Bunch formation helped Texas running game against TCU

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The look used the speed threat of Daje Johnson and the blocking ability of Geoff Swaim to good effect.

For the Texas Longhorns offense this season, there are packaged plays -- ones that block for a running play like inside zone or draw -- and then there are packages, complementary plays from one formation that work off of each other to confuse and out-leverage defenses.

After the Iowa State game, when the Cyclones were able to dictate a large number of passes with the reaction of the read defenders on the packaged plays, the Horns have mostly abandoned those in recent weeks.

Against TCU, however, Texas was able to effectively package several plays from a bunch formation utilizing tight ends Geoff Swaim and Greg Daniels and offensive weapon Daje Johnson.

The fake handoff to the running back helps hold the linebackers inside for a split second, giving Johnson the time to out-race the linebacker who does eventually read the play, while Swaim stays wide with his blocking angle seeing the pursuit and works his way to cornerback Kevin White, where his good block in space allows Johnson to pick up another five or six yards.

It's relatively unusual for a tight end of Swaim's size to operate with the same efficiency in space against smaller players as he does against linebackers or defensive ends around the line of scrimmage. His ability to do so is part of the reason why he is an invaluable part of the 2013 offense.

On the second such play, the threat of Johnson to the edge was able to help spring running back Malcolm Brown for a significant gain:

The valuable aspect of using Swaim as a lead blocker on the end around is that the same peel motion also works on this play to allow him to block a backside defensive player, a crucial element to the play since the Horned Frogs were crashing down hard to limit the cutbacks that Horns runners had found in recent contests.

Of course, even the misdirection isn't enough on this play to gash the TCU defense -- that took three excellent blocks, as left guard Trey Hopkins rode his defender playside and both Mason Walters and Greg Daniels . Combined with Swaim's block, that's four picture-perfect efforts. This is basically a blackboard play for Texas against an excellent defense, executed exactly as it was drawn up.

As much as offensive coordinators can come up with excellent schemes and complementary plays that put their players in positions to succeed, there's no substitute for effort and execution.

The emphasis on the running game means that the Horns have to do something to keep defenses somewhat honesty and using the threat of Johnson on the end around with a lead blocker is an excellent way to do that.

Now play caller Major Applewhite just has to find more ways to get Johnson involved in the passing game. The impediment there is probably Johnson's relative rawness compared to someone like Marcus Johnson, who has surged in recent weeks with his strong performances against Kansas State, Oklahoma, and TCU.

Throw in the fact that Marcus Johnson has a strong rapport with Case McCoy from their time working together last season as back ups and it becomes even more clear why Daje Johnson hasn't been targeted as a wide receiver.

But there are probably some more plays that play caller Major Applewhite can package together with this formation, including a screen pass to Johnson that utilizes Swaim and Daniels as blockers.

Whatever other plays Applewhite has packaged with the end around and inside zone, those two plays by themselves should continue to be an effective part of the Longhorns arsenal offensively.

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