Archive for October, 2015

Texas-ISU Postmortem: Offense

Posted by    |    October 31st, 2015 at 11:30 pm

Well, that was frightening.

I could envision a loss to ISU, but it looked something like a 31-28 shootout with wild swings of momentum and dumb turnovers or mistakes killing our chances for victory.  I can’t say a 24-0 old school ass kicking where our staff got taken to school like they were first graders was anticipated in my game outcomes.

The Texas offense turned in a performance that made me misty-eyed for the heady days of Shawn Watson.  OK, not quite, but that was absolutely horrendous.  The Cyclones have only five or six sentient life forms on defense and they crushed us simply by playing hard and implementing some basic rules from film study.  A primitive Longhorn passing game and offensive game plan guaranteed the shutout.

Offense

Jay Norvell has publicly lobbied for retention as the Longhorn OC and I’ve repeatedly counseled caution despite some promising early returns.  A game like tonight is a good illustration of why.  The Longhorns abandoned the QB lead running game that served us so well against OU and KSU, showed regression in every basic concept of the passing game and we saw the same mistakes that characterize our play at every position.   We didn’t do anything to exploit ISU’s injured, subpar secondary and the play calls that weren’t sabotaged by player error were more scaled down than Heard’s first start against Cal.  Were we sandbagging for…Kansas?

There is no place where poor teaching, bad execution and mindless play combine more obviously than in our outside WR screen game.  It was there for us by simple formation for most of the game.  We got nothing out of it.  The ball doesn’t get out quickly or accurately enough, it’s not thrown to the proper shoulder – so the receiver has already sacrificed momentum or has to twist or elevate to catch it, the receiver doesn’t set up properly and we don’t understand the geometry of the play, the blockers blow their assignment routinely (Andrew Beck) and the guy who catches it doesn’t even understand where the defensive help is coming or where the play is blocked to go.  This is a concept most 5A Texas High School teams can execute.

OL

The Doyle-Flowers Blunder Twin Powers combination has been discussed here so much that I might just start writing SAME SHIT, DIFFERENT SATURDAY.  Knowing that our QB will be sacked or pressured by any sentient defensive being who wants to run between Flowers and Doyle on 20% of passing downs is a bit of a crimp to the offense and the most amazing thing is that it keeps happening over and over and for the same exact reasons.  Do they need couples counseling?  Why are they incapable of basic communication?  Why do they keep turning their shoulders when they’re not engaged and allowing a late stunting T/E stunt or delayed LB to sprint through?  The House Flowers crest is a guy jogging behind a free defender with the motto LOOK OUT stenciled in silver.

Flowers surrendered an early drive killing sack when he turned his shoulders and allowed an clear path to a twisting DE.  At the end of the first half, on a crucial 3rd and 5 near our endzone, Flowers and Doyle allowed #97 Tucker to sprint right between them to pressure Heard into an incompletion and near interception.  ISU was rushing 3 on that play.  We punted, ISU scored.  They got destroyed heads up on running plays a couple of times as well, putting us into 2nd and 13 and 2nd and 11, respectively.  The coaches eventually benched Flowers for not competing, but the game was already over at 17-0.

For what it’s worth, Vahe, Perkins and Williams had several more than acceptable plays, but they were good swimmers surrounded by clingy drowning men.

RB

Gray ran for exactly what it was blocked for per usual, Warren only had two carries to show his wares and D’onta Foreman got his first carry near the middle of the 3rd quarter.  He’s less than 100% and I guess the coaches threw him in because why not?

WR/TE

Our passing game is so remedial, they’re basically irrelevant.  We were running streak routes on 3rd and short against off coverage and we ran a couple of man beaters against zone.  On several passing downs in the second half, we ran a max protection scheme with only three men on routes covered by eight ISU defenders.  We only attempted 3 downfield passes during meaningful game action.

