Only nine total yards separated the two teams in Maryland’s 51-41 defeat of the Texas Longhorns. However, a deeper look at the statistics show that the teams were far from evenly matched.
It’s easy to look at statistics like Total Yardage and Scoring Offense to determine success, but to be truly successful, there are some other key indicators that could determine success for the Longhorns.
Yards Per Play:
For much of the game against the Terrapins, the Texas offense looked dysfunctional and the box score showed it. The Longhorns ran 84 plays to amass 473 offensive yards, for 5.6 yards per play, ranking last in the Big 12. In a conference that has become known nationally for its ability to move the ball, Texas has to figure out a way to increase its offensive efficiency to become a true competitor this season.
Sacks and Tackles for Loss:
Unlike Texas, the Maryland offense was brutally efficient, gashing Texas for chunk plays on the way to averaging 8.3 yards per play, thanks to a lack of penetration and disruptive plays from the defense. Against Maryland, the Texas defense only managed one sack and two tackles for loss, amounting to just 10 negative yards for the Maryland offense. The defensive line has to find a way to reset the line of scrimmage a few yards back, keeping offenses from finding easy rhythm.
This seems to be a no-brainer, but mental mistakes put the Longhorn offense behind the chains far too often. Texas amassed 117 penalty yards against the Terrapins, good enough for No. 119 of the 127 FBS schools. Even more shocking is that three teams with fewer penalty yards than Texas have played two games this season. The Texas offense had four first down plays called back due to penalties, including two in the fourth quarter, stalling their attempt at a comeback.
The key between these three areas is simple, executing on fundamentals. There is plenty of talent on the Texas roster to be competitive in most games this season, but not if they cannot shore up the basics.
Texas has a chance to take steps in the right direction and find its rhythm on both sides of the ball as they welcome San Jose State to Austin on Saturday.