The Texas Longhorns handled the TCU Horned Frogs Saturday afternoon, beating them 32 — 27. Texas has not had a win in Fort Worth, Texas since 2013. The offense looked sloppy at times and struggled to throw the ball all game against an average TCU defense. Pete Kwiatkowski and Jeff Choate’s unit also struggled at times and had numerous missed tackles. Texas needed this win and fans should be excited to get it.
But the Longhorns did struggle against a mediocre TCU team and cannot play like they did Saturday if they want to contend for a Big-12 and even College Football Playoff berth. In this recap of Texas vs TCU from Week 5, I’m going to highlight something: good, bad, and surprising in this game and what it means for the future. Grab yourself your favorite beer, cocktail, or a cup of coffee and let’s run through it!
Kyle Flood has done an excellent job so far this season progressing this offensive line as run blockers. Week one and two this offensive line was getting blown off the ball. Defenders were making contact with Bijan at or behind the line of scrimmage regularly. Now, this offensive line has seemed to find their groove and has really excelled at getting a push and moving the line of scrimmage as a unit.
Texas has averaged roughly 345 yards per game on the ground in their last three games. Texas averaged roughly 154 yards per game in their first two games. The offensive line specifically excels when running outside zone and stretch plays. This allows Bijan and the other running backs to use their vision to find the hole in the defense. The interiors the offensive line is more athletic than they are powerful, especially Center Jake Majors, so getting them on the move and in front of the opposing defensive linemen works perfectly.
There were a plethora of concerns after this sloppy game against an average TCU team. The defense continued to miss tackles in the run game, special teams allowed a handful of big returns, and most troubling Casey Thompson did not look sharp. Thompson had an incredible game versus Texas Tech. He completed 18/23 passes and threw for five touchdowns. However, Saturday afternoon Thompson struggled against TCU’s defense.
Thompson only completed 12/22 passes for 142 yards, adding one touchdown and one interception. The interception was especially bad, throwing into triple coverage on a first down play. There was absolutely no need for Thompson to take that risk at that point of the game. Texas was on their own 31 yard line, leading TCU 23 — 17, with 1 minute remaining before halftime. Thompson also had a questionable decision on the 2-point conversion.
With four receivers bunched to the field side and four defenders covering them pre-snap, Thompson opted to throw an uncatchable ball to Joshua Moore on a fade route on the boundary side where he was one on one. The field side play was a screen pass designed to get Bijan the ball with blockers in front of him, seemingly an easy play to gain two yards.
Thompson had numbers and good matchups on both sides of the formation, but the one-on-one fade route is the harder throw and the way he threw it gave Joshua Moore absolutely no chance at making a play on the football. Thompson had an easy screen play to the other side where he could’ve given the ball to the best player on the field and he opted not to. That choice cost Texas two points.
The most surprising take away from Saturday’s Texas vs TCU game is that Andrej Karic has proven to be one of Texas’ five best offensive linemen. Unfortunately he was forced into the game due to Denzel Okafor being injured. After the injury, Derek Kerstetter moved to left guard while Karic came in and served as Texas’ right tackle. The move allowed Kerstetter to play at his more natural position, in my opinion.
Kerstetter excels at fighting in a phone booth and though he has some athleticism, is much better as a power player. Kerstetter is extremely valuable to this offensive line because of his positional versatility. Karic proved to be a solid pass protector on the right side. Karic also did not give up any ground in the running game and should continue to improve if he keeps the starting job.
Overall, The Longhorns had a below average day and still managed to win. That is new to Longhorn Faithful. Usually a poor performance would end up as a loss, especially to a conference rival like TCU. It may have been closer than some fans wanted, but Texas vs TCU did provide us with many reasons to be encouraged.
Next week is the biggest game of the year against Oklahoma. Texas and Casey Thompson cannot play as poorly as they did last Saturday if they want to win. Oklahoma has been vulnerable. Even though they have talent, have not been able to hone it all and dominate anyone so far this season. Texas will be the best team they face thus far and we have a legitimate chance to beat them regardless of AP Poll rankings. Get ready Longhorns Faithful, because next week will be a fun one!
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