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Upon Further Review: Defense vs A&M (First Half)

Even blogging full time, I now fully understand why Brian Cook usually isn't getting these things out until Wednesday, at the earliest. Finishing one half of one side of the ball took me far longer than I anticipated, for a multitude of reasons, some for reasons beyond my control (e.g. technology issues with the torrent file), and plenty that were my own fault -- mistakes and inefficiencies made because I'd never put one of these together before. One look at the monstrous chart and you'll sympathize. (Given that it's Wednesday night and I'm behind on pretty much everything -- behind on Life -- I may not get to do the second half to review the defense's forgettable second period.)

Let me preface the chart with a few key notes, for navigating what you're reading. Columns indicate, from left-to-right: Line of Scrimmage (Line), Down (Dn), Distance (Ds), Offensive Formation (OForm), Defensive Formation (DForm), Type, Play, Player, Yards Gained/Lost (Yds). Within the notes on each individual play, you'll see various +/-s sprinkled in behind player names or to conclude a note. These indicate a notable strong (+) play or mistake (-). Where the team's pressure is implicated, positively or negatively, that gets charted; ditto for coverage (Cover). At the conclusion of the chart is the aggregate chart for each player and the team pressure/cover metrics. There is some art to this particular science, but each play was scrutinized closely, two or more times almost every time. The chart, and the notes embedded within, pretty well captures everything that happened of import in the first half when A&M had the ball. If you have questions, pop 'em in the comments.


Line Dn Ds OForm DForm Type Play Player Yds
O29 1 10 Ace H-Back 4-2 Base Run Dive Michael 3
Ags actually execute picture-perfect zone blocking initially, but LT Grimes can't hold Lamarr Houston (+1), who sheds his block and makes the primary stop, with help from Acho (+0.5).
O32 2 7 Shotgun Trips Left 4-2 Base Pass Slip screen Swope -2
A&M tries a quick slip screen to the left flat with Swope, but Williams pushes his blocker back and Earl Thomas (Cover +1) comes racing forward to make a strong open field tackle for a loss of 2.
O30 3 9 Shotgun 4-wide 4-2 Up Pass Fly Fuller 70 (TD)
Zone blitz disaster. Gideon comes on a delayed blitz, and three Horns (Chykie, Keenan, ET) triangulate on slot man Morrow in the underneath zone as Fuller streaks past Chykie Brown (-0.5). I'm also tallying this one (Team Cover -2), as it's impossible to tell who among the three is at fault, or, if we take Muschamp at his word, the DC's fault.
DRIVE NOTES: 3 plays, 71 yards, 7 points, 1:16. A busted coverage puts Texas in the early hole. Nothing else to say about it. On the bright side: a mistake that's correctable.
Line Dn Ds OForm DForm Type Play Player Yds
O33 1 10 Shotgun Trips Left
4-2 Base
Pass Out Tannehill 14
Ags take over after ridiculous, predictable fake punt by UT. Aggies open with the same play as 2nd and 7 from their first drive, but this time, because Texas is blitzing Williams -- easily picked up by the LT (Pressure -1) Tannehill releases upfield on an out as Swope slides towards the sideline. ET charges up (Cover -1), reading another screen, but because Williams has vacated, Tannehill is free behind him on the out. After holding the LBs with play action, Johnson makes the right read and hits him for 14.
O47 1 10 Ace 3-wide
4-2 Base Run Sweep Gray 5 (Pen -15)
The Aggies run a sweep to the right, which would have been a nice first-down gain, but lose 15 yards on a chop block penalty called on Grimes. Keenan (-1) takes a terrible angle on the run, plowing himself into pinned inside position as Gray gets outside.
O32 1 25 Shotgun 4-wide, Trips L
4-2 Base Pass Shovel Gray 0
Texas sends Randall on a stunt and for a moment it looks like Texas is in trouble, as right before Randall arrives (Pressure +1) Johnson flips the shovel pass to Gray right in the area where Randall vacated, but Muckelroy (+1) is there, dodges a block, and makes the tackle for no gain.
