Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE
Yes, the Texas vs. Kansas game was ugly and maddening. But there were a few glimmers of hope you can cling to through the rest of season. Silver linings, Inside the Numbers has them.
The Texas vs. Kansas game was a story of playing uninspired. I could count the players and coaches that looked like the came ready to play on one hand. The 11am, poor performance on the road is just another data point in this era of Texas football. But you didn't come here for the emotions, you come to Inside the Numbers for the cold, raw data. And while there were plenty of sore spots in the Texas performance, there were a few things you could look to and feel something resembling optimism about the rest of the season.
18 - 111 (6.2): Johnathan Gray rushing attempts - rushing yards (yards per carry)
Johnathan Gray paid instant dividends on his first career start with a 31 yard carry to set Texas up in the red zone on its first drive (a set up which led to another Joe Bergeron TD steal). Gray took advantage of the start and the continued absence of Malcolm Brown to pace the Texas rushing attack, which finished with 35 carries for 211 yards (6.0 yards per rush). Don't look now, but Gray's 81 rushes for 424 yards are now second on the team and only 26 yards behind Joe Bergeron.
5 - 42.6, 3: Alex King punts - yards per punt, punts inside the 20
Saturday's head-scratcher in Lawrence felt all kinds of flashback to 2010, with Alex King playing the part of Justin Tucker as potential offensive MVP. With 5 of the 11 Texas drives ending in punts, Alex King did his best to put the Kansas offense in as difficult a position as possible, averaging over 40 yards a punt, with three of the kicks going inside the 20, including a 50 yarder downed at the KU 5 yardline and a 49 yarder downed at the KU 2 yardline. While King hasn't had many opportunities this season, he has made the most of them. The Duke transfer has been a major bonus to the Texas special teams.
5 - 69 - 1, 13.8: Marquise Goodwin, Daje Johnson, and DJ Monroe combined touches - yards - TDs, average yards per touch
A week after "figuring it out" and getting the ball to the Texas trio of guys-that-run-very-fast to the tune of 15 touches for 152 yards and a TD, Bryan Harsin failed to get the three fastest weapons on the Texas offense the ball. Whether the poor effort by the Texas offense is caused by the lack of touches for these players, or they just don't get the ball when the offense isn't working, is anybody's guess. What we can note, is that the offense got the ball to Daje Johnson twice through the first three quarters for only 6 yards. On the first drive of the fourth quarter, Bryan Harsin apparently remembered the jet sweep game has been dangerous for the Texas offense, and involved DJ Monroe and Marquise Goodwin on 3 carries to the edge for 63 yards, including Marquise Goodwin's 41 yard carry and 11 yard TD run. That 4th quarter drive was 7 runs for 84 yards and tied the game at 14. Just about all of the mouth-breathing mass media will cite one cause for the offense's 4th quarter revival, but involving the Texas speedsters on the edge was the spark the offense needed all game. Harsin has already drawn up an 80 yard jet sweep to Daje Johnson to open up the game in Lubbock.
13 (11) - 1 - 1: Alex Okafor tackles (solo) - tackles for loss - forced fumbles
Alex Okafor continues to step up as a leader of the Texas defense in Jackson Jeffcoat's absence. This week was 13 tackles, 11 solo (both led the team), 1 of the team's 8 tackles for loss, and 1 of the team's 2 forced fumbles. Kenny Vaccaro, not to be left behind by his fellow senior, contributed 10 tackles, 7 solo, and a tackle for loss. He also claimed Alex Okafor's forced fumble on Twitter. I'll go back to watch the tape before making a ruling.
3 - 5 (3, 0): Texas offense red zone scores - red zone attempts (TDs, FGs)
The Texas offense failed to score on two separate occasions in the red zone, after only failing on three attempts through 7 games. The failures, one a frustrating INT on a tipped screen ball at the KU 9 yard line and the other an embarrassing goal line stop at the KU 1 yard line, moved Texas all the way down to 26th nationally in scoring percentage and 5th in the conference. The TD percentage moved to 3rd nationally after converting 3 of the 5 opportunities into TDs, now scoring 33 TDs on 41 attempts on the season.
4 - 12: Texas 3rd down conversions - attempts
The vaunted Texas third down offense forgot to make the trip to Lawrence, converting only a third of the opportunities and dropping the season average to 54.04% (7th in the country). Particularly dreadful were the 1 of 5 attempts in the first half, with only the 3rd down TD run by Joe Bergeron being converted. The other first half attempts? A 3rd and 18 draw coming up short (following a Luke Poehlmann hold derailing the drive), a 3rd and 17 screen coming up short (following a 7 yard sack taken by David Ash), a 3rd and 5 incompletion to Marquise Goodwin, and a 3rd and 5 incompletion to Jeremy Hills. Speaking of David Ash's rough day...
8 - 16, 63, 0 - 2: David Ash completions - attempts, passing yards, passing TDs - INTs
David Ash had his worst game of the season, and maybe of his young career. Maybe he had an off day, maybe the cold bothered him, maybe he's playing through injury, or maybe it was a mix of a few of those. What concerns me is that brace he wore for the first time on his right knee, which could explain the lack of control on the deep throws he had during the game. The confusing thing was just how off he was on his screen passes, considering how sharp he had been on those throws all season long. Just an odd performance from Texas's starting QB. As an aside: I won't be entertaining QB controversies or cries for a replacement here. Texas has their starting QB, and unless that knee is worse than it appears, that isn't changing. Take your QB controversy elsewhere.
5 - 7, 68, 1 - 0: Case McCoy completions - attempts, passing yards, passing TDs - INTs
Props to Case McCoy for stepping up and doing enough on Texas's final drive to complete a comeback. After starting a rough 0 -2, including a throw so bad that it couldn't even be intercepted, McCoy went 5-5, including an 18 yard strike over the middle to Jaxon Shipley on 4th down (McCoy makes his living over the middle, rightfully), an impressive 39 yard toss to Mike Davis down he left sideline (his most impressive throw of the drive, in my opinion), and the 1 yard lob to DJ Grant in the corner of the end zone for the game winning TD. It was only a matter of time before McCoy got his opportunity, and he answered enough to win the game.
6 - 66: Jaxon Shipley catches - yards
Welcome back, Jaxon Shipley. After being largely absent in Texas's last two games, Shipley was back and the most consistent weapon of the Texas passing attack, especially early for David Ash. His biggest moment came on McCoy's 4th down conversion, where Shipley opened up over the middle for 18. Shipley will have his biggest impact in games the offense has a tougher time moving the ball because he is the most consistent target. I expect him to have a big game against Texas Tech next week.
33 - 178 (5.39) vs. 23 - 56 (2.43): Texas rush defense 1st half vs. 2nd half
If you all come to Inside the Numbers for a little bit of hope, then you're in the right place. The Texas run defense was night and day in the first and second half. The first half featured a 33 carry for 178 yard outing by Kansas (5.39 yards per carry), including James Sims 14 carries for 140 yards (10 yards per carry). Another ho-hum, All-American crowning effort by the Texas run D. But in the second half, Texas held Kansas to 56 yards on 23 carries (2.43 yards per carry). Particularly afflicted was James Sims, who was held to only 36 yards on another 14 carries (2.57 yards per carry). That's cutting the team production in half and slowing its leading rushing to a fourth of his first half production. Did the Texas defense wear out the Kansas offense? Did Manny Diaz have a magical play-call light come on? Did somebody else call the defense over the back-stretch? Did the Texas linebackers mature over halftime? I don't know, I'm just here for the numbers, and the numbers say the defense was far and away better in that second half. Whatever happened, do more of it, please.