Anatomy of Success: Second Drive Against ULM

Note: This feature will normally run earlier in the week, but since I don't have a DVR right now, I may have to wait until someone uploads the game to complete it. Also, since the Longhorns call Dan Buckner's position in the offense a flex tight end, I'm going to consider him as a tight end when I mention the personnel. In other words, when Buckner is in the flex with a running back on the field, I will call it 11 personnel/flex.

Context

After Sam Acho recovered WarHawk quarterback Trey Revell's fumble on Louisiana-Monroe's second play from scrimmage, the Longhorns took advantage of the short field and drove 23 yards in four plays for the touchdown, scoring on Cody Johnson's one-yard plunge behind Lamarr Houston's crunching block on the right side of the Texas line. ULM's second drive started out with promise, as Revell completed a nine-yard pass to tight end Alvin Jordan, but running back Frank Goodin lost a yard on the next play and Revell's third-down pass fell incomplete as the Texas defense forced a three-and-out to get the Longhorns the ball back. Earl Thomas called for a fair catch on the 39-yard punt by Scott Love.

1st and 10 on Texas 36

On the first play of the second drive of the season, the Longhorns go empty in 11 personnel/flex with John Chiles split out wide at the top of the screen next to Jordan Shipley, with Dan Buckner in the flex, James Kirkendoll in the sub-b position and Vondrell McGee split wide at the bottom of the screen. With only one cornerback covering the pair of Shipley and Chiles, McCoy throws a screen pass to Chiles as Shipley blocked the cornerback lined up in front of Chiles at the snap. The weakside linebacker would have made the play if not for David Snow's athletic block in space to free for a seven-yard gain.

2rd and 3 on Texas 43

Much like they did last year against Ohio State with great success, the Longhorns move into their up-tempo, no-huddle offense with Colt McCoy under center. Snapping the ball within seconds of placement and around ten seconds after the completion of the previous play, McCoy hands off to McGee, who runs behind the right side of the Texas line for a nice six-yard gain. Even though they went under center for the play, it looked like the Longhorns were still zone blocking.

1st and 10 on Texas 49

Still running the no-huddle to keep ULM from substituting, the Longhorns line up in a clear pass set with McGee in the backfield next to McCoy. Rolling the pocket to the left, McCoy throws to Chiles running a hitch, but McCoy's pass falls a little short and Chiles can't come up with the catch. A definite sign of McCoy not quite being in mid-season form at the start of the game -- it was an easy pass to deliver as Chiles did a good job of running the cornerback off the route and it was a pass that McCoy could normally complete with his eyes closed.

2nd and 10 on Texas 49

The Longhorns stay in the no-huddle, but take their time getting the play from the sidelines, staying in 11 personnel/flex. After pausing to let the routes by the wide receivers clear out the linebackers in the middle of the field, Buckner slips into the vacated soft middle of the WarHawk defense as the check-down receiver and McCoy finds him after going through his reads for an 11-yard gain.

1st and 10 on ULM 40

Just like they did after the first completed pass of the drive, the Longhorns get to the line of scrimmage with more alacrity than the last several plays, lining up under center and creating a big hole up the middle for Vondrell McGee, who picks up seven yards on a nice block by Chris Hall as the center drove the WarHawk defender five yards down field.

2nd and 3 on ULM 33

McCoy lines up quickly under center again as Texas picks up the pace, almost catching Louisiana-Monroe with an extra player on the field as they tried to substitute. The handoff goes to McGee, who takes it right side once again past a penetrating WarHawk defender who shot a gap past Chris Hall into the backfield for a five-yard gain after the ULM defensive line wasn't quite set at the snap.

1st and 10 on ULM 28

Once again keeping up the pace, the Longhorns catch the producers for FSN napping, as the Longhorns snap the ball with the camera somewhere else, making it difficult to tell what formation Texas uses for the play. It did appear that McGee split out wide after the previous play, so the Longhorns were probably in an empty set. Moving the pocket left once again to combat any blitz by ULM, McCoy finds Shipley across the middle of the field throwing back across the grain a little bit on the move, a relatively difficult throw, but one that McCoy makes with ease. Shipley picks up 23 yards.