O32 2 25 Shotgun empty
4-2 Wide
Pass Shovel Gray 6
A&M goes 5-wide from the empty set and runs a quick bubble screen to Gray. Keenan recovers nicely from an initial block to keep Gray from cutting inside, while ET (+1) comes up quick and strong to make the initial hit, with Muckelroy finishing the tackle.
O38 3 19 Shotgun 4-wide, Doubles
3-4 Pass Scramble Johnson 0
Texas brings in E-Acho for its first true 3-4 look of the game. Three-man rush gets no pressure on Johnson, who has a huge pocket to throw in, but doesn't like what he sees downfield and scrambles, making Kindle miss before getting run out of bounds by Muckelroy. (Team Cover +1)
DRIVE NOTES: 5 plays, 5 yards, Punt, 2:01. The chop block puts A&M in big hole they don't get out of. Texas D does nice job tackling what's in front of them. Fake punt doesn't hurt Texas on the scoreboard.
Line Dn Ds OForm DForm Type Play Player Yds
O34 1 10 Ace 4-wide, Doubles
4-2 Base
Rush Stretch Michael 4
Another nice bit of execution by A&M zone blocking, as the guard gets a good block taking Muckelroy (+1) to the ground, but the linebacker nicely absorbs the blow and is on his feet very quickly to make the tackle with ET (+0.5), who avoided the WR block while coming up in run support. Keenan (-0.5), apparently on outside contain, lightly dances (much too far) outside trying to avoid a Tannehill block, and effectively runs himself out of the play.
O38 2 6 Ace 4-wide, Bunch L
4-2 Base Run Counter Michael 3
A&M bunches three WR to the left, then runs a counter to the right with Michael. The blocking is excellent up front and at the second level on the playside, but Keenan (+1) does a good job decisively cutting to cut off Michael before he can make much yardage, slamming him to the ground with a strong tackle.
O41 3 3 Empty, 5-wide, Trips L
4-2 Under Pass Dig McCoy 7
Texas rushes four while playing A&M in man underneath, with Muck spying Johnson in the middle of the field. Johnson has a comfortable pocket and clear lane to zip a pass to McCoy just beyond the LOS. Williams' coverage is strong -- McCoy is smothered as he receives the ball -- but it's just a perfect throw by Johnson, good for a 1st Down.
O48 1 10 I-Form
4-2 Base
Run Dive Michael 1
After mindlessly lining up on the wrong side of the field, Aaron Williams (-0.5) is belatedly sprinting across the field at the snap and is lucky Johnson didn't audible to a quick pass to the uncovered slot on the strongside. No harm on the play, however, as Acho and Randall tie up blockers, and Chykie (+1) beats a block and combines with Keenan for a stuff near the LOS.
O49 2 9 Ace, Twin-TEs
3-4 Run Dive Michael 6
Hard to see this one very well as ESPN gives us a meaningless Packers-Lions update from six hours earlier, but it's another good job of zone blocking by A&M, although Muck (+0.5) once again does a good job shedding engagement to help ET make the tackle.
UT45 3 3 Shotgun, 5-wide, Trips R
3-3-5 Pass Drag Tannehill INC
Texas rushes three, and drops LBs into zone. Tannehill drags across and is actually open in the zone when Johnson releases the ball, but Lamarr Houston (+1) pushes to JJ with an outstanding rush from the weak end position (Pressure +1) and bats down the pass as it's release.
DRIVE NOTES: 6 plays, 21 yards, Punt, 2:32. No real problems here for the defense; A&M picks up a first down on nice execution, but Texas is solid throughout.



Line Dn Ds OForm DForm Type Play Player Yds
O35 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide, Trips R
3-3-5 Under
Run Dive Michael 2
Texas is playing three down, with Kindle upright on the strongside. Lamarr Houston (+1) absolutely destroys Patrick Lewis at the LOS and makes the primary tackle.
