Offense: What A Difference Two Weeks Make

Technical analysis: a coach's look at the Longhorn offense in the North Carolina game:

Although I didn't have many irate thoughts after UT's opener vs. UNT, I was still a little worried about some things. Derrick Dockery was at the top of that list. However, I was extremely pleased with his effort and the effort of his coaches and teammates in Carolina. I slept a lot easier following the game in Chapel Hill, and for good reason…
  1. The Horns' prominent running play from two weeks ago (what I called the "G Lead") was only run once. It gained zero yards and it really hurt UT's chances of scoring in the red zone. For those of you following at home, it occurred with about 10:06 left in the first quarter. Taking the place of the "G Lead" was a much, much better play where the fullback lined up in a straight I formation instead of the offset I. And instead of leading up into the hole like in game one, the fullback ran a banana path (in towards the line then curving out) to block the DE. Against UNT, the pulling guard was responsible for the DE, so the fullback and OG just switched responsibilities vs. UNC. The play allows the guard to get up in the hole with his shoulders parallel. The OG hit the hole about as quick as the fullback did in week one, but the FB got to the DE much quicker. This adjustment allowed for a wider seam for Cedric Benson, and thus more yardage. The six times Texas ran the play with FB Matt Trissel, the Horns gained 24 yards and scored a touchdown. Kudos to Greg Davis for being flexible. I don't think we have seen the end of the "G Lead", though, because it is a pretty good play to the weakside from the offset I strong formation.
  2. More play-action passing. I think we are just beginning to see the blossoming of the UT offense. Not only does the threat of Benson running freeze the LBs, slow the pass rush, and make the DBs bite, it also doesn't require Chris Simms to look off the route (which he did a great job of on Saturday night). The safety is already out of position many times. The touchdown to Ivan Williams was a great mismatch. If Ivan can continue to improve his blocking, he could become a threat at the FB position, and UT hasn't had a FB threat in a while.
  3. Mix of strongside/weakside plays. I don't want to give the appearance of being a Greg Davis "cultist", but I was impressed with the combination of strongside/weakside plays. Every time UNC overloaded the strong side, the Horns had a counter play for it. A lot of praise should also be given to Chris Simms for audible-ing to the right play.
  4. More continuity. In what was a glorified scrimmage against UNT, Texas tried a lot of combinations of players on the offensive line and at fullback. What resulted was a bunch of players out of synch with each other. Many of the experiments were over Saturday night. FB Will Matthews spent more time on the sideline. RT Alfio Randall-Veasey didn't see the field in crunch time. And C Will Allen didn't get to play a whole lot. With all of the starters played almost the entire game, it was a much better display from the line than in week one. The communication was better, and the offense as a whole was much, much better.
  5. Ivan Williams blocking. Ivan Williams had worked his way to the practice squad with his blocking. I was curious to see how he would block after given the chance to shine on the touchdown play, but I was impressed with the effort, which I thought was his biggest obstacle last week. However, he was only in on a handful of plays, so the jury is still out.
  6. Running many plays out of one formation. This might have been the part of the game that made me smile the most. On several drives, Greg Davis called the same formation over and over. However, you seldom saw the same play twice. That makes it tougher for opposing defensive staffs to read and key on tendencies. Two of the formations the Horns ran repeatedly were the double-tight one back set and the pro twins one back (TE/flanker with twins opposite) set.
  7. The play of Beau Baker and Derrick Dockery. After a dismal first half against UNT, Baker has come on strong and played well. Also, RT Dockery did a much better job on run blocking vs. Carolina, possibly setting up a tackle controversy when RT Jonathan Scott comes back from his injury.

Ok, ok, I have to temper all of the enthusiasm. There are some things that UT needs to work on...

  1. Although Texas did a much better job of mixing it up offensively, the coaches can still do a better job with tendencies. The Horns need another play or two out of the straight I (I'm not saying those plays are not in the playbook; I imagine they are, but they need to be used) and Ivan Williams' blocking must improve to the point that he is not an easy key when he comes in while the game is on the line.
  2. Jason Glynn can't reach a nose to the side of his snapping hand right now. Therefore, the coaches have three choices: 1) Teach him how, 2) Don't call plays that require that from him, or 3) Teach him to be ambidextrous. Obviously, the first option is the best alternative. For those of you who haven't played center, the reach block to the snapping hand side is the toughest line block in all of football. Try it in the living room sometime…it's not easy.
  3. Getting Chance Mock in the game sooner. I really thought that he could have come in at 38-21, and handed the ball off while Benson and the starters on the OL were still in.

Overall, though, it was a great game by the UT offense.

Mark Kissinger has coached high school football in Texas and Tennessee, coaching OL, TE, WR, DT, DE, and serving as both an offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator. In high school, he was coached by the legendary G.A. Moore. Mark recently retired from coaching and received his M.B.A. from Rice University. His 'Technical Analysis' column will appear each week on InsideTexas.com.


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