QB

Jerrod Heard made poor decisions, was left aimlessly drifting to the sideline by covered wide receivers or early pressure, had no answers for 8 men in coverage when our receivers were running non-routes and should have had three interceptions instead of 1.  He was even running tentatively.  Tyrone Swoopes came in to run the Tyroneasaurus package on normal downs in the late second quarter, was very effective, so we immediately shitcanned it for the rest of the game after a three yard loss when Swoopes unwisely tried to bounce it outside instead of take four yards.

Swoopes was later inserted for an ineffective Heard and he missed Daje Johnson for what would have been a wide open walk-in touchdown.  In Ames, our offensive coaches and players were engaged in a mutual game of sabotage.

Defenses have now compiled film on Heard, understand his weaknesses (and those of our personnel and scheme) and our coaches haven’t done anything to adjust to those adjustments.  While I’m sympathetic and am aware of our limitations, that’s on Norvell and his offensive staff.  If we can’t progress past the postage stamp play sheet – or at least execute it really well with some built-in counters (speaking of, our actual delay counter was also absent from the game plan) this offense will turn in more stinkers.

Conclusion

Our problems on offense are multifactorial and that won’t change without steep upgrades in talent, improvement by graduation, better teaching, experience, progressing Heard and hiring an offensive coordinator in the offseason.

Shooting From the Hip: Iowa State 24, Texas 0

Posted by    |    October 31st, 2015 at 10:43 pm

A Halloween horror show like no other.S

Offense

Fitting that we’d follow the script from a bad horror movie on Halloween.  Predictably cliched failures landed Texas in a location as perilous as any abandoned summer camp or chainsaw-filled basement:  The Land Behind the Chains.  And then they turned The Puzzle of Third and Six into something between Saw III and the Lament Configuration from Hellraiser – ominous, insoluble and a ticket to hide-your-eyes gore.

It’s usually the teens’ mistakes that pave the road to disaster in most splatter flicks, but the nominal adults were the ones leading the charge into perdition in this one.  Only my long-lasting regret over dropping an actual F-bomb on Steve Edmond in a prior post-gamer prevents me from making the same mistake here, so I’ll just say that Sed Flowers turned in an absolutely shameful effort.  Allowing penetration in the run game, generating zero movement and somehow regressing from “lost” to “possibly point shaving” in his disastrous efforts against simple, telegraphed T-E stunts.  The left side A gap returned to a pure house of horrors, and while Taylor Doyle’s play left plenty to be desired it was a non-competitive effort from #66.  The staff finally kicked Perkins inside and threw Tristan Nickelson back into the fire at RT, but the damage was done.

Johnathan Gray’s effort wasn’t lacking, but the results certainly were.  While it’s not fair to ask a guy to consistently transcend his blocking, a P5 runner just has to turn none into two and two into four and three into seven and one-guy-swiped-your-ankle into something more than five yards more than one time a game.  D’Onta Foreman’s foot injury was absolutely murderous – a breakaway would have been manna from Heaven, but those simple, extra two and three yards could have made a major difference.

It might not have mattered, though, as Texas also pulled a Deep Blue Sea tonight – just when you were waiting for the name-above-the-title headliner to lead a heroic escape he got suddenly, messily and comprehensively devoured.

While many sins can be laid at Shawn Watson’s feet, but skepticism about Jerrod Heard’s potential as a passer might not have been one of them.  Heard looked completely and utterly lost in just about every passing situation – baffled by simple zone drops, self-pressuring against benign three-man rushes and tossing inexplicable balls to ISU defenders.  It’s hard to think of a single thing we did to help him out – not attacking downfield off-schedule, not running any recognizable route combinations and allowing the aforementioned absurd A-gap pressure – but Heard’s execution was simply abysmal.  The confident passer we saw against Cal – or even against Okie State prior to the Marcus Hutchins Experience – has gone absolutely AWOL.

