This season, former Texas Longhorns' All-American OL Dan Neil - a two-time Super Bowl winner in Denver blocking for John Elway and 2,000-yard rusher Terrell Davis - is breaking down film of Texas games and telling the HD family what he sees. Catch him on LHN on Mondays at 6 pm CT.
For the record, Dan thinks Texas needs to move toward Jerrod Heard and/or Kai Locksley at QB, because he doesn't see championship pedigree in Tyrone Swoopes and doesn't want the fire of the 2015 recruiting class to be doused by a QB mindset that is about competing instead of championships. Y'all can ask him about that by posting questions on this thread.
But without further adieu, here's Dan's breakdown of the offensive line from Saturday night (hint - Things weren't as bad as you might think):
Let me start this off by thanking Chip and the team at HornsDigest.com
for allowing me to express my opinion about Texas football to someone other than my family and the guy at the end of the bar.
My poor wife has been listening to me bloviate about football for more than 20 years. Now, it is the readers of HD's turn to endure my opinion! Let me also say that I am still learning English, so please disregard the poor English and grammar.
I am no longer a football player, rather a fan like everyone else. I want to note this was not a voluntary transition, but one that all football players go through. I have been told you will enjoy being a fan and watching the game. I’m still waiting for that to happen!
It is hard to watch a game like the one I watched Saturday night and not be able to do something about it. As a fan, I sympathize with everyone when we see a performance like we did against Notre Dame.
My question is who in their right mind really thought we were going to win that game going into it! My coworker sent me a text complaining that he lost money on Texas against the spread. I just replied “idiot!” Fan does not have to mean stupid.
When you play football long enough you learn to find the positive out of the situation. You have to find the positive when you lose the opening game because it is a long season.
BIG WEEK FOR TEXAS COMING UP
A lot can change from week to week and most importantly, the opponent usually changes. Rice may be what the doctor ordered for this team. The Owls have a veteran, dual-threat in senior QB Driphus Jackson and a 1,000-yard rusher in RB Jowan Davis. But Rice has three new OL starters and only three starters back on defense from a team that beat Fresno State 30-6 in the Hawaii Bowl last season.
And make no mistake, Rice's David Bailiff can coach. You don't have two, 10-win seasons (2008, 2013) at Rice without being a good coach.
But the Longhorns are coming home - hopefully to a house full of fans. And that leads me to expectations.
As I heard fans talk last week about how Texas was going to win the Notre Dame game I reminded them the O-line was bad last year, and three of those players were back this year.
The only difference? Two true freshmen were going to start.
Two true freshmen starting are not going to save your offensive line on the road against Notre Dame, which has six of seven starters up front on defense back this season.
Makes me wish I would've bet my idiot coworker that $100.
I had been reading a lot about how Texas was set to change the offense this year. The only thing that has changed is an attempt to go up tempo - like so many teams are doing today.
The plays are the same. When someone talks about an offense and different styles of offense, don’t be fooled.
There is nothing being done today that Paul Brown and George Halas didn't do. Wing T, Wishbone, Veer are all the same thing just called something different to make it sound special.
Texas ran the spread last year and they are running it this year. The spread is a nickel offense where you block the back side end with the option hand-off or a QB keep.
I mentioned earlier football is a simple game! Don’t be fooled by people trying to make it more complicated than it is.
A major change in offense would be getting a fullback and two tight ends on the field at the same time. Now that is what I call an offense!
But there is no going back to the drawing board and having a major offensive overhaul at this point. What they need to do on offense is play better. Block, catch and throw.
The quarterback needs to step up in the pocket, know where his bailout is when protection breaks down and be accurate on the short and intermediate routes that move the chains. Do these things and the offense is instantly better.
I saw a lot more opportunity for Tyrone Swoopes to make some plays. But either he left the pocket before the rush truly got there, didn't know where to bail out with his eyes still downfield or simply missed on his throws.
Texas didn't do the little things offensively Saturday night, and that is why they scored 3 points off of one single pass play.
I doubt the structure of the offense is going to change. So players need to execute better and play better.
THE GAME IN THE TRENCHES VS. NOTRE DAME
When I watch football I do not spend a lot of time on coverages and routes, because none of that matters if you can’t run the ball and stop the run.
Football is a simple game and this allows simple minded people like me to be able to play it. I watch the center snap the ball and see what the 5 guys up front do against the 7 guys on the other side of the ball.
What I would like to do here is let you know what I saw Saturday night against Notre Dame and every week this season.
What I look for first is knowledge and effort. Those two things are a must, a given and are inexcusable if absent.
All players will be beat physically at times. Effort and knowing your job is up to you. If I don’t see these two things, I would keep going through the roster to find someone who will do these two things. If they're not on the roster, you're in trouble, and you go find it in recruiting. And Strong is bringing in guys who will always give you effort. He doesn't have enough of them yet. From a depth standpoint, he probably needs one more recruiting class to get there.
