For the second year in a row, Texas traveled to an old Big 12 North opponent at an odd start time and posted an absolutely confusing performance of sub-standard defense and confusing offense. And for the second year in a row, Case McCoy did Case McCoy things and led Texas to a come from behind win against what should have been an overmatched opponent.
45: Case McCoy pass attempts
I'll try not to pile on the guy: we know what he is and what he can do. But for whatever reason, the Texas offense felt it's best chance of winning was to let McCoy sling it around the yard for 45 of 74 offensive snaps. I couldn't help but be reminded of the 2010 road game against Kansas State, where Greg Davis's insistence on continued Garrett Gilbert passing got that team run out of Manhattan, despite the Wildcats horrid run defense that year (at least Davis wasn't neglecting 3 NFL running backs in the process). To McCoy's credit, he didn't commit a turnover despite the heavy work load, though the 5.42 yards per attempt aren't much to write home about.
The rationale given for the emphasis on the passing game given by HC Mack Brown was the Iowa State defense's success in stopping the Texas run. I find that interesting, so let's look at this by possession...
1st possession: Johnathan Gray picks up 4 yards on 2 carries, and the Texas drive continues on the first of many pass interference calls. On 2nd and 10, Johnathan Gray breaks open for 45 yards and a TD. Run game working there.
2nd possession: A 9 play, 36 yard drive starts with 4 straight McCoy passes, followed by a 5 yard Malcolm Brown run, then 4 more McCoy passes before stalling at the Iowa State 47 yard line. McCoy is 5-8 for 31 yards on the drive.
3rd possession: Following a Cedric Reed and Jackson Jeffcoat forced fumble/fumble recovery at the Iowa State 16 yard line, 2 John Gray rushes go for 4 yards before a 3rd down incompletion makes way for an Anthony Fera FG. 10-0 Texas.
4th possession: 2 McCoy completions move Texas to midfield, and a John Gray carry goes 8 yards. On 2nd and 2, McCoy loses 7 yards on a sack, before an incompletion on 3rd down ends the drive.
5th possession: After Iowa State ties the game at 10-10, a Texas 3 and out goes Gray for 2 yards, McCoy to Sanders for 6 yards, and John Gray loses 3 yards on 3rd down.
6th possession: Now trailing Iowa State 13-10 with :33 left in the half, Case McCoy leads a quick 9 play 75 yard drive capped in the 44 yard TD heave to John Harris. Given that the last run went for negative yards, and McCoy just went 75 yards in 33 seconds, this must be the time to abandon the run game.
First half: 11 carries by Gray and Brown accumulate 69 yards in the half. Meanwhile, McCoy goes 11-18 for 128 yards and a TD, with 7 yards lost to sacks. I don't know about you, but sounds like time to abandon the run with Texas ahead 17-13.
7th possession: A 9 play, 30 yard drive includes 2 John Gray rushes netting to 0 yards, a Case McCoy sack, 13 yards passing to Shipley and Sanders on 2 completions, and Daje Johnson picking up 18 yards on a screen. Nice to see him make an appearance. For the curious, the drive ends on John Gray lost yardage, a Case McCoy sack and 3rd down incompletion. It is likely here Mack Brown determines the run game is lost and it's time to sling it.
8th possession: 8 plays, 8 drop backs, 14 yards. 2-5 for 18 yards, and -4 yards on a sack. That's 10 straight drop backs.
9th possession: Now down 20-17, Texas chooses to start the drive with 5 more passes, going 3-4 for 28 yards (all targets to Mike Davis) and another incompletion being overruled by a holding penalty on Mason Walters. Then the pass interference based offense kicks in with back to back 15 yarders. Now we're moving, and in the midst of 17 straight drop backs. Then, divine intervention, Joe Bergeron threatens anarchy and gets 3 straight run calls for an authoritative 30 yards and a touchdown. With a 24-20 lead, the madness must be past us, right? No.
10th possession: I lose my feed here, so all I have is 5 plays go 17 yards and a punt. Pretty sure that was 5 more passes.
