The Texas offense had a bad day in Ames, Thursday night. Many are using the term ‘identity’, stating the lack thereof is the Longhorns offense’s problem. Sure, you could say that, but all it means is the Texas offense isn’t particularly good at any one thing. It’s ‘identity’ lies mostly in the inconsistent play up front, the ‘Big Uglies’. That being said, Herman-Beck, ‘Heck’, are looking for solutions. That was evident in the first drive. Of course, the stupid drive-extending ISU penalty did more to help the Texas offense along early than anything else. You don’t always get to hand-pick your opportunities, you simply need to make most of them count.
If you remember, from ‘Focal Points’, I mentioned utilizing the tight end more ‘off-line’. Meaning, don’t place the tight end beside a tackle on the offensive line as often. The blocks needed at that alignment may be too much to handle for the current tight end personnel. Another point you read, I wanted Beck to add a receiver (Foreman) to the backfield more often. Not only did he do this, but he one-upped my suggestion. He began adding Lil’Jordan Humphrey, a growing favorite of mine. Those two ideas were on full display on the first drive and throughout the game. Let’s take a look.
Early, you saw a new formation, ‘Broken Diamond’. It’s a Pistol formation with the back aligned directly behind the quarterback who’s in shotgun formation. The other ‘back’, in this case Humphrey, aligns next to the quarterback. Note too, if this means we’ll eventually see Diamond formation, I’m all for it, this is a good development. More on that later. Below, you see 7 vs 6 in the box, leading Texas to block ‘hat on hat’.
When you take blockers off-line, you can ‘insert’ them in different ways to attack the front. Below is what becomes a simple Lead Inside Zone run-pass option (RPO). Shane’s eyes are on the outside coverage, though I doubt a read was on. Texas has the numbers inside here.
You see Humphrey insert outside against the ‘gap-exchanging’ Will linebacker, not a bad block. The problem, every Texas fan’s favorite left tackle, Tristan Nickelson allows his man, the end inside and Warren ends the run stopped for a minimal gain. For this concept to work, both the base and double-team blocks must ‘stick’. As you see on the right side, the line does a pretty good job against the front.
Texas does a good job extending the drive, including picking up a big first down via the pass. Then, they find themselves in the scoring zone and this time utilize Broken Diamond again, with a twist. Now, they include freshman tight end, Cade Brewer. Again, note the box, including the back, it’s 7 vs 6, very favorable.
Beck calls another Lead Inside Zone, Brewer inserts in the A-gap, the gap immediately to the right of the center. The center is working with the left guard on a double-team and Brewer is leading up to the Mike (middle linebacker), Joel Lanning. Did you know he used to play quarterback (lol)!?
You can see where the blocks end up, little movement off the offensive line and if you squint enough, you also see Brewer miss his block right, creating more penetration. Warren makes the best of it with a 4 yard gain. What does ‘Heck’ do?
‘Heck’ runs it back, it’s the remix! In hurry-up fashion, the players align in the exact same formation and so does the defense. Only, this time, a tiny little wrinkle is thrown ISU’s way.
Brewer appears to be reading the end’s post-snap movement and the end tries to fit inside the right tackle, the B-gap. Brewer correctly leads outside this block, working up to the Mike. Important, this doesn’t change the back’s read, he’s still looking to attack the inside A-gaps or the cutback, if open.
There is a lot of traffic at the line of scrimmage. Note the right guard, #64, went from his right guard spot on the line, all the way to the left and backward and now being pushed aside, ouch! Nevertheless, Warren path is right and the right tackle and tight end’s blocks are winning blocks. Warren settles his feet to redirect vertical and runs through the split safeties for Texas’ first touchdown.
You see ‘Heck’ problem-solving and showing it early. No matter how you feel about the overall performance, you have to note that the staff is tinkering to find a way. As a Brainiacs reader, you feel positive about the new wrinkles, why? The staff is making an honest attempt to help the players succeed on offense, at least in the run game. To reiterate, a couple of my suggestions were to take the tight ends off-line, let them lead and insert along the front. This also helps create ‘split-flow’ in the backfield should they run Split Zone or Counter. Also, I wanted them to utilize a receiver as a runner in the backfield, to allow for split-flow and threaten both the inside and outside gaps along the front. They did this as well with both Humphrey and Foreman, they one-upped me. On the last drive, you saw them include a lead blocker to ice the game. This worked! Going forward I will say this. I like Humphrey more than Foreman in the backfield. Not included here are Foreman’s carries. I think he tries to do too much because he’s uber-athletic, there is a time and a place. Also, Humphrey was a running back for much of his high school career. The staff can likely build more with Humphrey out of the backfield as a runner and pass catcher. Surely you remember the quick slant against the blitz, Humphrey runs very well after the catch. In a nutshell, more Broken Diamond and Diamond and I’m recommending a ‘Focal Points’ change. I’m upgrading Humphrey’s role over Foreman’s for now. Now, it’s up to the staff to begin showcasing an amazingly versatile player. Lastly, the offensive line was hit or miss, making it incredibly difficult for all of the backs. I still think Warren is the better option on standard downs, but Porter and Carter are quick on his heels. Tell me what you think in the comments.