Image via TheGazette.com
Texas opens Big 12 play with a 1-0 record after beating Iowa State 17-7 in Aimes last night. There were some really good things, and some really bad things I saw during this game. But the bottom line is that Texas got a win in a place that is not an easy place to win for anyone. So here are some of my main post game thoughts from Texas’ win.
– This Texas defense might have finally turned a corner. If you take out the Maryland game, this defense has played really well at all three levels in 2017. And the Iowa State game is likely the best game that defensive backfield has played in a very long time. Holton Hill has been the best guy all year and was good again, he’s a sure tacklier. But Kris Boyd also had a really good game as well, and if you get him and Hill playing with a lot of confidence that could be very good news for Texas. Coming into the season I said PJ Locke could be the surprise guy who takes a huge JR season and heads to the NFL a year early. After 4 games, it looks like that guy might be DeShon Elliott. NFL teams will love the big, hard hitting safety with a nose for the ball.
– What’s the plan on offense? Tom Herman said in his post game press conference that they’re still looking for their offensive identity. Everyone knows they like the experience that comes with Shane Buechele and he’s a more accurate passer than true freshman Sam Ehlinger. But it all comes down to building an offense around your QB’s strengths. And if Tom Herman and Tim Beck are going to keep building this offense around the zone read and QB run game, they need to go with Sam Ehlinger. That’s just my opinion, but if Texas keeps this game plan with Shane Buechele I see two things happening. 1. Texas won’t score many points and 2. Shane Buechele won’t make it though the season healthy. Buechele took a lot of hard hits last night. And do any changes come in terms of offensive play calling? Lincoln Riley calls the offense at OU. Gary Patterson calls the defense at TCU. Is Tom Herman next?
– Texas has an issue at offensive tackle on their hands. Tristen Nickelson was at left tackle and true freshman Derek Kerstetter had his first career start at right tackle vs Iowa State. In the first half both Nickelson and Kerstetter both seemed to play well and not give up many big mistakes. It was a completely different story in the second half. Kerstetter had a lot of trouble vs the speed rush and had a few holding penalties as well, Nickelson was the same. Nobody knows if something is up with Denzel Okafor (who took over at RT vs USC when C. Williams went down) or if the staff just feels better about Kerstetter. But there are some real improvements to be made before Texas takes on K-State/OU/OSU.
– Malik Jefferson had his best performance at Texas vs USC last week. He responded with another really good game vs Iowa State. He took some bad angles vs QB Jacob Park early on and was washed inside on an outside run, but after that he was really good. He did a great job of getting off of blocks on the edge and forcing the ball out of Park’s hands earlier than he wanted. He also had a sack or two and was in the backfield and around the ball a lot on Thursday night.
– Texas finally got to use their pass rush duo of Breckyn Hager and Jeffrey McCulloch multiple times last night. McCulloch got to Park on a key 4th down in the second half. And Hager had a 4th down sack and a QB pressure that turned into a Kris Boyd INT. Tom Herman has talked a lot about those two guys and their prescience was finally truly felt vs Iowa State.
– How about K Josh Rowland? Nailing a 49-yard FG to make it a two-score game in the second half. Tom Herman has said on multiple occasions that Rowland was great in the Spring and Fall camp, but we hadn’t seen it in the game just yet. That was a huge play in that game, and likely a huge confidence booster for him moving forward as well.
– Offensive Weapon Michael Dickson? Outside of his 26-yard punt that led to an ISU TD, punter Michael Dickson was fantastic. He totaled 328 punt yards, and the Texas offense only gain 312 total yards. He flipped the field multiple times for Texas.
– Ending on a positive note. While the Texas offense had a rough day as a whole, they ended the game in a good way. They ran out the last 7:35 off the clock by running the ball 13 straight times with Chris Warren, Kyle Porter, and Toneil Carter. And speaking of Carter, I bet we start to see his carries go up as the season rolls on.