11th possession: Joe Bergeron, giddy with excitement over a carry on 1st down, fights for 6 yards before coughing it up. This must have been the boogey man Mack Brown was avoiding the run game over.
12th possession: An Iowa State TD after the turnover makes the game 27-24 with 11 minutes left in the game. No more of that run stuff, fumbles happen. Daje Johnson picks up 7 yards on a Case McCoy completion on first down, before 2 McCoy incompletions round out another 3 and out.
13th possession: Major Applewhite, throwing caution to the wind on this unlucky 13th possession, lets 3 straight Brown and Gray runs pick up 10 yards. But then more bad: incomplete on a 1st down pass, Gray picks up 4 yards, and a 1 yard pass on 3rd and 6 harkens back to Greg Davis. Punt.
14th possession: The Texas defense holds ISU to a FG, making the game a 30-24 ISU lead. There's really no narrative to this game winning drive. 12 plays, 75 yards over 2:49 that has a little bit of everything. McCoy goes 3-5 for 24 yards, with 2 rushes netting 0 yards and a TD. 2 pass interference calls give Texas 24 yards, while another personal foul adds 14 more yards. A Kennedy Estelle false start takes away 5 yards, netting Texas 33 yards in penalties on the drive. 2 Gray rushes early in the possession go for 9 and 8 yards, before the two carries of fumble/not fumble go for no yards. This game winning drive is the stuff champions are made of.
16 - 89 (5.6) - 1: Johnathan Gray rush attempts - rushing yards (yards per carry) - rushing TDs
4 - 36 (9.0) - 1: Joe Bergeron rush attempts - rushing yards (yards per carry) - rushing TDs
Despite the light workload against Iowa State, Johnathan Gray continued his march to 1,000 yards with 89 carries on 18 attempts, more than 5 yards per carry. The 44 yard explosion in the 1st quarter was impressive, but unfortunately was not a sign of things to come. After getting 28 carries against Kansas State, Applewhite oversteered and didn't get the back involved enough. He's averaging over 100 yards a game in his last 4 games.
Bergeron did his best to maximize his few opportunities, getting a mean 30 yards and a TD in his first action on the night. But when you don't get a guy involved enough, he presses and tries to do too much when given chances, and that led to a Bergeron fumble in Ames.
12: Dalton Santos total tackles
10 - 2 - 1: Malcom Brown total tackles - tackles for loss - sacks
Dalton Santos earned the start in Ames following Steve Edmond's first half suspension for targeting against Kansas State. His 12 tackles were a team high, and much of that work earned in the first half. Either his injured ankle came back and prevented him from playing much of the second half, or the performance was not enough to keep Steve Edmond on the bench, as it was Edmond playing most of that second half in route to 7 total tackles for himself.
Malcom Brown continues his dominant sophomore campaign, coming 2nd in team tackles at 10, and leading the way in tackles for loss (tied with Cedric Reed with 2) and sacks (tied with Jeffcoat, Edmond, and Chris Whaley with 1). MB2 has become the anchor in the middle that the Texas defense has missed since Kheeston Randall left in 2011.
50 - 201 (4.0) - 1: Iowa State rush attempts - rushing yards (yards per carry) - rushing TDs
27 - 262 (9.7) - 2/1: Iowa State pass attempts - passing yards (yards per attempt) - passing TDs/interceptions
10 - 20: Iowa State 3rd down conversions - 3rd down opportunities
Just a quick update on the Texas defense: ISU gained 201 yards on 50 attempts, a respectable 4.0 yards per carry. Speedster Aaron Wimberly led the way with 29 carries and 117 yards a TD, and QB Sam Richardson added 17 carries for 83 yards (after taking out 21 yards on 5 sacks).
Richardson was able to cause harm in the passing game, getting nearly 10 yards a passing attempt, though 97 of those 262 yards came on a single completion to Quenton Bundrage who finished with 5 catches and 137 yards and that TD. It was Richardson's ability to scramble that helped him convert 50% of 3rd down opportunities on the night.