Jerrod Heard, Offensive Line Squander Late Oct. Momentum


Texas fans didn’t see any Jerrod Heard magic on Halloween night. They did see the offensive line have another nightmare of a game.

Everyone knows this Texas team goes as Jerrod Heard goes. He is the catalyst that make the offense go. He pumps up the defense to make plays to get him the ball back.

All that was missing on Saturday. Heard didn’t make plays. Texas’ offense sputtered and went three-and-out too many times. That put the defense right back on the field. It quickly became a tired group that couldn’t get off the field as Iowa State controlled the line of scrimmage and the clock.

But Heard isn’t the only player to have earned the blame in a 24-0 embarrassing loss to the Cyclones.

The offensive line didn’t pave the way for the run game to get established. Texas ran for just 119 yards on 32 carries. The longest run was a 13-yard scamper by Tyrone Swoopes. Jonathan Gray couldn’t get going as Texas repeatedly went three and out. The Longhorns converted just two of 13 third down attempts.

Charlie Strong was not pleased with how the line performed against a weak Cyclone front four.

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“You always feel like that you want to dominate at the line of scrimmage,” Strong said in the post game news conference. “Our offensive line, we want them to help us throw around the football, and defensively we need to stop the run. We all know that we cannot be one-dimensional, if they load the box with men we need to be able to throw the ball.”

The book is out on Heard. Make him beat you with his arm. Iowa State played a lot of zone, often dropping eight players back while counting on the front three defenders to make Heard uncomfortable. He is still a run-first quarterback. He drops his eyes too quickly and looks to run – a problem that plagued Swoopes last season. It’s not uncommon for a young, athletic quarterback to rely on his physical ability early in his career. As he matures the passing aspect usually begins to develop – just look at Trevone Boykin.

Heard needs to learn to trust his arm and his receivers, something Strong says should happen more often.

“You have take shots, and when it is time to take shots you have to let the ball go,” Strong said when asked about the play calling. “We had the opportunities, but you have to be able to release the ball, and let the receivers make the plays. The receiver is not always going to be open when you let go of the ball, but you have to give those guys a shot.”

Texas has very good athletes at the receiver position. Heard needs to get the ball to these guys; give them a chance to win some contested throws. John Burt is a natural at going up and high-pointing the ball. Let him make a play for you.

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Jay Norvell hinted that the coaching staff will be re-evaluating the quarterback position ahead of the Kansas game. There should be no second-guessing – this is Heard’s team and he is the future of the program. He needs to continue starting so he can learn how to overcome adversity and right the ship. Crucial games against West Virginia and Texas Tech follow. This is not the time to muddle the quarterback position.

Having said that, Heard must do his part and make the appropriate adjustments. Complete some passes downfield and the running lanes will appear. Teams have learned his tendencies and now he needs to modify his game to overcome what the defense throws at him.

The offensive line needs to come out with its hair on fire and start blowing up the opposition’s defensive line. We are still waiting for Joe Wickline to work his magic with this group. Fans are losing patience with the inconsistencies along the line. No more excuses, get the job done.

It’s crunch time if Texas hopes to become bowl eligible. And it all starts at the quarterback and offensive line positions.