said the official told him he can’t even point for a first down.

“The coaches have told me not to do that,” Harris said. “But I’d never been called for a penalty. I won’t do that anymore, because it hurt our team.”

What should have been a big, momentum-generating play with Harris turning a horribly underthrown pass from Swoopes into a great catch between two defenders – wasn’t. Texas should have had a 34 yard reception to the BU 30 with DKR on fire.

Instead, it was first down at the BU 44, and UT’s momentum was snuffed. Texas ended up going three-and-out after that (with a false start penalty on Marcus Hutchins mixed in). Brutal.

#22 … I hate to complain about officiating, but a missed call (pass interference by BU safety Terrell Burt against Jaxon Shipley on third and 6 from the Baylor 35) led to the 52-yard FG attempt by Nick Rose that was blocked by BU DT Beau Blackshear and returned by Burt for a TD, putting the Bears up 7-0 with 9:02 left 1Q.

#23 … Texas had a 48-yard FG attempt by Nick Rose blocked last week at Kansas. The wind was behind Rose on that attempt too. But Rose is kicking his long FG attempts low. Beau Blackshear didn’t even get that much penetration in blocking Rose’s 52-yard attempt.

Strong said after the game he wouldn’t second-guess his decision to go for the field goal with the wind at Rose’s back.

#24 … Big play by Caleb Bluiett to get after Bryce Petty and draw an intentional grounding penalty on third-and-3 on BU’s first drive of the second half. Bluiett is making plays that matter. (Last week, he also pressured Kansas’ Montell Cozart last week on the failed, fourth-and-goal pass that Duke Thomas broke up.)

#25 … I liked seeing Duke Thomas on kick returns. Thomas has a fearless nature on returns after Marcus Johnson had looked a little tentative this season. Thomas opened the second half with a 33-yard return.

#26 … Texas needed new wrinkles on offense, and Shawn Watson provided them with more plays involving the TE and a really well-timed pass from Tyrone Swoopes to FB Alex De La Torre coming off the goal line for 23 yards on second-and-9 from the Texas 2.

But Swoopes needed to be more decisive and more opportunistic (especially with a chance to run north and south) when a play breaks down and he goes off schedule. He’s waiting too long and allowing the defense to react.

#27 … Swoopes had done a good job of hitting his receivers in stride. Not against Baylor. He repeatedly threw behind his receivers early in the game, costing them yards after the catch on an offense that has struggled to make yards period.

#28 … The defense had done a great job of tackling Baylor until BU’s 14-play, 82-yard drive in the third quarter. Obviously, Texas came up with a huge goal-line stand on fourth-and-inches to stuff the drive.

But it probably should have never come to that. (Jordan Hicks missed Shock Linwood behind the line of scrimmage on a third-and-5 run from the Baylor 44 that Linwood ended up gaining 6 yards and a first down. And there were others as the defense started wearing down.)

#29 … I liked the offensive line shuffle in the starting lineup – moving Kent Perkins from right tackle back to his more natural position of right guard (replacing Taylor Doyle) and starting Darius James at RT. On UT’s first offensive play, Malcolm Brown picked up five yards running right behind Perkins.

#30 … Players said having Oklahoma up next will drive the team to work even harder to correct mistakes and improve.

“The OU game is one of the reasons you come to Texas,” said senior CB Quandre Diggs. “That game is fun. I’m looking forward to it. I know the rest of our team is, too.”

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