Looking back at last season, the Texas Longhorns need to do a better job of closing out the second quarter before halftime, while also avoiding a sluggish start to the second half of each game this year.
Of the 12 games Texas played last season, the Longhorns allowed an opponent to score within the last 2:27 of the first half seven times and posted a 2-5 record in those games.
Opponent scores before halftime
(Win) Rice scored a touchdown at the 2:27 mark before the half to cut Texas’ own lead to 21-14.
(Loss) After Texas scored a touchdown to go up 24-14 with 1:32 left in the second quarter, the ‘Horns surrendered 10 points to Cal before halftime to tie the game at 24.
(Loss) To add to its already dominant lead, TCU scored a touchdown that left just 48 seconds on the clock before half to go up 37-0.
(Win) Texas surrendered its only touchdown to Kansas State with 32 seconds left on the clock before the half to cut its own lead from 16-0 to 16-6 (KSU failed on the two-point conversion).
(Loss) Iowa State increased its lead to 10 by kicking a field goal with five seconds left in the first half. Texas was scoreless in this game.
(Loss) To go up 21-10 leading into halftime, West Virginia scored on a 53-yard pass with a minute left on the clock.
(Loss) Breaking the 10-10 tie before halftime, Patrick Mahomes ran in a touchdown to give the Red Raiders the lead 17-10 with 1:48 left in the first half.
Giving up points not only hurts the scoreboard but it also gives the opponent momentum going into halftime. It gives that team energy and something to build off of when it comes back out for the third quarter.
Sluggish starts to the second half
Speaking of the third quarter, Texas also needs to come out after halftime with better energy and score sooner than it did in many games last season.
Other than scoring a touchdown against Rice within the first 23 seconds of the third quarter and another touchdown at the 10:01 mark against Kansas, Texas failed to score any sooner than 8:36 in the third quarter (which was a field goal against Notre Dame to cut the Irish lead to just 17-3) in its 10 other games.
The Longhorns were a lousy 3-7 in those games when they struggled to score out of halftime.
There isn’t just one cause for giving up points right before half, and there isn’t one easy fix to coming out of halftime with more energy. It takes a team effort to improve both issues.
This Sunday against Notre Dame, we all should watch how Texas closes the half at home and what this team is like when it comes back onto the field to start the third quarter.
And of course, it will also be interesting to see if these issues are improved in each game throughout the season.
(I need to thank “eirehorn” on our board for first motivating me to look into these stats.)
As a reminder, I’m posting one thought per day in a series of 15 posts over the course of 15 days until we get to game day.
With two days left until kickoff, this is the 14th post of the series.
If you missed the other posts, the links are below