Baylor waited 329 days to get revenge for their loss to 4-7 Texas in Waco. They waited 156 days to get revenge for Texas' masterful plot to oust Art Briles by... fabricating a rape scandal? Ensuring that the rape scandal didn't go unnoticed? I don't know; I still don't really get this one. And then Baylor had 27 days — interrupted by only one game against Kansas — to prepare for Texas.
Sucks to suck. Let's check the tape.
It's Zone Read, Not Magic
Our inability to defend zone read is bizarre, especially because it feels like it's getting worse. If you don't like watching #LesserAthletes hurdle former walk-ons, don't click on the image below.
Generally speaking, there are two ways Texas can play this: (1) Roach can stay square, shuffle inside and force the QB to hand off; or (2) Roach can crash inside and chase the back, forcing the QB to keep the ball himself, while Wheeler scrapes outside to tackle the QB. What can't happen is a mixture of the two. Texas has typically chosen Option #1, so we can say with some confidence that Roach screwed up.
As for Haines... When you break down seven yards from the ballcarrier, you're inviting crazy $#@! like this. I don't think this is the first time Haines has been hurdled but I'm not sure.
If you don't like watching #LesserAthletes shake former walk-ons in the open field, don't click on the image below.
Hughes is the end this time. You can even tell from the way he's shuffling that he intended to force the "give" but came down too far. Having the RB bend out and chip the DE if he doesn't get the ball is a nice wrinkle. Just lol at the rest and take comfort in the fact that Texas won.
For the Xth straight week, officiating was terrible. Leave the conspiracy theories to the Baylor fans (except when officials start bumping into coaches so they can penalize them for it). There were so many bad calls that hurt both teams, it's clear this crew was just incompetent (Seth Russell fumbled). This is almost as bad as offensive pass interference gets.
Notice how Texas handled the trips set to the boundary (this will come up again). Earlier in the series, Texas had put the nickel on the field/solo side and walked Wheeler out to help on the trips side. They were probably concerned about getting beat on the single-receiver side and wanted the nickel over there to help. Baylor changed Texas' mind real quick by hitting the #3 receiver up the seam behind Wheeler. So now the defense puts the nickel (Locke) in press against the #2 receiver, spins DeShon Elliott down and keeps the linebackers in the box.
That leaves the solo-side corner, Holton Hill, on an island. It looks like man coverage everywhere. Dog Beater runs a curl, and Hill is in OK position until he's shoved to the ground; people who are mostly standing still don't fly several feet when they slip. This should have been 1st & 25 at the +35, which very likely changes the outcome of this drive.
How to Handle Boundary Trips
So as you can see from the previous play, the Longhorns were right to be concerned about the solo side. I mentioned that they started by putting the nickel to the field side. That gave them opportunities like this:
If you watch #3 run the seam, you can see why the Bears came back to that on the first play of the ensuing series.
Boyd plays it perfectly and KD Cannon gave up on the play without hesitation. Locke made a tremendous play. He had a really good game. Boyd bit on a double-move late in the game like I thought he would at some point, but he's playing like the best corner on the team and it isn't close. If Hill can get his confidence back, I think he's the best option at the other corner. He's should get a lot of chances this week.
No Matter How You Spin It, This Was a Stupid Timeout
Even the Baylor sites are grateful to Charlie Strong for calling a timeout just before the half to give them time to set this play up. If you're determined to sub, you'd better have the subs ready to go before the previous play even starts. That didn't happen. And no, Texas was not going to have too many men on the field if they didn't call the timeout — the defensive tackle appeared to be off the field well before the whistle (unless Chris Nelson can't jog five yards in four seconds).
Baylor seemed content to take one hurried shot at the end zone and then kick a field goal. Instead, this happened.
Hill "opens the gate" and allows Cannon to run right past him. He has no effect on the timing of the play, and he doesn't use the sideline to his advantage. He's still not in horrible position, but he doesn't react quickly enough to Cannon's reaching for the ball. This was a pretty good throw, but Hill's lapses in technique made it way too easy.
Goal Line Sit
Texas had 11 players on the field here, and about five of them could have made this stop but didn't.
I don't know why both Hager and Omenihu are trying to come off the edge on the backside. Either of them coming through the B gap could have stopped this play in the backfield. Then, Roach's penetration at playside end disrupts both the H-back and the pulling guard, leaving three — THREE — second-level defenders unblocked. Nelson and Hall both get arms on the back, but neither can bring him down. Anyway, it was a great individual effort by Terence Williams. He wouldn't take "no" for an answer.
We'll get the INT out of the way first. That makes sense because there's an obvious relationship between most of the other plays.
Help Your Quarterback
It looks like Buechele wanted to go to Porter first on what's almost a screen look, but Baylor dropped eight into coverage and it wasn't there. He came back to the comeback route. It maybe wasn't the best decision to try to slip out the back of the pocket, especially when there was so much space in front of him. That's just begging your tackle to hold the pass rusher, which Nickelson was happy to do. Buechele can get away with forcing a throw since it's 4th down. The frustrating part, though, is that this ball wasn't really forced — it may have been a 1st down had Burt come back to it.
Finally, a Good Playcall
Sterlin did some really bizarre stuff, but this was a good one to narrow the deficit to two points.
Why haven't we seen something similar to this from the 18 Wheeler package? Maybe Sterlin doesn't know Swoopes had 490 pass attempts before he showed up.
Baylor was wholly unprepared for this play. They've got a 260-pound DE trying to cover Beck, but he doesn't seem to really believe his assignment exists. Armanti crack blocks one defender, but in reality he takes out two because the man covering him evidently can't recognize when a receiver is blocking. Beck did a great job finishing the play. He's caught three passes this year, two of them for touchdowns.
D'Onta Heisman Hype Train Rolls On
Both of D'Onta's touchdowns came on the same play: split zone. Note the pistol set. That probably would have benefited Chris Warren because the back gets going and then takes the handoff. It also prevents the defense from running some games to take away certain plays based on the back's alignment.
People will do it, but labeling Foreman a "big back," as though he is a plodder, is doing him a disservice. There's an unblocked safety with a great chance to bring him down when he bounces this play outside. He wouldn't have had a chance even if they were playing touch football. Collin Johnson puts in work as a blocker on the outside. Actually, it wasn't a difficult assignment at all. For the No. 8 team in a "rivalry" game, there were a lot of Baylor players giving up on plays.
Here's split zone (and touchdown) again. I guess this would be a good time to mention that the very stupid fourth-quarter handoff to Swoopes on 3rd & 5 was on this play, so at least that aspect made some sense.
Baylor's defensive line is slanting all over the place, which really muddles up the diagram. The offensive line deserves a lot of credit for executing its zone blocking assignments masterfully. Once he hits the hole, Foreman is so fast that no one has a chance, even with both safeties coming downhill.
The really important part to highlight, though, is what the threat of Foreman running does to the boundary safety. The offensive line was so physical, and Foreman was so good, that he had to be very involved against the run. That meant D'Onta's brother kept finding himself in one-on-one matchups with various corners.
To be continued (I hit the image limit)...