Posted: 8:00 a.m. Monday, Sept. 16, 2013
By Michael H. Pelech
By the end of Texas's 44-23 loss to Ole Miss, one thing was clear: Ole Miss, despite being a very flawed team, was very much so a better team than Texas. The Longhorns were able to ride a wave of emotion through a first half, building a 23-14 lead in the 2nd quarter behind a well called game from Major Applewhite and a clean game from Greg Robinson's defense. In the 2nd half, it became clear which team was held together with duct tape and gum, and which team had been building a cohesive system for two years. The Ole Miss defense was able to capitalize on Case McCoy's limitations, and the Ole Miss offense was able to pick apart the Texas defense's one page playbook.
16 - 132 (8.25) - 14: Ole Miss first two drives plays - yards (yards per play) - points
19 - 75 (3.95) - 3: Ole Miss next five drives plays - yards (yards per play) - points
30 - 220 (7.33) - 27: Ole Miss next five drives plays - yards (yards per play) - points
The Texas defense operated in three segments against Ole Miss: the first two drives, where Ole Miss marched effortlessly down the field and put up 14 points; the next five drives, where the Texas defensive front was able to control the line of scrimmage and force two punts and a loss of downs, snagged a fumble, and was a poor targeting penalty call away from preventing a late half field goal; and the remainder of the game (not including the final two drives of clock killing), where Ole Miss put up 27 points on five drives with 3 offensive scores, a punt return TD, and a lone punt. The second half of work was methodical and meticulous. Hugh Freeze's Rebels, in the second year of their offense, was able to get the right mix of calls without any concern of defensive adjustment, using the same set of base offensive calls.
Greg Robinson was able to get good production out of the first half, but 3 practices is not enough to fix what all is broken with that defense.
19 - 164 (8.63) - 1; 1 - 73 - 1: Jeff Scott rushes - rushing yards (yards per carry) - rushing TDs; punt returns - return yards - return TDs
8 - 13: 8 of the last 13 Texas opponents had their leading rusher set a career high rushing mark against Texas
Jeff Scott, basically running the same speed sweep to the outside all game long, was able to carve the Texas run defense throughout the game like many Texas opponents before him. It has gotten to the point that, of Texas's last 13 opponents, 8 have had their leading rusher set a career high rushing mark against Texas (bonus ITN points if you can name them).
4 - 14: Texas offensive 3rd down conversions - 3rd down opportunities
2 - 2 - 4: Texas offensive redzone touchdowns - redzone field goals - redzone opportunities
3rd down conversions and red zone touchdown rate are strong indicators of the quality of your quarterback play, and the Texas offense just couldn't do enough in either metric. Despite a solid game from Case McCoy (more on him later), the Texas offense managed a paltry 28.6% conversion rate on third down, and only converted 2 of the 4 redzone chances into TDs (with another drive stalling at the 30 yardline). David Ash's return will be huge for getting anything out of this season, as the defense is nowhere near strong enough to hold teams to under 20 points.
With many more of these defeating, empty losses likely on the horizon, Inside the Numbers may make the Salute to Effort and Competency a weekly deal. Despite an overall deflating team effort, there wasn't much quit in these Texas Longhorns, and the following five are guys that displayed either solid effort or sufficient competency to earn a tip of the cap.
19 - 91 (4.8) - 1: Johnathan Gray rush attempts - rushing yards (yards per carry) - rushing TDs
24-36 (66.7), 196 (5.44), 1-0: Case McCoy completions-attempts (completion %), passing yards (YPA), TDs-INTs
3 - 3 (47):Anthony Fera made field goals - field goal attempts (long)
For the second week in a row, Johnathan Gray had a workmanlike game behind a less than stellar offensive line. With Texas getting nothing out of Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron in the run game last two weeks, Gray has kept his head down and maximized his few opportunities. I hope his effort is rewarded with a competent coaching staff and surrounding cast before his time at Texas is up.
Case McCoy, despite all his limitations, turned out a solid effort that may grade out as his best performance at Texas. He finally seemed cognizant of his limitations, didn't commit any turnovers despite 36 pass attempts (though he was close a few times), and kept the ship afloat early on. I'm among his largest of skeptics, but I was pleased with what we got from the senior back-up.
Mike Davis, Jaxon Shipley, and Kendall Sanders showed why they were assumed to be the best three WRs on the Texas roster against Ole Miss. They were the passing game, and continually executed a conservative gameplan by being sure handed downfield, blocking for each other in the screen game, and maximizing runs in that screen game with explosiveness. With no threat of anything downfield, the WR group put together a solid night of offense.
Anthony Fera hasn't missed a field goal! In his best night as a Longhorn, the Penn State transfer converted a pair of redzone FGs and a 47 yarder.
Sedrick Flowers took over for the injured Mason Walters early in the first scoring drive of the game, and Kennedy Estelle took over for the injured Josh Cochran late in the next drive. The two sophomores put together a solid night in their longest performances at Texas, including strong efforts in the run game in the first half. Many of Johnathan Gray's long runs in the first half came over that right side of the line. Walters has been the least effective of the starting five, and Flowers now has the opportunity to be a big upgrade at RG. Cochran has been solid at RT, but Estelle may be given a strong chance to take over, seeing as the injury was to Cochran's previously injured left shoulder.
1 - 2: Texas wins - losses
Despite the 2013 non-conference schedule being the toughest Texas has faced in years, a 1-2 record with 2 blowout losses is about as inexcusable as it gets. And with the schedule now reading vs. Kansas State, vs. Iowa State, vs. OU, and @ TCU, a 2-5 record entering November is a strong possibility.