Grading the Offense vs Rice

Discussion in 'On The Field' started by Godz40acres, Sep 21, 2021.

  1. Godz40acres

    Godz40acres Happy Feller

    Eight touchdown drives contributed to the program’s largest margin of victory since 2005 while the 427 yards rushing the Longhorns piled up made for the most prolific ground performance on the Forty Acres since 2011.

    Thompson had a performance similar to the one Hudson Card put together in the team's season-opening win over Louisiana. The difference in Thompson’s outing on Saturday was Steve Sarkisian’s game plan, which schemed around Texas' issues along the offensive line and created a decent volume of high-percentage throws for the quarterback where he could get the ball out of his hands quickly and let his perimeter playmakers work in space.

    Thompson's legs weren't needed in terms of being a featured part of the offense, but he was decisive and effective on the few occasions when he had to pull the ball down and run to keep plays alive. When he wasn’t handing the ball off or getting rid of it quickly, he found Cade Brewer on a scramble drill situation to keep the chains moving on a touchdown drive, fired a 22-yard bullet to Kelvontay Dixon on a dig route to convert a third-and-17 in the second quarter and made his best throw of the night on a back-shoulder ball to Xavier Worthy for a 17-yard touchdown to punctuate a crisp scoring drive in a one-minute situation heading into halftime.

    Thompson executed Sarkisian’s best-called game through the first three contests of the 2021 season at a high level.

    While Thompson delivered in a big way..., a bad throw by Card that probably should’ve been intercepted impacted the overall grade for the group.

    Grade: B+

    Running Back
    It’s hard to find cracks in the foundation the Longhorn running backs built in a game where Sarkisian said he challenged them throughout the week to “really strain to finish in the run game.” Nobody should chalk that comment up to a throwaway line considering the problems Texas has in the trenches, which is going to require the backs to account for unblocked defenders on their own in an effort to maximize every carry to keep the offense from getting behind the chains.

    The good thing in that regard is the Rice game showed Bijan Robinson, Roschon Johnson, Keilan Robinson and Jonathon Brooks don’t need things to be blocked perfectly for them to work over opposing defenses. They made things happen by hitting the slightest of creases or making something out of nothing with their big gainers coming when everything on offense was clicking.

    Granted, the competition the rest of the way is going to be better than what the Longhorns saw on Saturday, but Bijan Robinson, Johnson and Keilan Robinson each had a run of 60 yards or more with Texas gaining 321 yards on 10 runs that were explosive in nature (12 yards or more).

    Grade: A+

    Wide Receiver
    Sarkisian said ahead of the game that the staff needed to find ways to get the ball into Worthy’s hands more often than the three times he touched it through the first two games. Worthy (seven receptions for 88 yards and a touchdown) had three touches on the first drive of the game alone, including a 31-yard reception on fourth-and-3 from the Rice 31.

    Washington and Dixon seem to be earning more playing time for different reasons: Washington for his effort as a blocker and Dixon because he continues to make the most of his opportunities when the ball comes his way. Sarkisian continues to mention those two specifically when he’s asked about players who are making strides and earning snaps, but Dixon specifically could be in line for additional playing time since he’s producing in a limited role.

    Grade: B

    Tight End
    [A] healthy Jared Wiley (three catches for 26 yards and a touchdown) made a huge difference for the group compared to the season’s first two games. According to Pro Football Focus, only Johnson’s game grade of 93.2 was better than the 82.9 grade for Wiley, which only begins to describe the impact he made.

    The Texas offense has shown it can be competent leaning on the outside zone as its top concept in the running game and the tight end is critical to the whole thing working. With Wiley’s PFF run-blocking grade of 78.4 trailing only the 80.5 posted by Junior Angilau, the Longhorns tallied 171 yards rushing when running behind a tight end.

    Wiley also had a 20-yard touchdown reception, which was a great call by Sarkisian as a bunch formation into the boundary with the Owls in man coverage got Wiley open without him or Thompson needing to sell the screen action on the play. Brewer’s 6-yard reception was the only other pass caught by a Longhorn tight end in the game.

    Even though Juan Davis, Gunnar Helm and Ja'Tavion Sanders didn’t get a ball thrown in their direction, they were getting hats and hands on Rice defenders in the running game when logging most of the unit’s workload in the second half.

    Grade: B+

    Offensive Line
    Considering how awful the line play was in the loss to Arkansas, Sarkisian and Kyle Flood had to feel good if for no other reason than that mistakes were kept to a minimum. Outside of [a few exceptions], Flood’s charges weren’t overwhelmed the likes of which they were in Fayetteville.

    If there’s something Sarkisian and Flood learned they can lean on, it’s running the ball behind the right side of the line. Angilau, Derek Kerstetter and Jake Majors can make the front side of wide zone runs work and the athleticism of Jones and Denzel Okafor allows them to be effective because they can either cut off penetration from the backside or climb to the second level and create a cutback lane for the runner. Of the 41 official rushing attempts Texas recorded, 25 were zone runs with more than 57 percent of the yardage gained coming on runs over the right side of the line.

    The best thing about the line’s night in addition to the minimal mistakes is how much the backups got to play.

    Specifically, Hayden Conner and Andrej Karic played with good effort and intent, even if the execution wasn’t always on point...

    Roughly 34 percent of the team’s rushing attempts went for two or fewer yards, which is a reminder that this offensive line is likely never going to reach the status of a dominant group in 2021. Nevertheless, the Rice game provided a glimmer of hope that Sarkisian and Flood are capable of identifying and carrying ways to help them be something other than a complete liability capable of derailing the offense.

    Grade: C+

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    LHABSOB 1,000+ Posts

    Did HPSLUGGA go to work for Horns247
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  3. mchammer

    mchammer 10,000+ Posts

    No, horns247 just mine old posts from hpslugga on horn fans.
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  4. BevoJoe

    BevoJoe 10,000+ Posts

    Overall, a solid performance. The O-line is still a concern, probably will be for the rest of the season.
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