1st and goal on ULM 5

Inside the ten yardline, the Longhorns substitute for the first time, with Cody Johnson and Greg Smith entering the game for the first "pure" 11 personnel of the night. McCoy lines up in the shotgun with Johnson on his left. Johnson takes the counter hand off left side past Adam Ulatoski and Snow, who both end up on the ground, but Johnson manages to muscle his way down to the two yardline.

2nd and goal on ULM 2

Once again, Texas goes quickly to the line of scrimmage and lines up under center for a running play to Johnson again, who tried to go right up the middle even though it appeared he had more of a crease further right for a minimal gain. Something of a disappointing gain considering that the Longhorns caught the ULM line once again before they were completely set, but still generally failed to move the line of scrimmage.

3rd and goal on ULM 1

For the first time in the drive, the Colt McCoy calls for a huddle as the Jumbo package comes onto the field -- Lamarr Houston as the fullback, Antwan Cobb as the mover, and Ahmard Howard and Greg Smith as the two tight ends on the field. Following Cobb and Houston to the right side once again, Johnson finds the end zone, but not with the same ease as on the first drive of the game, as the two lead blockers did not have the same level of success as the first touchdown run. However, Johnson did manage to have to power to make it into the end zone.

Final totals

Ten plays for 64 in 2:26 seconds. Colt McCoy went 3-4 for 41 yards on the drive, with the lone incomplete pass the poor throw to Chiles that would have gained about four yards or so, possibly more if McCoy hit him in the chest and allowed Chiles to make a defender miss. Vondrell McGee had a nice drive, carrying the ball three times for 18 yards, each run either up the middle or to the right side of the line. Cody Johnson finished the drive with three carries for five yards and the touchdown. The final dive across the goalline by Johnson converted the only third down the Longhorns faced on the drive. Starting out the drive in 11 personnel with Dan Buckner as the flex tight end and Shipley, James Kirkendoll and Chiles as the receiver, Texas ran the first nine plays no-huddle, only substituting when reaching the five yardline by bringing in Smith and Johnson, the Longhorns finished, as they will many times this season, with the Jumbo package at the goalline.

Verdict

The drive, even though it came against an overmatched opponent, illustrated several things that the Longhorns will seek to do this season. Most obviously, they will accelerate the tempo at times in an effort to wear out the defense. Judging by the success of the drive, it's probably safe to say that the WarHawk defenders got a little winded a couple times and Texas almost caught them trying to substitute, a dangerous proposition against the no-huddle. The drive also revealed what I think will become some tendencies during the season -- when the Longhorns completed a pass, each time they got up to the line of scrimmage quickly, went under center, and then ran the football. Expect to see a lot of that this season.

Furthermore, the successful running came to the right side of the field, behind David Snow and Kyle Hix, perhaps the best run blockers on the offensive line for Texas. Both scoring runs by Johnson came running right, as did two of McGee's three runs on the drive. When the Longhorns run right, expect more counter plays that utilize the pulling right guard -- for the next several weeks that will primarily be David Snow. This will be something that we will try to track throughout the season, but right now, judging from the play-calling, Greg Davis feels much more comfortable running to the right side than he does to the left side behind Adam Ulatoski and Charlie Tanner, who are probably weaker in the running game.

Besides noting the incomplete pass from McCoy and the fact that he wasn't quite in rhythm during parts of the first half, McCoy did throw the ball twice when moving left. If Greg Davis feels like the Longhorns will see a lot of blitz this season, he will move the pocket at times to allow McCoy a chance to throw the ball, which he proved he can do equally well moving right or left with the accurate pass to Shipley on the move. Moving the pocket might also be a little bit of a commentary on the pass blocking of Kyle Hix. Though the junior is expected to move to the left side next season to replace Ulatoski, Davis might not feel as comfortable right now with his pass blocking. Hix did, however, have an excellent day run blocking for the Longhorns, further illustrated by Davis' desire to run the ball right.

Overall, this drive provided an excellent look at the relatively new, up-tempo Longhorn offense that fans can expect to see at least once every game and any other time Greg Davis feels the offense is stagnating and needs a little jolt. So far, so good.

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