O36 2 8 Shotgun Trips Left 4-2 Base Pass Screen Michael 7
A&M shoots both receivers on the right downfield while slipping Michael out on a quick screen. Muck does a great job reading it, but Johnson completes a nifty pass and Muck (-0.5) overruns Michael, whiffing on the tackle. Fortunately, Kindle reads it nicely as well and is able to wrap the RB with Chykie before A&M can get a 1st Down.
O30 3 1 I-Form, Twin-TEs
4-2 Up Pass Sack Johnson -1
Out of the I-formation with two tight ends, it might be a questionable play call on 3rd and short, except that Texas's tackles (Houston especially) have begun really disrupting the interior. A&M tries Play Action instead, but the short zones are blanketed by Longhorns. Randall (+0.5) and Kindle (+0.5) close in on Johnson (Pressure +1) and get the sack for a loss of 10, as JJ nearly fumbles.
DRIVE NOTES: 3 plays, -1 yards, Punt, 2:20. Texas fans start to relax as it looks like the D is going to do what it always does: shut opponents down after giving up an early score. Horns lead 14-7.
Line Dn Ds OForm DForm Type Play Player Yds
O08 1 10 Shotgun, Ace Right-Over
3-3-5 Under
Rush Zone Read
Johnson 14
Texas is in 3-4 with Kindle upright on the weakside, with Houston line up in 5-technique on the strongside. At the snap Johnson correctly reads Houston (-1), who crashes inside too quickly, pulls the ball back, keeps it, and rips off a 14-yard run before an open field tackle is made by Nolan Brewster, who's in the game because Williams is for the first series this game on the sidelines (ET taking nickelback duties).
O22 1 10 Ace, Doubles
4-2 Base Rush Dive Michael 8
Great zone blocking once again by A&M: the tackles are sealed and Muck can't immediately shed the second-level block this time, allowing Michael to rip it up the gut before Gideon makes the stop with Muck.
O30 2 2 N/A
N/A Rush N/A Michael 1
ESPN misses the entire play while Reece Davis shows a meaningless picture of fans in Boulder while talking about the (not at all breaking) news that Dan Hawkins will return next year. Thanks, guys. Houston and Robinson are credited with the tackle of Michael, who picks up 1 on a rush.
O31 3 1 Ace, Twin-TEs
4-2 Base
Rush Dive Michael 3
Keenan had an indirect shot at Michael in the backfield, but couldn't quite knock him down and Michael kept his balance and stumbled forward for the first down. Thomas on the tackle.
O34 1 10 Shotgun, Ace Trips L
3-3-5 Pass Fly Tannehill 36
Texas in its 3-4 with Kindle upright. Horns blitz 5 at the snap, Kindle from the weakside and Muck from the strongside, but there's no pressure generated at all (Pressure -1). With Muck vacating, Keenan (-1) has responsibility for the strongside slot, but he's a second slow making his break over and Tannehill, who's running a fly, has a full step edge on him. Johnson lobs a perfect pass that hits the WR in stride as Keenan tackles from behind. (Coverage -1) Absolutely no reason, given Texas' scheme and A&M's alignment, that Robinson shouldn't have been leaning towards Tannehill sooner, in time to be there in coverage.
UT30 1 10 Shotgun, Ace Doubles
4-2 Base
Pass Scramble Johnson 8
Texas plays A&M in Cover 2 man and blankets all the downfield receivers nicely (Coverage +1), but the front four can't get anything on Johnson (Pressure -1), who eventually tucks it in, jukes Kindle (-0.5), and is barely tripped up by Acho after picking up 8 yards.
UT22 2 2 I-Form, Twin TE
4-2 Base (?)
