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Here are several quick notes/thoughts from the Longhorns loss to Cal on Saturday in Austin

Here are several quick notes/thoughts from the Longhorns loss to Cal on Saturday in Austin.

Obviously doesn't cover everything as I was watching ending. Will circle back around after pressers


CAL’S BEST RUNNING BACK DIDN’T PLAY TONIGHT… but it didn’t matter. Even with Daniel Lasco on the sideline with an injury Texas’ run defense gave up 291 yards on the ground, including 164 on 10 carries from Khalfani Muhammad, who busted right up the gut for a 74-yard score.


THE LONGHORNS NEED A LOT MORE OF … those two-back sets with Chris Warren and Johnathan Gray lined up next to Jerrod Heard. Both of Gray’s touchdowns in the second half came out of this formation with Warren acting as the lead blocker.


WHAT SAFETY CONCERNS? I doubt it will last long but you have to give Kevin Vaccaro and P.J. Locke credit for being ready to play when their numbers were called early on in this one.

Dylan Haines was ejected for targeting on Cal’s second possession, which forced Vaccaro into action. He made a tackle on his first play in the game, blitzing from the weak side.

His biggest play, though, came on Cal’s next possession when he laid his body out in front of Bears RB Khalfani Muhammad at the Texas 1-yard, forcing a the ball to pop out into the end zone where Antwuan Davis recovered it.

Locke whiffed on an open-field tackle late in the second quarter but otherwise played fairly good football in place of Jason Hall, who injured his left shoulder with 5 minutes left in the first quarter.


TEXAS NEEDS TO MAKE A CHANGE…. And find another position for John Bonney. I think he’s suited just fine for the nickel but he’s not doing much good on the boundary right now.

Cal knew it and picked on him consistently in the first half. He didn’t get any sort of push on Cal WR Kenny Lawler in the second quarter when the Bears were facing a 4th-and-3 from the UT 17. Lawler released cleanly off the line of scrimmage and beat Bonney to the back right of the end zone for the touchdown.

This wasn’t the only time that Bonney didn’t get any sort of push on a WR off the line of scrimmage. That’s not something Texas tires to do often but he wasn’t getting it done when it appeared as though he was trying. That’s an issue.

Bonney did come out in the nickel with 13:24 left in the game


FOUR DOWN… Charlie Strong suggested on Monday that Texas might need to bring in another lineman to help UT’s defensive line get more pressure. Well, the Longhorns started the game off with four down linemen and used that look fairly consistently throughout the first half.

Vance Bedford and his staff disguised certain players as they usually do, moving Naashon Hughes every where from his Fox end position to middle linebacker.

You can tell the staff is basically just telling Malik Jefferson to get to the football regardless of formation. He more or less lined up on the outside shoulder of Cal’s tackles and blitzed heavily.


FINESSIN… DeAndre McNeal got some early playing time in this one, lining up in Armanti Foreman’s spot the length of Texas’ second drive, which spanned 76 yards on eight plays. He didn’t get a pass thrown his direction but did an adequate enough job blocking on the outside.

Jacorey Warrick was also in on the drive and a few others in the first half.


HIS FINGERPRINTS ALL OVER THIS OFFENSE… For those wondering if Jeff Traylor has had any impact on Texas’ offense since Jay Norvell took over play-calling duties, take a look at this tweet I received from Cedar Hill head coach Joey McGuire during the game:


GETTING GRAY GOING EARLY… How about that? The Longhorns made a conscious effort to get senior running back Johnathan Gray involved early on, and it seemd to pay off.

Gray lined up as a wide receiver on Texas’ very first play and Cal’s defense seemed to write him off as a viable option as he was left wide open for a 20-yard gain. He carried the ball on the very next play for five yards.

By the time the half ended, Gray had nine touches for 40 yards and two receptions for 48 yards. He had eight carries for 40 yards in the game against Notre Dame and eight carries for a net of eight yards against Rice.

Gray did get stopped on a pitch to the right side on a 4th-and-inches on Texas’ first drive. But I wasn’t sold on that play call from the jump or the fact that Heard lined up under center and not in the shotgun.


DERICK ROBERSON… was in on Cal’s second possession and played sparingly throughout. He didn’t do much but was on the field.


MARCUS JOHNSON…  dressed out but didn’t play. His ankle must be worse than we thought. We will keep you posted on his status for next week.


SACK’EM ALREADY... Texas didn’t have nearly the amount of missed sack opportunities it did against Rice, when Strong thought his guys had at least eight of them.

But one of the very few UT did have was really costly. It came when Hassan Ridgeway had Jared Goff in his grasp but couldn’t quite get enough of Cal’s QB, who spun away, rolled left and found Maurice Harris for a 6-yard TD to start the scoring for both teams.


DEALIN’… You’ve got to give it to Daje Johnson.

He had three catches for 108 yards in the first half.



John Burt has proven time and time again that he can get the job done on the outside, especially in man coverage. So why isn’t Texas using him more?

Burt made a seasoned move on a deep ball in the second half, adjusting to an underthrown ball in the air to set Texas up at the Cal 6 late in the second quarter. UT would score two plays later.

That was one of only two catches in the first half. I don’t recall him dropping a pass either.


BAD CALL… Terrible, terrible, terrible “hands to the face” call on Malik Jefferson midway through the third quarter.

Cal was facing a 3rd-and-long from near midfield when Jefferson came on a blitz and jumped in the air on a Goff incompletion. Somewhere during that time a Cal offensive linemen’s helmet came off, which is where the penalty came in.

I could only see the replay once in the press box but it didn’t look like Jefferson did much of anything.

The normally even-keeled Jefferson was as peeved after that call as I’d ever seen.


SHIRO SIGHTING…. It’s been a while but Shiro Davis came up huge late in the second quarter, blowing by Cal’s left tackle on his way to a bruising sack of Goff, who fumbled. Tank Jackson scooped it up and returned it to the Bears 6.

Shiro also made a nice play from the weakside to catch a Cal RB for a three-yard loss. But those plays were few and far between for him and the entire defensive line.


WHY NOT GIVE… Jake Raulerson a shot at center? I just haven’t seen enough from Taylor Doyle at center to suggest Raulerson shouldn’t at least get a look there. I thought Doyle had one of his worst games against Cal. Granted the Bears had some studs line up across him, but he has to be better than he was.


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THIRD DOWN DEFENSE WAS A TAD BETTER… Not great by any means (Cal was 5-of-12) but Texas gave up two crucial fourth down conversions that it could not afford.

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