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Postgame statistical summary: Texas vs. BYU

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Let's delve into the play-by-play from the Texas-BYU game... with pictures!

John Harris, sole touchdown scorer for the Longhorns.
John Harris, sole touchdown scorer for the Longhorns.
Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

"Im past the anger now. Time to just sort of enjoy whatever is left." -- owenh admirably skips right to acceptance.

Okay look I didn't expect to win this game, and BYU is still underrated at 25 in the AP rankings, but that doesn't mean what happened Saturday was any fun to watch. What began as a strong defensive showing against a team that shredded us last year turned into a total collapse around an overmatched offensive line, a young quarterback, and a defense that realized they were playing with no offensive support. To sum up: while I am sure the young man of Provo is inoffensive and polite; I will be thankful to never face Taysom Hill ever again.

Onwards to the pretty pictures...

Big plays and Bad plays.

In the chart above, "big gains" are 20+ yard passes or 10+ yard rushes. Medium gains are 10-20 yard passes and 5-10 yard rushes. Short gains are 0-10 yard passes or 0-5 yard rushes. Mouseover the bars to see run/pass splits.

In a continuing trend, the Texas offense struggled to create big (explosive?) plays with only 4 total this week. The BYU defense was getting plenty of pressure without expending safety help, and that showed in Texas' inability to get the ball downfield in the air (only 1 pass for 20+ yards).

The Texas defense was good except when it was not. With lots of BYU plays stopped for minimal gains (36 BYU rushes went for 5 or fewer yards, half of those for 0 or fewer), the defense looked to be making short work of the BYU offense. That is, until one or two bad angles or broken plays exposed the defense to the potent rushing of Taysom Hill, whose play contributed to the 8 rushes for 10+ yards for the BYU offense. It is tough to say with a straight face, but for much of the night we defended the BYU run pretty well. Those BYU yardage totals look really bad (248 rushing and 181 passing for 429 yards) but it took the Cougars 86 plays to do it, registering a pedestrian 5 yards per play. Compared with the Texas offense's mere 66 plays, it's clear we were seeing a tired Texas defense left on the field to wilt due to the dysfunction of the Texas offense. Now where have I heard that before...

Left, middle, and right.

Above are the rushing and passing distributions over the left, middle, and right thirds of the field. Mouseover the bars to see per-play information.

Weirdly, the left/middle/right yardage distributions for Texas and BYU look similar, except BYU's bars are taller. Do with that piece of information what you will.

The Texas offense for a second week in a row insisted on rushing the ball up the middle, compiling an impressive 49 yards on 18 carries for a 2.7 yards/carry average. This is extremely bad. We weren't much better elsewhere, averaging 3.5 yards/carry to the left and the right, but it's clear that with this offensive line yards up the middle won't be gained easily if at all. It might be time to try something else. The passing game for the second straight week hovered around a 5.5 yard/attempt average; through two weeks we are ranked 110th in the country in this metric behind powerhouses like New Mexico State and UTSA.

Probability of Texas winning the game

The above chart shows the probability of Texas winning the game throughout the entire game. Mouse over the plays to see what they are. This is to see how much impact individual plays had on the outcome.

That ominous feeling we had watching the first half -- like we were waiting for the other shoe to drop -- can be quantified in the gradual downward slope in win probability in the first 30 minutes of the plot above. This was mostly due to the slowly growing BYU lead, the inability of the Texas offense to do anything of substance, and an ever-worsening exchange of field position for Texas. Still, the deficit was manageable.

Then the first 10 minutes of the third quarter happened, in which the win probability plummets to essentially zero. Those ten minutes tell the story of the wheels coming off for Texas, and nothing that happened afterwards really affected the outcome. In this period occurs in this order: the Taysom Hill 30 yard TD run, an Adam Hine 16 yard TD run, a Marcus Johnson fumble on a kickoff, and another Hill TD run. All in 10 freaking minutes in which our offense registered just seven plays. Yikes.

Summary

These first two games have made clear to me that Texas needs to effectively rush the ball to the outside. At least we need to try more often, instead of stubbornly rushing up the middle like we have done with little success. We are not strong enough in our offensive line to make that a workable strategy and it is showing in the data. Clearly the passing game also needs to improve but this is a difficult goal with our current inexperience under center.

I know staring a 41-7 loss in the face it is hard to see any positives, but I am not giving up on a Texas defense that is currently ranked #6 in yards/play and #15 in yards/game. It's early in the season and it's not much, but it's something to feel good about. The way I see it, unless something drastically changes on offense we are either the 2011 or the 2010 Texas Longhorns; both good defenses paired with bad-to-horrible offenses. The 11th-ranked (in yards/game) 2011 Texas defense dragged a mediocre offense to an 8-win season, while the 6th-ranked 2010 Texas defense was squandered on a 5-7 season. Somewhere in between, I think, is where we'll end up.