Potentially triggering a QB controversy that looks like Marsellus Wallace chasing Butch after the car crash in Pulp Fiction, Swoopes made some regular Tyroneasaurus appearances and then took the reins for an utterly ineffective Heard once it was all over but the cryin’.  An inexplicable decision to try and bounce a Single Wing run outside against a pair of dudes with outside leverage was a meteor strike for Tyroneasaurus, and aside from that he played like the guy we’ve thought he is – big, good in a straight line, awful moving laterally, live arm, slow processing and dubious downfield acccuracy.  His miss on an absolutely uncovered Daje Johnson blew out hope like a candle in a storm, and even a cosmetic last-gasp drive came up empty.

We may have had wide open guys on some sexy Four Verticals options happening off-screen, but what was on the screen showed next to no ability to work guys open by beating defensive leverage or – for at least the fourth time this season – even the beginnings of a plan for making multiple spies pay for hanging within five yards of the LOS.  I won’t pretend to totally unpack calls from execution after a single viewing, but Norvell looked to go from this:

lando1

to this:

in a real hurry.

Defense

The Cyclone’s final rub-it-in drive left a particularly bad taste, but the O bears the lion’s share for this fiasco as prior to that the D held Iowa State to seventeen points against the tide of constant three-and-outs from the O and consistently luxurious field position.  With that said, there were plenty of mind-numbing botches that helped Iowa State along their way and plenty of unforced errors by the Red and Gold that kept an embarrassing score from turning full-blown hideous.

The Longhorns just aren’t well equipped to handle legitimate Read Option attacks, as dubious reads and outright assignment busts on traditional looks and blitzes continually hand out free candy.  The annoying but ultimately harmless runs from KSU’s Charles Jones as Texas keyed on Hubener last week turned a lot more harmful when a superior back in Mike Warren was abetted by his QB’s ground game success and an ugly-but-functional passing game.  All of Texas’ LBs failed to read keys properly as traditional LBs, and several times the edge defender crashed hard and crushed our chances by allowing Lanning a cake-and-candy pull and stroll for 10+.  Most maddening was bizarre blitz execution that routinely saw Diaz-style DL loops and one-side overloads while leaving a gap – or occasionally two gaps – wide ass open for handoffs or simple escapes on 3rd and long.

3rd and long continued to be a house of horrors for Strong and Bedford, but while the coverage botches were limited the simple inability to put a dead-to-rights QB on the ground in the backfield played a hand in at least two scores and keeping the Longhorns consistently buried inside their own 10 yard line when we did force a stop.  This hasn’t been a particularly poor tackling team outside of Haines, but cashing in sacks has been this team’s Kryptonite and it played a major role in burying us tonight.  They bagged Lanning a few times – Cottrell had a couple of nice moments and Naashon Hughes had a couple of hits among several, several misses – but this team is out of luxuries at this point and free conversions for the opposing O has to be the first thing to go.

Most of the Cyclones’ passing game was focused on attacking Devante Davis at left corner, and while he acquitted himself reasonably well through the bulk of the game he started slipping in time with the team’s overall ebbing fortunes.  Holton Hill was the right kind of invisible through the bulk of the game, but became the wrong kind of visible late – peeking in the backfield when you’ve got a deep third of the field is just mind-numbing.  As the game got out of reach, Lanning was able to find wide-open guys on every escape to his right – making you wonder how tough it really is to make that a staple for a QB who’s always escaping to his right.

There might not have been a winning effort to be found in this one outside of literally pitching a shutout and running in a Pick Six, but the final three games of the season will be an outright death march if this bunch doesn’t clean up its game against far more capable O’s.

Special Teams

Daje’s dubious decision to field a punt at the six yard line put Texas in jail on an early possession, and while it’s not his fault that they stayed there for well over a quarter it was symptomatic of a night where tying on ST’s was nowhere close to good enough.  Nothing you can do about the ISU punter’s All-Conference execution in pinning Texas inside the 10 like a luckless butterfly in an 8th grade bug collection, but another ho-hum effort on kick return ensured that the Longhorns’ sodden compost heap of an offense couldn’t find anything resembling a spark.

