Improvement? Yes, But More to Go

Technical analysis: a coach's look at the Longhorns' offensive performance in the Nebraska game:

The Texas Longhorns have accomplished a lot recently. They have had long, time-eating drives without scoring points (K-State). They have had long, time-eating scoring drives in a stadium where no other team has won since 1991. They have had to contain some of the top offensive running quarterbacks in the country for the last three weeks. They are fourth in the BCS standings, and are within one loss by two of three teams (Miami, OU, and Ohio St.) of reaching the Fiesta Bowl. Chris Simms had his best game as a collegian Saturday, and Cedric Benson had one of his best performances ever two weeks ago. Things are going good.

But they could still be better.

I liked a lot of the things I saw in the Nebraska game. I liked the fact that the Longhorns went on a 17-play drive to score after Nebraska had just taken the lead. I liked the way Simms threw the ball (except for the out to Brock Edwards in the endzone that should have been picked).

I liked the way Greg Davis finally justified inserting Ivan Williams into the lineup (besides injury). Ivan Williams is one of the most athletic players on the team. The problem is that he was not a very good blocker for a lot of the season, and when you play fullback for Texas, you need to be a good blocker. I never would have had any qualms with Davis putting Ivan at fullback and using him exactly as he did Saturday night: a pro-style fullback that is block first, catch second (instead of block first, second, third, etc.).

I think the play calling could be improved in a few areas. Jason Glynn had his worst night blocking as a football player Saturday night. I don't think he would argue that, and I think he probably would have told you it was going to be tough before the game. Nebraska's defensive line, although decimated at the end position, is still strong in the middle and quick. Also, the linebackers constantly blitz from several different angles. Am I trying to make excuses for Glynn? Well, maybe. However, I think some things could have been done to help. I am going to make this next sentence its own paragraph so Greg Davis can read it easier….

Coach Davis, Jason Glynn cannot reach a two or three technique on his snapping hand side, and he will never be able to do so.

P.S. Especially don't ask him to do it on second-and-goal from the 5.

I feel so much better after having said that. I still don't understand how you take your arguably weakest lineman and ask him to do things that only the most elite offensive linemen can do. Maybe it's not Greg Davis' doing. Maybe Derrick Dockery didn't get the idea that he should help before releasing to the linebacker. Maybe Davis should have learned this lesson during the North Texas game when it was unsuccessful. Anyway, get Glynn some help on tough defensive tackles.

The next problem I had with the play calling was the predictability of each sequence. I know many have harped on this throughout the months and years, but this game was especially bad in the first half. When a team is loading the box and you have Roy Williams on a freshman, out-manned DB, throw the ball. I don't care if it is first down.

Also, why not go deep on first and second downs when little yardage is needed? For example, at the start of the second quarter, Texas gets a first and 5 in Nebraska territory. Why not go for the big downfield throw on this play? What's the worst that could happen? It falls incomplete, and it is the same as Cedric running for five yards on first down. No, UT runs the ball to Benson for 3 yards, bringing up second and 2. This is another great situation to throw the ball downfield. Instead, the Horns run the zone play to Ced for two yards and the first down. It gets better…what were the next two plays? Downfield throws to Roy and B.J. Johnson. Why weren't they thrown two plays earlier?

Maybe my nerves are just a little raw from the close game. Maybe I should cut the team some slack. However, I feel I need to balance out all of the good vibes I was sending about the offense before the OU game. I was very proud of the way the team marched down the field when they had to. I was proud of the way Ivan Williams played football Saturday night. I was proud of the character these players have shown over the last few weeks. I'm proud to be a Longhorn fan right now. I still think they will be in the Fiesta Bowl (somehow), but to do so, and have a good chance of winning, improvement is still needed.

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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