Rush Dive Michael 8
Texas is scrambling to align itself at the snap, making the job easy for A&M, who easily win the LOS and open the way for Michael to grab 8 and the first down. (Pressure -1)
UT14 1 10 Ace, Double Stacks Gun
Pass Slant Fuller 14
Texas aligns in 3-4 (Kindle upright) and blitzes the nickelback ET, dropping the remaining 7 in zone. Problem 1: Absolutely no heat from the four man rush (Pressure -1). Now, take a look at this snap shot. Problem 2: Dustin Earnest (-1) stands like a statue and just watches, opening a gap behind him for Fuller. Problem 3: Nolan Brewster (-1)not only fgails to engage Fuller at the 10, but more or less propels him forward with a light push, meekly releasing him to the second level. Problem 4: As Fuller is released, Curtis Brown (-1) does absolutely nothing about it, instead doubling over the top of the underneath man releasing outside. On TV it looks like Gideon is the one late coming over, but it's not his play to make. There was no way he could get over -- it was Brown's responsibility. (Cover -3)
DRIVE NOTES: 8 plays, 92 yards, TD 14-14, 2:53. Prior to this drive, A&M had 7 points and 70 yards on a busted coverage and nothing else of too much concern -- just 32 yards on 6-7 passing and 25 yards rushing on 8 carries. With Texas' two scores to take a 14-7 lead, this would have seemed the moment when the Longhorns would begin to pull away. Instead, pinned on their own 8 yard line, Jerrod Johnson led A&M on an 8-play, 92-yard scoring drive, 72 of which were all Johnson -- 2 rushes for 22 and 2 passes for 36 and 14. Tempting as it might be to feel modestly assured that all four of the biggest plays featured dumbfounding mistakes by Texas, we have to wonder: how many mistakes did Texas make in the first 11 games this year that teams simply weren't able to capitalize on? There's no question this defense is strong, but the lack of QBs able to capitalize on Texas' mistakes may have made the unit look better than it is. I'll stop now, as we're only in the second quarter here. More pain to come.
Line Dn Ds OForm DForm Type Play Player Yds
O33 1 10 Shotgun Ace Trips R
3-3-5 Under
Pass Curl Nwachukwu 13
Another soft zone by Texas, another country afternoon for JJ to survey the field (Pressure -1). The Aggies send Swope from the slot towards the sideline, occupying nickelback ET near the LOS, send Fuller deep to draw the safety, and hit Nwachukwu on a 10-yard curl, who Beasley (-1) is only nominally covering. (Coverage -1) Second straight series without A-Williams and it's showing.
O46 1 10 I-Right Wing
4-2 Base Rush FB Dive McCoy -1
Johnson hands to the fullback on a quick dive play that A&M's blocking right; if McCoy heads for the B gap on the right side, there's a big hole and 6-8 yards waiting for him, but he hesitates and steps left, where Sergio Kindle (+1) is crashing down the line. Kindle wraps up for a 1-yard loss.
O45 2 11 Shotgun, Ace Right
4-2 Base Rush Zone Read
Gray 3
Seeing Kindle staying home this time, Johnson hands to Gray, who's got nothing to his right and is forced towards Kindle for what looks like will be a no-gainer, but Kindle (-0.5) can't finish the tackle as Gray makes a spin, allowing him to scamper forward for 3 yards, where Muck (+0.5) is in position to clos him out.
O49 3 7 Shotgun empty 5-wide
Pass Sack Johnson -10
Texas aligns in 3-3, man under, with Keenan hovering near the right guard. At the snap, Robinson retreats and drifts to his right while Curtis Brown comes on a corner blitz. Brown approaches Johnson's blindside, but feels the pressure at the last moment and spins as Brown (-1) arrives -- another missed tackle. But as he looks down the field for somewhere to go, Sam Acho (+1) pursues with tremendous speed and snags Johnson from the backside for a 10-yard sack. (Pressure +2, Coverage +1)
DRIVE NOTES: 4 plays, 6 yards, Punt, 2:21. Having scored the drive previous, Texas again looked like it might be building momentum, now up 21-7, but an atrocious 25-yard punt by Ryan Epperson fluttered down amidst traffic, ricocheted off Vaccaro, and into the Aggies arms at the UT 36 yard line.
