Setting The Stage
The Texas Herman-Beck offense is in free-fall. It’s amazing just how bad the offense is, considering the talent. Of course, everyone will tell you, it all starts up front. That is true, for the most part. If you’re not blocking well, what can you do well? That goes for both the run and pass game. Far too often you see both penetration, players getting beat, and free-runners in the back field. It’s a sieve. What did you think, that Tom Herman is some kind of mastermind or something? Who are you, Dave Campbell? I digress. I wanted to peruse the numbers, mainly at footballoutsiders.com, to see how this continually terrible performance matche-up with 2014’s Shawn Watson offense. You remember that one, right? Let’s start there.
If you don’t recall, EVERYONE hated the Shawn Watson hire. Never mind the fact that he knew quarterbacks well. After all, he did recruit both Shane and Sam. What was Shawn’s problem? Well, do you remember Dom Espinosa getting injured the first game of the season? Also, quarterback, David Ash’s career ending after the same game? That left Watson with an offensive line containing, I believe, two ex-defensive linemen! Does that sound familiar? That year was a dumpster-fire on offense and it was a shame. The defense that season was the best Texas’ has seen since the losing national championship team. Add to that, sophomore quarterback, Tyrone Swoopes bore the brunt of that terrible unit ALL-SEASON LONG. Of course, Ty himself was also part of the problem. Watson was dead on arrival, especially given the attrition that occurred during Strong’s culture-change efforts.
Now you have a new staff, new system, and new players, but the same old story. Attrition and injuries plagued the 2017 offense from the jump. Starting right tackle, Brandon Hodges left the program. Then the unit loses new starting right tackle, Elijah Rodriguez, then, starting tight end, Andrew Beck. That’s not all! Texas lost new starting tight end, Garrett Gray after game 1 and starting quarterback, Shane Buechele too! The unthinkable happened after that. The team’s best player, starting left tackle, Connor Williams was injured early in the USC game (screams into the void)! Is Texas cursed? Seriously, when was the last time Texas has had a good offense? Oh yeah, it was last year. They at least ranked in the top-40 in S&P+, ran like hell with D’Onta Foreman, and scored points. This year, not so much, but when you look at the injuries, how?
2014 Offense (End of Year)
Metrics per footballoutsiders.com
Overall S&P+ #90
Success Rate #65
Rushing S&P+ #52
Passing S&P+ #99
Standar Downs S&P+ #66
Passing Downs S&P+ #108
2017 Offense (Through 7 Games)
Overall S&P+ #72
Success Rate #62
Rushing S&P+ #84
Passing S&P+ #70
Standard Downs S&P+ #80
Passing Downs S&P+ #65
What differences did you note? Mainly, the two offenses differ on Passing Downs, where the 2017 offense is more highly ranked. Of course, that is attributable to the fact that both Shane Buechele and Sam Ehlinger are better passers than Tyrone Swoopes. Also, Rushing and Standard Downs differ. Safe to say the 2014 offense was better running the football than this season’s offense. What’s the point? Well, there are shared circumstances between both years’ units. Neither was able to overcome their respective roster’s shortcomings. That is usually enough to get a coach or coaches fired. It happened with Watson, as he was demoted after the first game in 2015, then summarily fired after Strong brought in Sterlin Gilbert in 2016. By that time, Texas had a good offensive line, good backs, and a decent quarterback. Now, Texas is back in a similar situation as 2014.
Lastly, how do the quarterbacks compare? After all, both have contributed this season, Shane, 2 games and Sam, 5. Per foxsports.com, the quarterbacks have put together the following, Swoopes’ 2014 season along with Shane and Sam’s 2017.
Tyrone Swoopes – 224/384, 58.3%, 2,409 Yards Passing, 13 TD, 11 INT, QBR 116.5, 108/262 Yards Rushing (4 TD)
Shane Buechele – 55/80, 68.8%, 557 Yards Passing, 3 TD, 2 INT, QBR 134. 6, 31/66 Yards Rushing (1 TD)
Sam Ehlinger – 105/192, 55.7%, 1419 Yards Passing, 6 TD, 4 INT, QBR 124.0, 84/261 Yards Rushing (2 TD)
Now, how exactly do you interpret these statistics? You also have to consider what you see on ‘tape’ as well. Compare Ty’s stats to Shane and Sam’s. It’s no wonder why Shane replaced Ty last season. What do you think? Sticking to 2017, some may find it difficult to imagine Shane having to make all the bad plays right. On the other hand, Shane often makes the correct reads and gets the ball out quicker with more accuracy. The completion percentages between quarterbacks speak for themselves. Personally, the threshold I like for any quarterback is at least 60%. Given the amount of screens Texas throws, that should be attainable and yet, Sam remains below. In the run game, you feel more comfortable with Sam carrying the ball. Except now, he suffered a concussion against Oklahoma State, a defense that managed to completely confound the Texas offense. One thing is certain, Herman and Beck are in a tough spot. If Shane’s healthy again, finally, you can be sure they’re okay resting Sam. What I wonder is, will you see the staff utilize both in any game? We shall see. Tell me what you think in the comments!