These Longhorns Aren’t Fun, But Effective


The Longhorns ground attack becoming the staple of this offense.

The term basketball-on-grass was coined to describe the outbreak of up tempo, high octane spread offenses that racked up yards and points at will.  With that in mind, I humbly submit the term golf-on-the-gridiron to describe the Texas Longhorn’s new offensive identity, because it is about as fun as watching a high school golf tournament.

It is also very effective.

The Longhorns have won two straight and put themselves in excellent position to gain bowl eligibility by simply pounding the ball.  If you’re like me and enjoy seeing a forward pass thrown now and again, watching a Longhorns game isn’t very entertaining.  I spent a good chunk of Saturday flipping over to the Baylor and Clemson games when I just couldn’t stand to watch another one of the 48 different ways Texas can run a dive play.

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However, for the first time in years, Texas has a solid offensive identity that fits the personnel.  Had they adopted the same tactic from the get go against TCU, that game would have played out much differently.  If they can continue to run the ball the rest of the way, they can likely salvage a season that was swirling the drain three short weeks ago.

For this sudden success, a lot of credit needs to be directed at OL coach Joe Wickline.  I have been highly critical of Wickline this season as his O line was pretty much non-existent against Notre Dame and caved in once Kent Perkins left the Oklahoma State game. However, Wickline’s charges have suddenly become a force. In the last two games, Texas has run for 587 yards at an average of 5.3 yards per carry.  They’ve collected 30 first downs on the ground and scored four rushing touchdowns while converting 16-31 third down conversions.

That’s a far cry from the offense that could barely even line up right against Notre Dame.  These Longhorns do indeed get “nasty” and “in your face” as Jerrod Heard had promised during the week.  In a conference full of defenses built to battle basketball-on-grass spreads, Texas will be at a decided advantage with their new-found ground game.

If it gets Texas to a bowl game, and more importantly, puts an end to the dismal performances that we’ve been subjected to countless times over the first year and half of Charlie Strong’s regime, then it will be worth it. As much as I’d love to see more balance and more excitement, I’d take a boring slugfest like Saturday’s game a hundred times before I had to slog through another Notre Dame or TCU game.

Texas Longhorns
Texas Longhorns /

Texas Longhorns

Luckily for Texas, those days appear to be in the rearview mirror, at least for now.  Iowa State and Kansas should both be wins and West Virginia and Texas Tech, while they are good, are both winnable, especially if Texas can continue to solidify themselves on both sides of the ball.  Baylor, well, let’s not talk about them yet.

Of course, the obvious problem to a ground bound attack likes Texas’ is that they are one dimensional.  You can bet that every team Texas faces from here on out is going to load the box and dare Heard to beat them with his arm.  Other than the Cal game, he hasn’t proven that he can do that.  Iowa State and Kansas probably won’t have the athletes to make that work, so you can expect more of the same over the next two weeks.

After that, all bets may be off.  I still believe that Texas is going to have to discover a passing game.  I just don’t think that a team can be successful in the Big 12 running 80% of the time. For now, though, it is working and that success has changed the direction of the season.

So it may be boring and it might be ugly, but as long as the Horns keep winning, I think we’ll all take it.

Next: Longhorns hang on to beat Kansas State, Mother Nature