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Inside the Numbers - Texas vs. New Mexico State

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It took 28 minutes to get off the ground (28 minutes of sunshine, cheer, optimism, and hope from those in attendance at DKR…okay, not really), but the Major Applewhite era got off to a resounding start that just so happened to set a school record for total yardage. Like most early season drubbings of overmatched opponents, you can’t take too much from this kind of performance, but there are plenty of fun stats to review in the 2013 opener’s record setting night.

Welcome to The Daje Johnson Show.
Welcome to The Daje Johnson Show.
Cooper Neill

72 – 715 (9.93): Texas offense total plays – total yards (yards per play)

42 – 359 (8.5): Texas rushing attempts – rushing yards (yards per carry)

30 – 356 (11.9): Texas passing attempts – passing yards (yards per pass)

To say the new-look Texas offense got off to a slow start would be a bit of an understatement. The first five drives, 26 plays for 133 yards (5.12 yards per play), all ended in obvious failure: a fumble, turnover on downs, 3 and out, and two INTs. It wasn’t until a Dalton Santos kick return following NMSU’s first and only score of the game did the Texas offense find, and maintain, it’s rhythm. From that 2:22 remaining in the 2nd quarter mark, the Texas offense ran 46 plays for 582 yards, a blistering 12.65 yards per play, featuring 8 TD drives and 2 punts. Of the 8 TDs scored, 7 of the scores came from 20+ yards out, a feat unreached in all of college football in 2012 (stat h/t Longhorn Network). The overall production is split pretty evenly as well, with 359 yards on 42 carries (8.5 per carry) and 356 yards on 30 team attempts (11.9 per pass). The 715 total yards is good for a new Texas total yardage record.

A small note: not a single yard lost in the run game. The offensive line may not have felt like world beaters on the evening, but still managed to get enough done on the ground.

6 – 62 (10.3) – 1: Daje Johnson rushes – rushing yards (yards per rush) – rushing TDs

3 – 67 (22.3) – 1: Daje Johnson receptions – receiving yards (yards per catch) – receiving TDs

If you’re thinking Daje Johnson is the best player on our offense, you’re not alone. The sophomore WR/RB/BAMF showcased power, vision, and unparalleled burst in long TD scores of 66 yards through the air and 24 yards on the ground. And the best part about it? Major Applewhite managed to get Johnson 9 combined touches on offense, a mark not often reached in the prior 3 years of offense. Don’t think we’ll be needing the "Free Daje Johnson" signs this year, and it’s nice to see a #4 contributing on offense.

20 -28 (71.4), 343 (12.25), 4 – 2: David Ash completions – attempts (completion %), passing yards (yards per attempt), passing TDs – INTS

8 – 91 (11.4) – 1: David Ash rushing attempts – rushing yards (yards per carry) – rushing TDs

Rough sledding early on for David Ash, being a little off target on some deep throws, having some drops from receivers, and the unfortunate tipped INT, but the only egregious throw was the INT intended for Mike Davis in the end zone. That throw needed to be on a line, and Ash either misjudged the throw he needed or completely failed to account for the safety coming across the field. Fortunately, unlike some moments last year, he rebounded and posted a career night, becoming the 1st player in school history with a run and pass of more than 50 yards in a game. The 434 total yards of offense are the most ever in a Texas season opener, and 6th on the all-time single-game list. Whatever the beginning looked like, the end product was a thing of beauty. Hopefully, Ash keeps up the pace (a pace predicted in our Inside the Numbers - Projecting the 2013 Offense, with 71%, 300 passing yards per game, and 27 TD - 12 INTs), and is able to completely silence critics skeptical about his ability.

6 – 28 (4.7) – 0: Johnathan Gray rushes – rushing yards (yards per carry) – rushing TDs

3 – 3 (1.0) – 0: Malcolm Brown rushes – rushing yards (yards per carry) – rushing TDs

9 – 79 (8.8) – 0: Joe Bergeron rushes – rushing yards (yards per carry) – rushing TDs

9 – 92 (10.2) – 2: Jalen Overstreet rushes – rushing yards (yards per carry) – rushing TDs

For the two expected feature backs of the offense, Malcolm Brown and John Gray had slow evenings on the ground, combing for 9 carries and 31 yards on the ground. With Daje Johnson and David Ash getting major ground production with the first offense, the third and fourth options at running back, Joe Bergeron and Jalen Overstreet, ran all over the tired NMSU defense. Behind the second offensive line on clearly Mack Brownsian game-killing dive plays, Bergeron and Overstreet combined for 18 carries and 171 yards (9.5 a carry), with Overstreet driving in the last two scores. While Gray and Brown weren’t bad by any stretch, it’s clear that the running back rotation will be a constant battle for reps.

