Sep 12, 2015; Austin, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong (center) talks to his team against the Rice Owls during the first quarter at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports
Even though the Texas Longhorns had a much better performance against Rice on Saturday, there is still lots of work to be done.
Following an embarrassing loss to Notre Dame in Week 1, the Texas Longhorns not only needed to win against Rice, they also needed to show progress. Well, under the leadership of new starting quarterback Jerrod Heard, Texas did just that, as they comfortably defeated Rice 42-28.
The final score does not depict a true picture, though, as Rice did out gain the Longhorns offensively and dominated time of possession by a margin of 44:02 to 15:58. If it wasn’t for five turnovers from the Owls and a special teams touchdown, the scoreboard might have been a lot closer.
Either way, the Longhorns finally got into the win column, snapping a three-game losing streak that dates back to last season. Going forward, the Longhorns still have a lot to improve, but in the meantime, here are four thoughts from Texas’ win over Rice.
1. The front seven has to be better
Last season, the front seven of Texas’ defence was its strength. So far this season its been anything but that. Considered a major strength entering the season, the Longhorns defensive line has been dominated in back-to-back weeks by Notre Dame and Rice.
Texas had their fair share of explosive plays on Saturday night that led to quick scores, but for the most part, Rice ran the ball at will on Texas. Take the first half for example where the Owls held the ball for 13 minutes and 6 seconds longer than the Longhorns. Of course, much of that had to do with Texas’ inability to hold Rice on third down, as the Owls converted on 8-of-12 third-down attempts in the first half. The majority of those third down conversions were against zone defences. But if defensive coordinator Vance Bedford wants to play zone on third down situations, the front seven, particularly the front four, has to do a better job of applying pressure.
Against better teams like TCU, Oklahoma and Baylor, the Longhorns inability to create pressure up front will cost them. Bedford could dial-up more blitzes, but at the same time that will leave his young defensive backs vulnerable in match coverage. Either way, the Texas front seven was supposed to be a strength entering the season, and to be blunt, we’re yet to see this unit perform anywhere near that level.
Next: Jerrod Heard looks to be the Longhorns quarterback