The Bottom Line

There’s no shine for this one – it was a wretched effort that torches almost every bit of momentum that Texas earned against OU and K-State while putting the offense all the way back to Square One.  Strong, the staff and the team pulled the season back from the brink following an absolute debacle against TCU – unfortunately, it’s easy to make the case that this game was worse.  If they’re unable to turn the same trick, this Halloween horror show could mark the death of more than Texas’ bowl hopes.

Hook ’em.

Saturday CFB Open Thread

Posted by    |    October 31st, 2015 at 12:27 pm

A spooky Saturday in college football?

Prior to tonight’s 6:00 PM kick in Ames – in a game that’s seen some eyebrow-raising line movement in the Cyclones’ direction over the course of the week – there are some intriguing games on tap.

Can Greg Davis’ bio-fueled offensive juggernaut continue its unstoppable march towards the College Football Playoff?

Can Oklahoma State’s undefeated season survive a bell ringin’, penicillin swillin’ trip to Lubbock?

And, most hilariously, can Texas A&M honk to a patently dreadful South Carolina squad at home?

Cuss & discuss below.

Texas Basketball Scrimmage Recap: I Mean It This Time

Posted by    |    October 31st, 2015 at 12:26 am

Thanks to the Internet – purveyor of highly classified information from the likes of Edward Snowden and Ray J – I was able to snag the basketball equivalent of the Zapruder film: full video of the Texas Longhorns Orange/White basketball scrimmage. I can’t really reveal how I got it lest I bite the hand that feeds, but suffice it to say I directly benefited from nobody understanding the concept of confidential any more. Thanks for over-sharing everything, Millenials, this makes all the Instagrams of your McDonald’s meals worth it! (I lied, please stop photographing your french fries.) Much like the football spring game, they kept things fairly vanilla so there’s a limit on how much you can take from the game, but it’s still interesting to see some live action from the first Texas squad Shaka Smart is fielding. I jotted down some notes from the 30 minutes of scrimmage action & I’ll separate it into 2 sections: the team & individual players.

Team Notes

  • Neither team played much zone, and when they did it was a pretty traditional 2-3 zone. One thing I noticed is the guards on the far side of the zone sagged further off their man than Barnes’ zone. Whether that’s by design – it could help defensively as long as the offense can’t pass over the top of the defense – or guys over-committing remains to be seen.
  • The full-court trap showed up intermittently, and it still needs work. The basic idea is there, but they obviously still need to drill on the finer points of the Double FIST press. I saw an instance where the trap was defeated because the 2nd defender was allowing the ball-handler an angle to escape; if the defender is there a half-step sooner and/or shows up a half-step to the proper side, the trap is set. I also saw the press getting broken because of interceptors(the 2nd line of defense, usually wings) over-committing to a specific guy which left somebody wide open. This will get better over time, but I can see why Shaka is hesitant to trap a lot.
  • Speaking of the trap, there were a couple of times when Cameron Ridley was the trapper. It sounds like a bad idea, but in reality it only happened when the big he was guarding(usually Lammert) was the inbounds man and the opportunity presented itself. In other words, he wasn’t freelancing, he was making a choice based off specific circumstances. I don’t think this is something that should happen much during the season, but it probably won’t. This seems more likely to be something Lammert/Ibeh does.
  • I’m thinking Texas will be blocking less shots this year than in the past, and not just because Myles Turner has moved on. The defense seems more like a straight-up man defense designed to keep the ball in front of them rather than a system to funnel the guards into the paint for a block party.
  • There don’t need to be more than 2 of these 3 guys on the floor for any length of time: Cameron Ridley, Prince Ibeh, and Isaiah Taylor. I don’t mean that as a knock on any one of them individually because they all have their roles, they just clog up the offensive end of the floor when they’re all out there together. I have ideas on how the rotation can work, but I’m holding onto that until I see the team playing games that matter.
  • There were a few pick & roll combinations being utilized in the scrimmage, but the one that piqued my interest the most was Kerwin Roach & Connor Lammert. I like the combination of speed, outside shooting, & agility those two can bring to bear on a defense and that could be very fruitful for this offense.
  • Cam & Shaquille Cleare must beat the hell out of each other in practice; those are two big dudes who know how to hold their ground on a court.
  • As a side note, Kendal Yancy is #5 this year. He handed #0 over to Tevin Mack.