5 – 63 (12.6) – 1: Mike Davis receptions – receiving yards (yards per catch) – receiving TDs

5 – 40 (8.0) – 0: Jaxon Shipley receptions – receiving yards (yards per catch) – receiving TDs

3 – 109 (36.3) – 1: Malcolm Brown receptions – receiving yards (yards per catch) – receiving TDs

2 – 59 (29.5) – 1: John Harris receptions – receiving yards (yards per catch) – receiving TDs

Despite missing summer and much of fall camp recovering from offseason surgeries, Shipley and Davis combined for half of David Ash’s completions and 103 yards through the air. Neither really looked 100%, with Davis looking the most tentative on the field, even though he’d pull off an acrobatic TD grab in the corner of the end zone. Alongside the previously mentioned Daje Johnson, Malcolm Brown and John Harris provided nearly half of the receiving yardage on 5 catches, with Brown hauling in two long screen passes (including a 74 yard rumbler of a TD after catching a key block from Harris) and Harris taking off with a 54 yard TD grab making a NMSU defender miss in space. Brown may be our screen back after John Gray dropped an easy swing pass, and Harris may have made his statement to be the third WR and long desired big option outside. John Gray, Marcus Johnson, and Geoff Swaim combined for the other 4 catches for 18 yards.

84 – 346 (4.12): NMSU offense total plays – total yards (yards per play)

38 – 105 (2.7): NMSU rushes – rushing yards (yards per carry)

46 – 242 (5.3): NMSU pass attempts – passing yards (yards per attempt)

Whether it’s excitement about the new offense, or cautious optimism following what the 2012 defense did, the defense against NMSU is flying largely under the radar. While the 346 yards given up may look concerning, it took 84 plays to get there, allowing 2.7 yards a rush and 5.3 a pass on a very close-to-the-vest Aggie gameplan. Only 2 of 16 Aggie drives went for more than 50 yards: a 12 play 70 yard drive ending in a fumble, and a 9 play 64 yard drive (following Ash’s second INT) ending in a passing TD. The lone TD score, a deep corner pass, was of the great play variety: a nice pass and catch over our least skilled pass defender. And the D weathered the early storm, when the offense was getting nothing done and turning the ball over and before NMSU had worn out: the first 6 NMSU drives, before the Texas offense got on the board, went 39 plays for 170 yards (4.36 yards per play). And the big plays were lacking: the longest pass play was 27 yards and longest run play was 15 yards. The missed tackles were down, the run defense was much more sound, and the D responded to sudden changes. NMSU may not be nearly the test of the defense’s improvement, but it provides a solid baseline comparison.

14 – 2 (5) – 3: Jackson Jeffcoat and Cedric Reed combined tackles – TFL (yards lost) – QB hits

While the NMSU gameplan didn’t provide for the 10 sack performance that the Alamo Bowl in 2012 did, the 2013 starters at defensive end proved their commitment to the run game, tying for the team lead with 7 tackles a piece. A large portion of Texas’s run game problems in 2012 were a result of DEs flying upfield and creating large B gaps for opposing ball carriers to run through, the hand in the ground DE play that squeezed that B gap is a sure sign of an improved run defense in 2013.

6 – 11: Texas offense 3rd down conversions – 3rd down opportunities

1 – 2: Texas offense red zone TDs – red zone opportunities

The 2012 Texas offense finished in the top 25 nationally in both 3rd down conversions and red zone TD percentage after spending much of the year in the top 10 for each category. The 2013 season starts ho-hum in both metrics, with a 54.5% 3rd down conversion and a 50% red zone TD rate (only 2 opportunities in the red zone on a night filled with long TDs and an INT coming from the 20 yardline). We’ll be keeping an eye on these stats as the season goes on to see if Texas can return to national prominence in these critical offensive metrics.