Texas can’t handle teams spreading them out in coverage and attacking them with inside routes
This might be the most negative overreactions list for the Longhorns following any win this season. But that is why this is a list of overreactions.
Texas has multiple issues it needs to address if it wants to stay atop the Big 12 standings and remain in the race for a spot in the College Football Playoff down the stretch during the regular season.
A big problem Texas has encountered in Big 12 play this season has been facing pass-happy teams. Opponents like Houston, Oklahoma, and TCU have given Texas fits when they spread them out and attack them through the air. Kansas State was also able to slice and dice Texas through the air to the tune of over 325 passing yards (most of which came in the second half) in the Longhorns’ Week 10 win over the Wildcats.
TCU, Kansas State, Houston, and Oklahoma were all able to muster over 275 passing yards in their games against Texas. They also did so efficiently, completing over 60 percent of their passing attempts.
One particular way these Big 12 teams have picked apart Texas through the air is with inside-breaking and angle routes. Some of Texas’ linebackers and safeties have been slow to identify and pick up crossing routes this season, leading to easy gains over the middle in coverage.
But not all the blame can be placed on Texas’ linebackers and safeties. The defensive backs have been burned on multiple occasions on inside routes this season. Even senior nickelback Jahdae Barron was beaten on a couple of passing plays in one-on-one man coverage against TCU.
Here are the numbers for Texas facing inside-breaking routes this season in Big 12 play.
- 33-of-54 passing
- 578 passing yards (most in Big 12)
- 5 passing touchdowns (most in Big 12)
- 3 interceptions
At least Texas does have those three interceptions that show something positive coming from their production in coverage against inside routes in Big 12 play.
As some of the younger Texas defensive backs get more reps in coverage this season, such as true freshman cornerback Malik Muhammad and true freshman safety Derek Williams Jr., the secondary play and concept identification will improve. But I would expect this is an area opponents will continue to exploit in the passing game with different spread formations to get easy looks with inside routes over the middle until Texas figures this out down the stretch.