Player Notes

Demarcus Holland

  • I’m going to miss the shit out of Demarcus Holland when he’s graduated. He’s an absolute pleasure to watch on the defensive end of the floor; I feel confident in saying he’s the best defender Texas has had since Royal Ivey. He was out there erasing people from the stat sheet all scrimmage long, to the point that I don’t know how much I can grade what Isaiah Taylor was doing because Holland was co-signing a lease agreement on an efficiency apartment inside Zay’s shirt. People need to appreciate what he brings to this team.

Isaiah Taylor

  • I was hopeful Zay’s 3 ball would look improved, but I’m not seeing a lot from his perimeter shot(albeit in a small sample size). It’s not so much that he went 1-6 from 3, it’s that he didn’t look comfortable shooting those 6 3s. He’s not really squaring up when he shoots it; I’m hoping it looks better during the season because it’s the only real glaring problem in his game.

Javan Felix

  • The Good: all 5 of his 3s were good decisions. The fact that he only went 1-5 from 3 doesn’t concern me because the decision-making was solid; if he keeps picking his spots like that, they’ll fall eventually. Also good: he didn’t sag as far off his man as he has in previous years. Simply not planting a foot in the paint on defense will help him be a better defender this year.
  • The Bad: Felix is basically maxed out as a player. To be fair to Javan, maxing out as a D1 contributor is higher than most reach; having said that, the limits of his defensive ability come into focus against, oh, I don’t know, this guy:

Lil bro be soaring in the Air @KLR_doce #HighlightsComingSoon pic.twitter.com/gH5tzyjSYQ

— KY5 (@KYancy5) September 30, 2015

Roach was abusing Felix repeatedly in the scrimmage, and it wasn’t one of those ‘oh he got lucky with a couple bounces’ kind of nights. Kerwin Roach has NBA-level athleticism and Javan can’t reliably guard a guy like that. Fortunately, there aren’t many guards like Kerwin Felix will face this season. I don’t plan to predict how many minutes Javan will get this season, but my hunch is it won’t be at or above the 23 & change he averaged last year.

Kerwin Roach

  • I know everybody’s excited about Kerwin’s numbers in the scrimmage, but I’m going to tap the brakes on the excitement for who he was – and wasn’t – guarded by in the scrimmage. He’s got a world of potential and his offensive game seems more refined than I initially expected, but it was just one scrimmage. His ceiling is arguably the highest on the team, but I need to see more before I start tweeting Youtube clips to the Celtics.
  • As an aside, his handle was pretty good. I think he spells Zay at the point more than I originally guessed.

Tevin Mack

  • That was the quietest 7-11 shooting night I’ve seen in awhile. I think he did fine, he just got lost in the shuffle while I was watching everything else. Note to self: pay more attention to the guy shooting 63% from the floor. I feel like Scott Drew.

Prince Ibeh

  • I’m already on record as being high on what Prince can do this season, but there wasn’t a ton to see in the scrimmage. He had his moments though, and these are two that illustrate what I think he can do all season if he keeps his eyes open & his feet moving:

2 things to notice here: 1) Roach’s awesome pass 2) Ibeh’s anticipation leading to a great swat #HookEm pic.twitter.com/xrG8CxaDYA

— El Diablo Blanco (@Bitterwhiteguy) October 31, 2015

Eric Davis

  • Eric shoots a nice free throw, and it’s smooth enough he could be a viable option in the last 2-3 minutes of a tight game.
  • I have hope for Eric defensively as well, I think his brain needs to catch up to his body. The effort is there though.

