CU game notes and analysis: offense

Notes and analysis on the Horns' offensive performance in their 41-7 win over Colorado:

It didn't take long for Greg Davis to tap into his "trick" play reserve against the Buffaloes. On the Horns' third offensive play from scrimmage, B.J. Johnson took an end around 35 yards to the CU 13, setting up a Chris Simms-to-Roy Williams TD pass four plays later. Davis also dusted off the shovel pass, continued to throw in an occasional play action fake call and, as a change-up, the quick handoff to Tony Jeffery, rolled Simms opposite the play fakes, sent Roy on fades, and even faked several end arounds. In other words, the offensive coordinator used the weapons at his disposal in more varied and imaginative ways than at almost any time in the past. The offense was by no means perfect (which should be a sobering thought to opposing D-coordinators and a hopeful sign to Orangebloods of what could be to come), but remember, the Colorado defense came in allowing only 289.3 per game. Texas totaled 425. The Buff D had been particularly stingy on the ground, surrendering just 91.8 per game. UT's ground attack netted 161 yards. The CU secondary had nine INTs in its first six games. The Longhorn QBs threw none. Kudos to the offensive staff for consecutive weeks of solid performances, both from a gameplan and execution perspective. Now, let's see spectacular.

In his second straight start, Cedric Benson reached the 100-yard plateau for the second consecutive game. The true freshman tailback upped his season rushing total to 417 yards, still 573 yards from Ricky Williams' freshman rushing record of 990 with just four regular season games left to play. Benson would need to average 144 yards per game to break the record. Despite the tall order, don't discount his chances. "In high school I basically ran left and ran right," he said post-game Saturday. "I'm learning how to pass block, how to fake better, how to run better routes. I'm learning every day in practice and every moment I'm in (Moncrief-Neuhaus). Someday I'll have two- or three-hundred-yard games. There's nothing a little hard work can't accomplish." Don't you just love this kid's attitude? Would it be a surprise if he hit the 200- or even the 300-yard mark in a game this fall? Not really. His longest run against Colorado was a mere 14 yards. In both of the last two games he's been a tackle away on a couple of plays from busting a really big one and it's just a matter of time until he does just that. Tack a 40-, 50- or 60-yarder onto his total in each of the last two games and he's approaching that 200-yard game. My bet is it's just a matter of time.

Against the Buffs, Benson had TD runs of 12 and four yards, plus three receptions (two of them shovel passes) for 59 yards including the momentum changing 40-yarder on the Horns' late second quarter scoring drive. A fumble (on Major Applewhite's first play of the game at QB that the freshman RB recovered himself) was the only blemish on Benson's otherwise standout day. He also fumbled on another play that was nullified because of an offsides penalty on Colorado. It's too early to declare it a trend, but with Benson coughing the ball up three times (two officially) in two games, fumbling could replace pass blocking as a legitimate concern when the true freshman is in the game.

On its opening offensive possession, the Texas offense worked exclusively out of two-back sets. Benson carried four times for 15 yards on the seven play, 60-yard drive. On the drive, along with Benson's runs, the B.J. end around described earlier and Roy's TD catch, Bo Scaife caught his one and only pass of the day, a seven-yarder for a first down on the play before B.J.'s 35-yard scamper. The three-yard TD pass to Roy came off a play action fake to Benson running right followed by a roll left by Simms who then hit his sophomore wide receiver at the left sideline of the end zone. Williams finished with four catches for 45 yards.

Simms misfired just a few times on the day, throwing behind his receivers a couple of times (including on the Horns' three-and-out second offensive series), but he did not have any near INTs (or actual INTs, for that matter) for the first time all season. He completed 17 of 28 passes for 234 yards and three TDs. For the season, Simms has completed 134 of 229 attempts (58.5-percent) for 1,551 yards, 14 TDs and seven INTs. The junior QB is fourth (but climbing) on the Big 12 QB efficiency chart at 129.5, behind Eric Crouch (143.7), Iowa State's Seneca Wallace (134.9) and OU's Jason White (133.5).

After sticking with two-backs sets for the majority of four of its first five drives, the Texas offense went with three-, four- or five-wide sets until the game was well in hand early in the fourth quarter. Before sending in the second-teamers early in the fourth quarter, the Horns scored 17 points on their five mainly two-back set drives and 24 points on their seven three-plus-wideout set possessions.

Sloan Thomas led the team in receiving yards for the second consecutive week, totaling 63 yards on his three catches. Through seven games, Williams leads the team with 407 yards on 37 catches, followed by Johnson with 345 yards on 28 catches, Thomas with 244 yards on 17 catches and Scaife with 205 yards on 17 catches. Sloan and Roy each have four TD receptions for the season, with all four of Sloan's coming in the last two games.

Can I get a Hallelujah from the Burnt Orange congregation? Third-team QB Chance Mock finally got a few snaps Saturday. Unfortunately, it took till game seven, and the Horns' sixth blowout win of the season, for the redshirt freshman to see his first complete series. Once in the game, after three consecutive handoffs, Mock took off on a couple of keepers on the final two plays before the clock ticked to zero, gaining nine and then one yard. It's not Mock's running, though, that needs work, it's his passing. Despite arguably the strongest arm on the team, Mock has yet to combine that strength with accuracy, nor has he seemingly broken out of his run-first mentality that was so evident throughout both spring practice and two-a-days. With the pass-catching talent in the Orange and White, the Texas QB, whoever he is, must look first for the throw. If the defense denies that No. 1 option, then by all means run. Mock certainly has the ability to do just that, and do it successfully, but let's see a few game situation passes from The Woodlands native. The game against Colorado was another wasted opportunity in that area. Applewhite spent two series under center before Mock entered the game with just over three minutes to play. The senior QB aired it out four times on his last series, four throws that could have and probably should have gone to Mock.


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