Upon review, three of the five Rice drives extended by Texas in the first game were the result of penalties, one of them a particularly egregious error by Kheeston Randall grabbing an opponent's facemask and giving new life to a BYU drive all but finished looking at a third and extremely long. In all, three penalties extended drives, with the three procedural penalties against the offense making things more difficult for a unit attempting to find a rhythm early in the growth process.
So while the Longhorns corrected a handful of mistakes that had kept the team from more completely dismantling the Owls, there were several more instances on Saturday where Texas mishaps either killed offensive possessions or extended BYU drives, exactly the type of repeated mistakes the coaching staff wants to eliminate and exactly the type of mistakes that defined the disastrous 2010 season when the Longhorns finished 60th in penalties committed overall, 64th in overall penalty yardage, and 76th in the country in penalty yardage per game.
Of course, looking at raw penalties per season doesn't necessarily correlate with success, as Auburn finished 75th in total penalties last season and Oregon 102nd. Moreover, such a superficial analysis fails to analyze the situations and yardage related to each penalty -- not all penalties are created equal either in yardage or impact -- but for a team like the 2011 Texas Longhorns still searching for explosive plays on offense and big-time turnovers on defense, the margin of error is so significantly diminished that the penalties become magnified to a much larger degree.
Follow after the jump for a look at each of the eight Texas penalties committed against BYU.
1st Quarter, Second Texas Possession
3rd and 8, Texas 22 -- False start by David Snow
2nd Quarter, Fourth BYU Possession
1st and 10, Texas 40 -- Offsides penalty on Jordan Hicks
Result -- Completed pass on the following play for a first down on the drive that resulted in the lone BYU touchdown.
2nd Quarter, Fifth Offensive Possession
2nd and 9, Texas 16 -- False start by Trey Hopkins
Result -- After only a one-yard gain on the first play of the drive, the penalty put Texas even further behind the chains, with a short pass and an incompletion leading to yet another three-and-out for the 'Horns.
2nd Quarter, Sixth Texas Possession
2nd and 10, Texas 29 -- Substitution infraction
Result: Instead of the subsequent completion to Darius White resulting in a manageable 3rd and 5, Case McCoy had to look further downfield on 3rd and 10 before scrambling for no gain.
2nd Quarter, Seventh BYU Possession
3rd and 9, BYU 26 -- Roughing the passer on Jackson Jeffcoat
Result -- Essentially nothing, as the Cougars had little time left on the clock and still faced a long field, but it's the type of play that loses football games and that can't be emphasized enough. As a supposedly heady player, these type of mental mistakes can't happen and have to be eliminated. What Texas is getting from Jackson Jeffcoat right now isn't good enough.
3rd Quarter, Ninth BYU Possession
1st and 10, BYU 41 -- Offsides penalty on Emmanuel Acho
Result: Eight-yard gain for Di Luigi on subsequent running play.
BYU 3rd and 3 at Texas 39 -- Offsides on Jackson Jeffcoat
Result: BYU didn't have to convert what would have been a difficult play for an offense struggling to run the ball and to pick up yardage with the preferred short passing game. Jeffcoat's penalty helped set up the two following plays that put the Cougars firmly in field-goal range, a significant moment in a game decided by field position and field goals.
4th Quarter, 11th Texas possession
3rd and 9, Texas 41 -- Illegal touching by Darius White
Result: Since White dropped the ball anyway, the penalty had essentially no impact, as the Longhorns had to punt regardless. However, the drops from White are becoming a problem and he needs to work on attacking to ball with his hands instead of letting it get into his stomach.
During the two crucial drives by Texas late in the game, the offense managed to avoid those negative penalties that will almost certainly kill drives, especially for a team struggling to find those big plays in the passing game. It's not really surprising to note that during the stretch when the Texas offense was playing at its highest level, it wasn't committing penalties. Also on the positive side, the offense avoided the procedural mistakes that resulted in three penalties against Rice.
On the other side of the equation, false starts represents a lack of mental focus, especially the false start from David Snow, who otherwise had a mediocre game and didn't have a defensive player lined up over him when he committed the penalty. Call it the Ghost of Kyle Hix.
Mental mistakes, especially those that extend drives or put the offense or defense in situations that are difficult to convert sap the confidence in teammates and erode team morale. Overall, those penalties have a deleterious impact on the team, a theory absolutely borne about by the consistent collapses last season. Putting the offense behind the chains or the opponent ahead of the chains is not winning football -- Texas needs to be more disciplined going forward or it could cost the team a close football game. The 'Horns were somewhat lucky BYU wasn't that game.