Jordan Barnett

  • Jordan’s stroke looked solid and overall he seems like he’s just about there. He’s missing something though, and I can’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe it’s as simple as a needing a little more confidence/decisiveness in his movement, I’m still mulling it over. I’m cautiously optimistic he’ll figure it out though.

Shaquille Cleare

  • Shaq has a better handle than I expected. He’s not the second coming of Anthony Davis or anything, but he can help advance the ball against a press. It’s one of the few things he does appreciably better than Cam.
  • Shaq & Prince weight almost the same, but carry their weight so much differently.

Overall I liked a lot of what I saw, and nothing I saw in the film changes my opinion that this team could flirt with the top-25 and finish in the top half of the conference standings.

The Texas Pregamer: Iowa State

Posted by    |    October 30th, 2015 at 2:51 am

After a hefty early schedule full of heavyweight opponents, Texas seems to have turned a corner. It would be a shame to miss this massive chance to get back to .500 and one win closer to the mouth-watering goal of bowling December.

Last week, Texas feasted between the numbers – throwing their weight around in the trenches in a way that, well, we haven’t seen much of recently. Big is the new sexy folks. Swallowing yard after yard, and basically out K-Stating K-State.

The Tyronasauras. Tybow Package. The 18 Wheeler. Swooptimus Prime. Double Down with Cheese. Whatever you want to call it – we will take a super sized version of of that goodness every single time.

Sure, its not the finesse game most of us are used to, and some may not have the stomach for it. But when it works, it works. More cushion for the pushing we always say.

This week we play an upset minded Iowa State on Halloween. If we can get a similar push up front this week, a hefty point margin may just be in the works. But don’t sleep on Iowa State. Ole Pappa Rhoads always has one stout game plan in him every year. Let’s hope he wastes the girth of his luck last week hanging with Baylor for a respectable portion of the game. Zatfig.

Editors note: In light of changes on to the Iowa State coach staff, the Pregamer opening has been rewritten. We totally didn’t recycle any joke material we were originally going to use… promise.

trivia new

Better Know a Roster

Fun Facts

A quick glance at the numbers behind Iowa State reveal a roster breakdown of:
64 Iowans

  • 53 Freshman
  • 15 Seniors
  • 23 Texans
  • 3 Jesuits School
  • 4 Catholic Schools
  • 11 Community College Transfers
  • 3 Rhoads
  • 0 Manginos
The Players:
  • Qujuan Floyd (DB) – New rule. If you play CC ball within visual distance of my apartment, you end up on this list. (SanMo Fighting Corsairs!). Name is only have as cool as his mom’s (Shermanita)
  • Jordan Wallace (DB) – Marks the moment I first realized kids born in 1997 are playing college football now.
  • Wyatt Rhoads (WR) – What a great story – kid grows up in Ames and has the same last name as College head coach. Heck – their dads even share the same name. What a crazy world.
  • Jake Rhoads (WR) – The “hair” of the family. Also another Rhoads who grew up in Ames. Is everyone in Iowa related to each other?
  • Sheldon Croney Jr. (RB) – This dude’s uncle is Pittsburgh LB Joey Porter. You can not pay me enough money to make fun of anyone related to Joey Porter.
  • Stephon Pickett-Brown (DB) – Last name is destined to end up as some congressional act your kids will have to remember in school. (Damn you Hawley-Smoot Tarriff of 1930!)
  • Nigel Tribune (DB) – Has transition well to his role as starting DB, making second team Big 12 All American last year. You could say Tribune (put on shades) Headlined for the defense. Man I’m funny.
  • J.D. Waggoner (DE) – vote most likely to make a cameo on Gunsmoke by his fellow teammates

Fashion-Subhead

forecast nw

Predictions:

TejasChaos: as of the this week, I’ve have had more vascular surgeries than Mark Mangino. Texas wins by 6.

VYPumpfake: Emotional Loss Rhoads > Inspirational Win Rhoads. Texas wins by six with a missed PA.

Kyle Carpenter: My Halloween costume? A giant .500 sign. Texas wins.

Parting Shot:

Never gets old.