Here's what former Longhorns All-American and two-time Super Bowl champion Dan Neil liked and didn't like from Texas' win over KU

This season, here on HornsDigest.com former Texas All-American offensive lineman DAN NEIL, a two-time Super Bowl winner with the Denver Broncos (1997 & 1998) who opened holes for 2,000-yard rusher Terrell Davis, is breaking down film of Texas games and telling you what he sees. Catch Dan on “Upon Further Review” on the Longhorn Network on Mondays at 6 pm CT.

It is always tough playing a team that is 0-8. 

Anything that team has to lose has already been lost, and they are going to unload everything in their playbook. 

Before the game even starts, the odds makers expect you to win by 29.  I never liked it when we were playing a terrible team to a half empty stadium. 

These are the games that sometimes players don’t get excited about, and you lay an egg.  Remember, I was on the 1994 Texas team that lost to Rice.  I think we are the only living Longhorns to lose to Rice.  Everyone from the Texas team that lost to Rice before we did is probably dead!

After the Iowa State game, I felt that overlooking Rice was not going to be the problem.

I think the coaches addressed the effort against Iowa State this week.  I have a feeling the Texas team received the “playing for your job” speech this week.

It was a revolving door of players in the first half.  Usually, you do not see that until one team has the game in hand and starts substituting players.

What I saw Saturday was players competing for starting jobs while this game was still in question. 

In the third quarter, you saw the usual starters go in and play until the game was out of reach.

There were some positives and negatives Saturday night.

Positives:

I feel like this offense has finally found its identity.

What I want to see is a base formation of two split backs with the quarterback in shotgun. 

Variations of this should be the speed sweep and add an H-back or tight end to the formation.  That is what I want to see 80% of the time.  The other 20% can be one back with 4 wide. 

Usually you would want to see an offense spread everything out and throw the ball.  That is not what this offense can do.  Everything should be based off a run threat.  You always need a running back in the backfield to keep the defense honest.  Heard is not comfortable with a throwing formation like no backs and five wide.

Johnathan Gray is the best lead back - known in the old days as a fullback in an I formation with the QB under center.  Since no one gets under center these days the split back is the next best thing. 

When I was at Texas, we had two backs who rushed for more than 900 yards - Ricky Williams and Shon Mitchell.  We did this from a split back formation.  This is effective because both backs are a run threat, and the defense is not sure who will get the ball. 

I think both Gray and D'Onta Foreman can be run threats with Foreman being the go-to guy when Texas needs a yard.  This is because Foreman is the better back, and Gray is the better blocker. 

The other run threats are QB Jerrod Heard off the zone read and WR Daje Johnson on the speed sweep.  The defense will have to try to contain all of these, and we saw what it did to OU.

This has been something Texas has done the past few weeks and beat OU and KSU doing this.

What Texas has not been able to do is throw the ball.  Heard is effective at the deep ball.  This is one of the easiest throws a QB can make.  Just throw it up and let your guy run under it.  Saturday, we saw Heard throw the curl, slant and the out route off play-action.  These are throws that have been missing from the offense.

The other thing I saw was the re-emergence of DT Tank Jackson.  Not sure where he has been all year, but he showed up Saturday. 

He hustled and played hard the entire game.  If we can get both Jackson and DT Hassan Ridgeway to play that way for four quarters - at the same time - those two can shut down an entire offense by themselves.

One of the highest paid players in the NFL is the 3-technique defensive tackle.  These guys are hard to find and valuable.  They stop the run and sometimes can pressure the QB.  Texas has two great ones, and we just need them to play that way the rest of the season.

Negatives:

I honestly felt like Texas should have held KU to 0 yards rushing. 

This was a bad Kansas team, and the KU O-line might have been worse.  I understand Texas did what it takes to win, and KU did not exactly rush for 200 yards. But I was disappointed KU was able to rush for any yards.  Stopping the run is the top priority. And this defense is built to be great against the run. 

Ridgeway and Jackson should stop it by themselves.  Senior LB Peter Jinkens and freshman LB Malik Jefferson are both great linebackers. Sophomore S Jason Hall is better at tackling than he is in coverage.  KU should have rushed for 0 yards, and Texas allowed them to rush for 192 yards.

Heard struggles getting off his first read.  He looks at the first read, and if it's not there, he tucks it and runs.

His running ability is good enough that he has gotten Texas out of a few bad situations and has been dynamic. 

Texas needs him to be able to convert third downs with his arm.  At one point, it was third-and-3 and Heard tried to run it because Daje was covered.  He had an outlet in Foreman and never looked at him.  He tucked it and ran and was dropped for a loss. Fourth down.  We need to get Heard to work to his second and third reads.

I can’t say the KU game renewed my faith that this team will win two of the next three.  I can say Texas got better, and that's what I want to see.  I still have some of the same concerns I've had all year.

But I feel like this team can win two of the next three.  What they are going to have to do is win one on the road and that is something they have not done all year.  I just hope that road win is the last game of the year.


Horns Digest Top Stories