Not only was the 50-7 loss the Texas Longhorns suffered against the TCU Horned Frogs over the weekend a historically bad performance by the Longhorns, it also had a significantly negative impact on the team's projected win-loss record.
Let's take a look at it this week's version from Football Study Hall:
|Date||Opponent||Opp. S&P+ Rk||Win
|10-Oct||vs. Oklahoma||2||6%||L||-27.0||15.9 - 43.0||1.06|
|24-Oct||Kansas State||47||43%||L||-3.1||25.6 - 28.6||1.49|
|31-Oct||at Iowa State||53||33%||L||-7.7||23.0 - 30.7||1.82|
|7-Nov||Kansas||124||93%||W||25.9||43.9 - 18.0||2.75|
|14-Nov||at West Virginia||7||7%||L||-25.5||15.3 - 40.9||2.82|
|26-Nov||Texas Tech||27||31%||L||-8.6||33.2 - 41.8||3.13|
|5-Dec||at Baylor||39||22%||L||-13.2||29.5 - 42.8||3.35|
Last week, the same chart had the win probability against Kansas State at 48%, Iowa State at 48%, and Texas Tech at 53%. So while the Horns still look to have a reasonable shot at beating the Wildcats at home following the bye week, to see the games against the Cyclones and Red Raiders drop from toss ups to a one in three chance to win those two contests is not a positive thing for a reeling football team.
The cumulative projected win total is still hovering over three, so the odds still favor Texas taking one of those games, but it seems clear now that there's virtually no hope of getting to six wins and becoming bowl eligibile, meaning the program will face its longest offseason since 2010.
Here's a few more thoughts based on the current advanced stats:
1. Texas has faced the toughest schedule in the country
According to S&P+, no other school has had it more difficult than the Horns over the first five weeks of the season. Indeed, with four previous opponents currently ranked in the polls, that's not exactly a revelation. But it's worth considering when looking at the S&P+ ranking of a school like Baylor.
Sitting at No. 4 in the Coaches Poll, there's universal national respect for a team that is widely expected to compete for a College Football Playoff spot. But there's a dirty little secret about the Bears -- S&P+ ranks the program No. 39 nationally right now because Baylor has played the nation's easiest schedule to this point. Surely, Art Briles and company have done everything expected in those games, it's just that the national public perception doesn't accurately relfect the reality of how easy it's been.
What is the current narrative surrounding Texas right now if the team is sitting at 3-2 after playing a non-conference schedule like the one that Baylor faced? There certainly aren't so many calls for the Horns to fire head coach Charlie Strong and fewer concerns about fallout in recruiting.
Unfortunately, Texas put together its long-term non-conference schedule filled with quality opponents believing that the program needed marquee match ups early in the season. And scheduling to ensure bowl eligibility? Well, that was something best left to the Baylors of the world.
Now the roles are reversed and the Horns are suffering through a difficult schedule that could cost Strong long-term stability.
2. Texas is losing the field position battle, badly
One of the five factors for succes devised by Bill C. is starting field position -- he's found that by winning that battle, teams come out victorious 72 percent of the time. Last year, Texas was absymal in that category, mostly because the offense couldn't pick up first downs or create explosive plays in general, finishing No. 115 nationally.
This year, it's just as bad. In part due to poor special teams play, an offense that struggled mightily against Notre Dame and TCU, and a defense that hemorrhages first downs and third-down conversions, the offense ranks No. 115 in field position and the defense ranks No. 113.
Asking two seriously flawed units to either sustain long drives or stop opponents on short fields is too just too much to ask right now, so unless Texas starts winning the field position battles, this is going to be a two-win football team.
3. The defense isn't creating any havoc
Even with a much more experienced and talented defense, Texas only managed a No. 74 national ranking in havoc, a metric that measures that percentage of plays in which a defense creates a tackle for loss, sack, forced fumble, interception, or breaks up a pass.
The production hasn't increased this season, as the Horns have dropped to No. 116 in that category, roughly 4 percent below the national average. Putting that into context, playing a number of good spread teams that emphasize getting the ball out quickly has impacted that number, but Texas hasn't created many tackles for loss in the run game or broken up many passes. And even when the defensive line does have time to get to the quarterback, it hasn't resulted in sacks -- witness the seven missed sacks against Rice.
So when you wonder why the defense can't get off the field and give the offense good field position, it's in large part because it's completely failing to create any havoc, even when opposing offenses are in clear passing situations -- Texas ranks No. 86 in pasing down sack rate.
4. The offensive line can't protect the QB on passing downs
Any offensive coordinaor will indicate that staying out of passing downs is a major priority, but it inevitably happens, especially to bad football teams. Such is the case at Texas, and the Horns haven't been able to provide junior Tyrone Swoopes or redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard with much help in those situations.
Whether it's picking up fire zone blitzes, delayed blitzes by safeties or linebackers, or even picking up the simple end-tackle twists that virtually every college football team utilizes in long down-and-distance situations, the Texas offensive line consistently fails on passing downs. The result is that the Longhorns rank dead last in passing down sack rate at 25.6 percent.
5. Targeting WR Armanti Foreman isn't working
Most observers would agree that the sophomore wideout needs the football for the Texas offense to make plays, but there's also an opportunity cost in targeting Foreman -- if he's not catching passes or the quarterback is having trouble connecting with him, then getting the football to someone else might be more worthwhile.
Right now, Foreman has 10 catches for 142 yards and a touchdown. Overall, those numbers are rather pedestrian five games into the season, but his 14.2 yards per catch is impressive. The problem is that that Texas quarterbacks have targeted Foreman 24 times, meaning that his yards per target average is only 5.9.
Some of the responsibility falls on Foreman's hands, which let him down twice against TCU. He also failed to get a foot down along the sideline on another play. The bottom line is that if Foreman doesn't start helping out his quarterback, thos targets need to go somewhere else.