Texas got off to a bad start Saturday and it started on the defensive side of the ball. One of the things covered in last week’s TFB Game Week was that Texas needed to make this game a ‘war of attrition’. They failed at this early, yielding 30 penalty yards to a good TCU offense. What did that lead to? TCU decided to go for its first 4th down conversion of the game and what do you know? Something else I noted in last week’s post, TCU liked to run ‘trick plays’, especially throwback concepts. That’s exactly what you saw in TCU’s first drive.
Let me know if y0u mind the black and white images and the ‘artistic rendering’. You know me, I’m a crude operator. If you notice, Texas has 9 guys in the box against a 3 back ‘spread wing’ set. Note the jet motion to the field and the highlighted boundary defenders.
Once the ball reaches the field hash, you see the influence on backside pursuit. This defense is fast and if you get them all moving, it creates a vacuum to the opposite side of the play and fast. Another thing I pointed out in the preview is that a defender, whether a linebacker or defensive lineman needed to track the back. In this case, it’s the back that received the direct snap. At this point, no defender noticed.
Then, Poona Ford attempts to make a play on the throwback pass, to no avail. He was late in identifying the fake and left the Frogs with blockers down the sideline with no Texas defenders in front of them, amazing! Now, if there was a silver lining here, it was the fact that this play did not score and that’s crazy considering the image below. Kudos to the hustle of this Texas defense. Nevertheless, this immediately led to TCU’s first score, on the first drive, to start the nail in the coffin.
TCU’s second score was a beauty, a well-blocked Lead Outside Zone. In the image below, I want you to note the numbers to the field. This formation came about after the TCU H-back shifted from the boundary to the field and you saw no subsequent shift from the Texas front. This was likely good scouting on Cumbie’s part, as well as a great possible ‘line check’ from quarterback, Kenny Hill. Highlighted, you see the 3 Texas defenders left of center and 4 TCU blockers left of center, Texas is outnumbered to the field.
The key block here and you’ve seen this happen before, the Maryland game comes to mind. Taquon Graham is ‘reached’ by a very good TCU left guard. Not only is he reached, but it forced the Mike linebacker, Gary Johnson to have to work over the displacement created by the block. Now you see two blockers leading through a giant B-gap, wow!
Once Malcolm Roach sheds, he’s too far away and you also see Johnson blocked by a pulling guard. TCU’s backs are fast and if they get an angle, they’ll burn you. Texas was outnumbered due to the shift and weak in technique due to the freshman getting reached post-snap, growing pains. The remaining pursuit was either blocked (well) or too late to catch the runner.
The last touchdown was the cherry on top for the Frogs. By this time, it appeared the Texas defense was worn down. In the image below, you see the defensive line slanting away from the back, something they often do to great effect. They also have an blitz called, check the boundary. That leaves Malik Jefferson on an island of sorts.
What I don’t like here are two things. One, if you’re blitzing the back and quarterback, the back must be hit. Second, you can’t know if Roach and Malik had a stunt called or if Malik took the wrong gap. Either way, you end up with two Texas defenders in the same gap and the TCU left guard reaching Malik and screening him to the boundary.
There was a clear path for the back on this 4th & 1 call. To add insult to injury, TCU’s #6 back (Anderson) completely shakes safety Brandon Jones, making him fall on his rear, ouch! Anderson is quick and shifty and this is something you simply cannot allow a player like him. I hope they don’t play this back too many times for Brandon. It was bad, but it happens when you have players like #6 on the field.
These examples are shades of how the season started. The defense plays stellar for the great majority of downs, then gets gashed due to alignment or missed assignments. These are but 3 examples, but Texas also has to work on matching tempo with the better Big 12 spread teams. