clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Notes and observations from the Texas loss to Baylor

New, 42 comments

Scattershooting the game in the aftermath of another home loss.

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

The Texas Longhorns battled defensively, but couldn't overcome mistakes on special teams and a moribund offense, losing to the Baylor Bears 28-7 in Austin.

Here are some notes and observations from the game:

-- Special teams continue to be a source of massive frustration. Head coach Charlie Strong said that place kicker Nick Rose is consistent from distance in practice, but that hasn't been the case from any range in games. So while Rose does have a strong leg, attempting a 52-yarder against a team known for racking up touchdowns didn't seem like a smart move.

And the kick was blocked and returned for a touchdown that stood as the only score in the first half. It was the second time an opponent had blocked a long field goal attempt by Rose this season.

-- The converted fake punt shouldn't have happened, according to Strong, as there were two players keyed on the punter, but they got caught up in the wash and weren't able to make the play. Three plays later, the Bears scored their first touchdown of the game on a 30-yard pass.

-- Texas could have tied the game in the second quarter after a remarkable goal-line stand that stopped Baylor just outside of the Texas end zone and a long drive that featured 14 plays, but another fumbled exchange on the goal line that quarterback Tyrone Swoopes said was his fault resulted in yet another turnover on the doorstep of a touchdown.

A touchdown on that play would have shifted momentum in the game and given the Horns a chance to take the lead on the first possession of the second half. Instead, it provided more evidence that Texas needs to go back in practice and work on goal-line snaps.

-- Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty was shockingly inaccurate during the game, missing on a number of relatively easy passes that he normally completes. Two touchdown passes late helped pad his numbers a little bit, but he was ultimately held to 7-of-22 passing for 111 yards, the lowest yardage total for him as a starter and the only game during that span in which he failed to complete 10 or more passes.

-- The Texas defense was designed to stop the pass against Baylor and avoid giving up big plays. Coming into the game, Baylor had 14 passing plays of 30 or more yards, an average of almost four per game, but only managed two passes of 30 yards. Unfortunately for the Horns, those 30-yard passes were especially damaging, as both went for touchdowns.

-- Late in the game, the defense wore down due to a lack of depth and really struggled to stop the running game of Baylor. The 12-play drive to start the fourth quarter for the Bears featured 11 runs against a defense that was clearly worn down by that point. On the next drive, Baylor ran the ball six straight times to start it.

-- In scheming to avoid big passing plays, Texas spent a lot of time with three down linemen and struggled once again to defend the run from that alignment. Shock Linwood was excellent for the Bears, looking like the true five-star running back on the field in rushing 28 times for 148 yards and a touchdown. Many of the yards came after contact -- an ABC graphic late in the game credited him with 44 yards after contact, roughly the same number of yards after contact the Texas backs have managed this season.

-- Speaking of the Texas running backs, they had one of their better efforts this season, finding some holes and generally running hard. Outside zone was the most effective play on the day even though the Horns weren't running it often earlier in the season -- the offensive line still struggles to get the necessary displacement on Power and inside zone, but was much better moving laterally to create some holes for the backs to slice through.

The big plays still weren't there though -- Johnathan Gray managed a 26-yard run, but Malcolm Brown's longest effort was only 13 yards. Still, 6.6 yards per carry for Gray and 4.6 yards per carry for Brown are acceptable numbers given the inexperience of the offensive line.

-- Quarterback Tyrone Swoopes was visibly nervous during the game, according to play caller Shawn Watson. It showed up on the field in happy feet in the pocket at times, something Strong said Swoopes needed to improve upon entering the game.

He was also more inaccurate than he has been in his other starts and was still unable to complete many passes downfield, consistently overthrowing receivers. Learning to give his receivers a chance to make a play on the football is something that he needs to accomplish in the near future or the Texas offense will continue to sputter.

For the first time as a starter, his decision-making was poor, too, resulting in two interceptions after going nearly three whole games without throwing a pick.

The one positive was that Swoopes had a quarterback draw called for him up the middle and nearly scored a touchdown right before the fumbled exchange when he gained momentum and lowered his shoulder to pick up extra yardage. He has to understand that he doesn't have the lateral quickness to take the edge against opponents and needs to focus on using his mass to pick up yards after contact.

-- The anticipated return of wide receiver Daje Johnson was supposed to help the offense produce more explosive plays, but he only touched the ball twice, carrying it once for five yards and tossing it to wide receiver Armanti Foreman on a reverse. After the game, Strong said that Johnson tweaked a hamstring, which could have explained by he didn't touch the ball much. So his availability is once again in question and it isn't clear that the offense has a coherent strategy for getting him the football, either.

-- The unsportsmanlike penalty on wide receiver John Harris in the third quarter was complete garbage unless he said something to the Baylor player. It didn't appear that he did and was merely signaling for a first down, a gesture that typically does not and should not draw a flag. His 34-yard catch was the only big play in the passing game and didn't even end up netting that much yardage as a result of the penalty. It was the first time this season that Harris hasn't scored a touchdown.

-- Texas showed against Baylor and UCLA that it can hang tough against good teams, but there are too many mental mistakes, not enough depth, and not enough firepower offensively to win games. With TCU upsetting Oklahoma on Saturday and West Virginia looking stronger than anticipated, the wins are going to be extremely hard to come by.