Coaches talk about perfect execution, those moments when each player fulfills their assignment just like the plays get drawn up in meeting rooms.
For the Texas Longhorns, one of the chalkboard plays against the Kansas State Wildcats came on a Counter play to the right that produced a 46-yard run for senior running back Johnathan Gray. This particular gap scheme that also encompasses the similar Power play has quickly become one of the bread-and-butter plays for Texas, whether it's for a running back, redshirt freshman quarterback Jerrod Heard, or junior quarterback Tyrone Swoopes in the 18 Wheeler package.
The second-longest run of Gray's career (and the longest since gaining 49 yards against West Virginia in 2012) helped him eclipse the 100-yard mark for the first time this season because his teammates created a major seam for him to exploit.
Check out the blocking:
There's freshman right guard Patrick Vahe obliterating a Kansas State defensive lineman on his down block. There's senior H-back Alex De La Torre leading through the hole and sealing off the key playside defender. There's junior offensive tackle Kent Perkins working to the second level and executing his assignment. There's freshman wide reciever John Burt getting downfield to handle the cornerback covering him.
Meanwhile, the threat of the sweep from senior wide receiver Daje Johnson forced several defenders to the field to take false steps after the linebackers had already shifted to account for the motion, helping to give Gray an extra step or two of his own on his way.
Without having to make any significant cuts or break any tackles, Gray was able to take the sideline for his big gain, which set up a short touchdown run in the 18 Wheeler package by Swoopes and gave Texas a 16-0 lead.
Considering that the play came after the only sack allowed by the offensive line on 2nd and 16, being able to recover from being behind the chains is an offensive quality almost as important to the long-term outlook as the play was for the game's short-term outlook.
This is exactly what play caller Jay Norvell meant when he talked about the empahsis on consistency and execution during the bye week -- instead of going wild installing new plays, he took the opportunity to improve in the key competencies that are the basis for the emerging offensive identity.
For offensive line coach Joe Wickline, it's clear that his repeated emphasis on technique over results is paying dividends. Though his hard-driving style didn't mesh well with several highly-rated recruits, the freshmen are taking to his tutelage and even seniors Taylor Doyle and Sedrick Flowers have achieved a higher level of play in the last two games.
"They're excited," Gray said of the offensive line. "They love it. Get off the ball and go smash people. They're doing a great job. They're fundamentally sound and guys are just excited to go out there and play. That's what we have to do for this team. To keep the train running, that's what we have to stay focused on."
As the schedule continues to lighten with games against Iowa State and Kansas looming over the next two weeks, Texas will have more chances to out-execute opponents lacking the overall talent level seen by the Horns in the early part of the season.
Whether it's Gray or sophomore running back D'Onta Foreman, whichever back receives the carries will capitalize on those chalkboard plays as long as the offensive line and lead blockers open the way.