There wasn't much good that came out of Texas' 24-0 loss to Iowa State, but plenty of bad and ugly

Guess which of the three had the most to talk about?

THE GOOD

 

William Wilkerson, Scout.com

Longhorns punter Michael Dickson – He was a busy man tonight, and made the most of his opportunities. He averaged 45.8 yards on his nine punts with a long of 57, and dropped three of them inside the 20.

Dickson also made a nice head-on tackle to save an already big punt return from possibly going the distance. Hey, it’s the small things in losses like this right?

 

Peter Jinkens continued his strong play – Jinkens, who came in as Texas’ leading tackler, again led UT with nine tackles – six solo, which included two sacks.

It’s hard to say that a player in the teeth of a defense that gave up 238 rushing yards played well, but Jinkens, by and large, did.

 

Davante Davis - This was without question Davis’ best game as a Longhorn.

The soft-spoken freshman started opposite fellow freshman Holton Hill and would have had to be considered one of UT’s bright spots in an otherwise miserable first half.

Davis got tested quite a bit – teams aren’t throwing at Holton Hill all that often – and stood his ground for the most part. He made a few shoe-strong tackles but also lit some Cyclones up, twice jarring the ball loose to cause incompletions from ISU WRs.

He did draw two pass interference penalties [second one was very, very questionable] but, aside from that, play solid ball. He was definitely a bright spot.  

 

The “18 Wheeler” Package – All things considered, this was one of the few things that actually helped Texas move the ball. The issue was the Longhorns didn’t use it that much.

The Longhorns didn’t call on Swoopes until their first drive of the second quarter and Swoopes proceeded to pick up two first downs with his feet [stayed in after converting a 3rd-and-2]. The drive stalled when Jerrod Heard came in and was intercepted by Jordan Harris.

Swoopes’ 9-yard completion to John Burt on that drive, which moved the ball to the ISU 47, was the first time Texas reached the Cyclones’ side of the field until Swoopes led UT to the ISU 5 in the final seconds.

 

*****

 

THE BAD

 

USA Today

Longhorns inability to pressure Joel Lanning – Texas’ defensive front has been a dominant bunch the past two weeks, either accumulating sacks themselves or eating up blocks to allow others to pad their stats.

But tonight was a different story thanks in large part to the efforts of ISU’s offensive line and the mobility of Cyclones QB Joel Lanning.

Oh, and, Mike Warren, who blitzed UT for 157 yards on 32 carries and a touchdown.

Texas, I thought, was far too conservative early on and took way too long to apply a spy to Lanning after he’d found open field far too much early on.

The first time Texas went to the spy was on a third down with Malik Jefferson in the second quarter. What happened on that play? Bryce Cottrell caught Lanning from behind for a sack.

Hassan Ridgeway got dinged up and didn’t seem like himself.

It was just a bad day for Texas’ defensive front.

 

Offensive play calling – Where to begin? At the 8:18 mark of the fourth quarter, Texas has more 3-and-outs (8) than first downs (7).

Charlie Strong, Jay Norvell and Jerrod Heard in one way or another all said it wasn’t the play calling that hurt Texas on Saturday, but the execution. I don’t buy it.  

Why didn’t Texas go to the two-back set a lot earlier and a lot more often? The first time Texas went to the two-back set was not until the 12:22 mark of the second quarter, and Chris Warren got seven yards off of it with help from a lead block by Caleb Bluiett.

Speaking of Warren, he only got one other carry [3 yards]. But that’s a story for another time.

Where was the speed sweep motion? There was a ton of play-action available out of that last week.

Why not test ISU’s pass defense – which was eighth in the Big 12 coming in – deep with John Burt and Marcus Johnson. OK, I get that Texas did but not until the game was far out of reach.

There are so many questions about what Texas could have done, or why they didn’t at least try this or that it would take a lot longer to write.

 

*****

 

UGLY

 

Getty Images

Effort of the offensive line – I’m not calling out everyone across Texas’ line, but there are a certain few players – especially one – that just didn’t seem to bring the effort, and it played a big roll in ISU sacking Texas’ QBs six times.

I think it’s safe to say that Sedrick Flowers didn’t have his best game. In fact, I’d say it was easily one of his worst. That had to have played into why he was pulled late in the fourth when Texas moved Kent Perkins to left guard and slotted Tristan Nickelson at right tackle. I’m not sure if this will stick, but maybe it was the wakeup call Flowers needed?