Line Dn Ds OForm DForm Type Play Player Yds
UT36 1 10 Ace Right
3-4 Under
Pass Fly Fuller INC
3-4 alignment with Kindle upright. Aggies play action the stretch left and bootleg Johnson rolling out to his right, but the DL isn't fooled a bit, with Houston (+1), Kindle (+0.5), and Alexander (+0.5) all breaking through the Aggie OL to pursue the QB. Seeing Fuller covered well by Gideon (+1) deep, Johnson throws it away. (Pressure +1, Coverage +1)
UT36 2 10 Ace Right
3-3-5 Rush Option Dive
Michael 2
3-4 with Kindle upright. Ags swing Fuller towards the ball, with the option going to Michael on the dive. Despite being brutally held by the lineman he's just beat, Sam Acho (+1) makes the tackle for only a 2-yard gain.
UT34 3 8 Shotgun, Ace Trips L
4-2 Base Pass Drag
Gray 15
Texas in base nickel defense, playing man under, with Muck and E-Acho at LB. At the snap, A&M sends both the left slot and split end deep, while crossing Tannehill left-to-right, vacating the flat where the receivers began. As Gray slips from the backfield and drags into the open area, Johnson rolls left as Houston (+0.5) and Eddie Jones (+0.5) break through and pursue. (Pressure +1) However, Muckelroy (-2) makes a huge mistake -- staring at Johnson and losing track of Gray, leaving him sprinting to make up ground when Johnson's ball is delivered. Racing up at full-speed, he overshoots Gray, misses the tackle, and frees the tailback to dart upfield for extra yards -- 15 in all, and an enormously important 3rd down conversion with 1:49 left in the half. (Coverage -2)
UT19 1 10 Shotgun empty 5-wide
Pass Dig Fuller 5
Texas aligns in 3-4, playing zone underneath with nickelback ET blitzing from the strongside. Johnson's hot read is to Fuller on a dig, good for a short completion of 5 with Okafor on the tackle.
UT14 2 5 Shotgun empty 5-wide
4-2 Base
Pass Flag Morrow 14 (TD)
Texas rushes 4 in Cover 2 man under, with E-Acho lined up on Morrow (weakside slot). Five yards into his route, the Aggie receiver makes a one-step break outside before jamming hard inside on the slant. Acho's (+1) position is perfect (walling off the inside), the coverage is excellent, and he's got safety help over Morrow's back-outside shoulder. As Nolan Brewster sees Johnson stepping into a throw to Morrow, he begins to close and, as the ball is released, is in excellent position: as shown here and here. Johnson's pass is as perfect as can be, giving Morrow the best chance possible to make the play, but given Brewster's positioning, it's a shocking completion. It's the kind of play our young safeties were (not) making early last year; this time, it's Brewster, who tackles Morrow as he makes the reception, but doesn't make a play on the ball. Touchdown Aggies and we're tied 21-21.
DRIVE NOTES: 5 plays, 36 yards, TD 21-21, 1:21. Each time Texas tries to separate, the Aggies bounce back, capitalizing this time on the muffed punt return. Credit for the short-field touchdown to Johnson -- again excellent -- but also again, Texas has a hand in it, Muckelroy's mental lapse the most critical mistake.


E. Jones 0.5 --
L. Houston 4.5 1
S. Acho 3.5 --
K. Randall 0.5 --
S. Kindle 2 1
B. Alexander 0.5 --
K. Robinson 1 2
R. Muckelroy 2 2
D. Earnest -- 1
B. Gideon 1 --
Cu. Brown -- 2
E. Thomas 1.5 --
A. Williams -- 0.5
Ch. Brown 1 0
N. Brewster -- 1
D. Beasley -- 1