Give me 5 offensive lineman who know their job and give great effort, and we can go win a few games. Give me 5 who can do these two things with talent, and we can go win a championship.
After watching the first series, I can tell you that this offensive line is night and day better than last year. Why? Because of what I saw from Connor Williams' technique. If that's what Joe Wickline is teaching, then I come away from the Notre Dame game convinced Joe Wickline is a top offensive line coach.
I can see what he wants these guys to do, and he finally has a guy in Williams who can actually do it.
Last year, Texas was not athletically gifted enough on the OL to execute the scheme Wickline wants.
What he wants are athletic guys who can move - and not slow guys who are fat. He inherited a program that had slow, fat guys.
When I was in Denver, we were the smallest line in the league. Our three inside guys (two guards and center) averaged 285. Yet somehow, we led the league in rushing every year and blocked for a 2,000 rusher (Terrell Davis).
We did this by understanding the scheme and being quick. This line will get there. And Wickline is the kind of coach to get them there.
What I have enjoyed this week is idiot analysts trying to break down the offense line. You would be shocked how many people in football don’t know what the offensive line is doing.
I even read some guy Sunday morning trying to explain where the different guys should be playing. That idiot was hilarious!
Almost no one outside of football knows what the offensive line is doing. When you read about the play of offensive lineman, always check your source. Never trust anyone who has not either coached or played the position, and I don’t mean played it in high school.
I will not be critical of college players who give effort and know their assignment. They are students who play a little football and should be treated that way.
When they are professionals I will rip them apart when necessary. Below is what I see when I watched film of the Texas offensive line Saturday night:
* LT Connor Williams is the best offensive player on this team - not just offensive lineman - best offensive player on this team. I don’t care that he is a freshman. He plays hard and knows what he is doing. Four more guys like him, and Texas will win some games.
He needs to improve in his pass blocking, as does every young lineman.
Pass pro is the hardest thing to master. Not one high school offensive lineman understands how to pass pro. They have never faced rusher like they will see in college.
In high school, you can get away with being aggressive in pass blocking. In college you have to learn perfect technique - while going backwards. Not easy to do.
What I like most from Williams was his cutting. When you cut backside you create seams that Vahe could run through.
It also slows downs the pass rusher on pass plays. I survived 8 years in Denver cutting guys. I love it!
* Freshman OG Patrick Vahe has promise, but has a long way to go. He is obviously a big guy who should be able to run guys over. Right now his feet freeze when he makes contact.
Once he puts it all together and learns to drive his feet while making contact he’s going to be good. I want him to run through linebackers
instead of just trying to block them. He will in time. He also looks lost in pass pro. He is still trying to learn who he is supposed to be blocking on stunts and blitzes. It will come.
* OG Sed Flowers, C Taylor Doyle, RT Kent Perkins - They are what we saw last year for the most part. Doyle gives great effort, Flowers strength is run blocking, and Perkins is a guard playing tackle. Their play has improved from last year and the whole unit has improved.
I know, they were so bad last year they can only go up. True, but I see a glimmer of hope that they will not only be better, but they may be good by the time they play Baylor.
What I saw was one of the five breaking down on any given play, and this offense is not good enough to make up for that. Get the consistency that you need on offense and these breakdowns will get less and less and when they do happen a playmaker will step up and make a play.
An offensive lineman’s dream is 3rd and 2. Their nightmare is 3rd and 4.
I challenge any of you to go stop 315 pounds moving forward while you are moving backwards 30+ plus times a night. If it sounds hard, it is!
I think these 5 guys together will get this team to where it wants to be at the end of the year.
When you see a QB pressured it is not always the offensive line's fault. You would be shocked how many coaches don’t understand that.
I have had to explain offensive line play to a few head football coaches before.
There are 11 guys on offense, and you could point to anyone of them during a game and show a physical error. What kills you is when it is one per play and that stops the play. Everyone on offense needs to be more consistent. I don’t care if you’re running the Wing T or spread. This will always be true. It’s not the scheme, it’s the execution.
The reason this offense did not work is it missed opportunities for easy plays and too many negative plays and inconsistency. When you make a throw on a slant or drag route to an open receiver there has to be a completion.
If not, this offense does not have any playmakers to make up mistakes and missed opportunities. You can’t win with third-and-long situations. How many times was it second and first or less and then third-and-5 or more? Negative plays on second and first down kill an offense.
Stay on schedule and don’t miss opportunities.
I said during the game I’m not worried about Notre Dame. I’m worried about Baylor. If Texas played like they did last night at the end of the year, then it is time to worry.
Until that point, I am all in with Strong and what Wickline is teaching on the offensive line.
I believe this team is going to beat Baylor at the end of the year. That's right. Even after Saturday night.
Now, I need this team to believe they are going to beat Baylor at the end of the year!
I'll check back for your questions - so post em here. Thanks!