 

QB play – You can’t place all the blame on Heard’s shoulders. That just wouldn’t be fair. But he does deserve a heavy dose of the responsibility for how Texas’ offense performed in Ames.

He was 6-of-9 for 26 yards and an interception, which came as he threw the ball down the sideline trying to make something happen on a third down when he would have been best served just dumping the ball out of bounds.

He seemed to be late on throws or just overall skiddish in the pocket, which is understandable given how much pressure he seemed to be under most of the night.

Heard said after the game that he has the confidence in himself to get the job done through the air, and I know that they spend a large chunk of time in practice working on their throwing game, which I’m told usually looks good.

It’s mind-boggling, though, that it doesn’t transfer over into games, in any form.

To Heard’s defense, it is hard to get into a rhythm down the field when your primary passing routes seem to be thrown down the line of scrimmage.

What was equally alarming tonight was Heard’s inability to get outside the pocket and make plays with his feet. I say that while understanding how much easier defenses have it when you are one dimensional, which I shutter to say Texas was as it averaged only 3.7 yards per carry on 32 rushing attempts.

But you’d still expect a gifted runner like he is to make a few plays with his feet like Joel Lanning, who struggled throwing the ball for most of the game, was able to do for ISU [13 rushes for a net of 64].

 

Texas’ passing attack – Iowa State’s pass defense is not good. The Cyclones came in eighth in the Big 12 in pass defense, giving up 278.1 passing yards per game.

Texas threw the ball a grand total of two times in the first quarter. The only one it completed was a swing pass to Daje Johnson for a three-yard loss.

Overall Texas was 12-of-22 for 85 yards, which means that Texas is 32 –of-58 for 247 yards and two interceptions over its last three games.

 

Run defense? Longhorns gave up a total of 202 rushing yards in the last two games. Iowa State had 238 on Saturday.

 

*****

 

QUESTIONS

 

Should Tyrone Swoopes start against Kansas? He wasn’t exactly lights out in his time not in the “18 Wheeler” Package. But it’s a question that Texas’ coaching staff has to consider, right?

 

Where is Armanti Foreman? Roderick Bernard got more touches than he did tonight for crying out loud.

 

Why not target John Burt down the field a lot earlier than Texas first did… in the third quarter? He’s bound to catch one of them or, at least, draw a pass interference penalty. Toss it up to No. 1 and let him do his thing.

 

Why didn’t Texas go to its two-back set more often? It’s worked when UT has gone to it. The Longhorns run better when they have a lead blocker. For the life of me I can’t figure out why they won’t make this a bigger part of their offense.

 

If D’Onta Foreman, who didn’t see his first carry until the third quarter, was good enough to play in the third quarter then surely he was ready to go in the first quarter, right?

 

*****

 

TIDBITS

 

Malik Jefferson gave all Longhorns fans a scare early on when he wasn’t on the sideline for the opening play. He ended up running out onto the sidelines a few plays later, quickly warmed himself up on the stationary bike and got into the game.

There has been some concern that Jefferson might be dealing with a knee injury, but that doesn’t appear to be the case from what I understand. He is wearing a thin brace on his right knee but is able to move just fine.

 

DeAndre McNeal did not travel with the team. The word I’m getting from a source is that it’s a sprained mid right foot. Timetable for his return is unknown at this time.

If you read my practice reports from earlier this week you’ll know that McNeal was in The Pit for most of the week after missing practice on Sunday.

McNeal tweeted this during the first quarter:

https://twitter.com/tbhmcNEal/status/660602122027700224

I asked Strong about this after the game and he basically said the same thing, that McNeal was dealing with an injury.

 

Kai Locksley didn’t travel with the team. I asked Strong about that to and he didn’t give a clear answer.

 

Duke Thomas took a knee to the helmet with 11:20 in the first quarter and was taken out of the game and evaluated for a head injury.  He returned with 5:43 left in the first quarter and played the rest of the game. He told me after the game he was OK.

 

Hassan Ridgeway injured on Joel Lanning18-yard third down run, which picked up a first down with around 3 minutes left in the first half. He walked off the field favoring his right ribs.  Came back a bit later and played fairly well. Sacked Lanning midway through the second quarter as ISU’s QB tried to escape the pocket.

 

Alex De La Torre injured on Swoopes run with 11:22 left in second quarter.

Roderick Bernard had seen action in six games for the Longhorns this season, but his catch on a flip pass to start the second half was his first touch of the season. It went for four yards.


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