If you were able to sit through the entire Texas Longhorns game with Notre Dame, props to you.
Saturday’s effort on national television looked eerily similar to all of the big games Texas played last season – lackluster offense putting the defense on the field for too many plays. End result – blowout loss.
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Before I go any further, let’s give credit where credit is due. Notre Dame is a damn good football team. The Irish have themselves a quarterback who can run the zone read behind a mammoth and talented offensive line. If people thought Texas could push this line around, well, we learned to the contrary. The Irish receivers looked legit, especially Will Fuller. He owned the Texas defensive backs tonight.
Still, the pop gun offense we saw tonight from the Longhorns was embarrassing. Tyrone Swoopes and Jerrod Heard still had no time to throw. Notre Dame brought constant pressure and the offensive line could not handle it. What happened to running the ball? Jonathan Gray finished with eight carries, several of those late in fourth quarter when the outcome was already decided.
Swoopes finished the night 7/22 for 93 yards. That simply won’t cut it. We were told about the great strides he made in the offseason. He was delivering the ball with accuracy and had really grasped the offense. The first two series tonight showed otherwise.
Texas went three-and-out in what seemed like less than a minute for each possession. Swoopes looked like the same quarterback we saw in 2014. I mean, he ran more than last year. But I don’t think Longhorn fans believe he has what it takes to lead a comeback.
Heard didn’t spend much time on the field. When he was out the offense moved a little. He took a hit and left the game. We never saw him again.
The offensive line was woeful. The two freshmen looked like freshmen at times. We knew they would have growing pains, and opening on the road against Notre Dame didn’t help matters. They were not alone, however. The rest of the line could not get any push on running plays. Blitzers came free on numerous occasions. It was another ugly night for the big uglies. Maybe Joe Wickline needs to stop calling plays and start coaching these guys.
On the other side of the ball things were a mess in the secondary. Miscommunication between Duke Thomas and Dylan Haines – the experienced players in the secondary – lead to an easy touchdown catch. Both safeties took bad angles on plays that resulted in big gains. John Bonney was picked on early, as expected. Bryson Echols proved you can’t tackle someone when you are laying on the ground in the end zone. Vance Bedford will not enjoy watching this tape.
There were a few bright spots. Malik Jefferson lived up to his top billing. The freshman was everywhere. He is lightning quick for a guy weighing 246 pounds. Texas fans will enjoy watching him play for the next few years. Nick Rose converted three of four field goals. Ok, two of those don’t count since Brian Kelly chose to ice Rose not once, but twice. It paid off as the YouTube sensation missed on his third attempt from 52 yards. In a game where we are looking for positives, I’ll take those first two makes. John Burt had a nice catch for 48 yards, roughly half of Swoopes’ passing yardage for the night.
Now the questions start creeping up. Is Swoopes really the best guy under center? Why didn’t Heard play in the second half (possible injury?)? Will Texas waste a talent like Gray with only eight touches? Can this defense hold up with so many young players on the field?
It was a tough night for Texas fans. They’ll be looking for answers tomorrow. This team is still several years from being competitive so I’m afraid they won’t like what they hear.
We’ll have more on this game tomorrow.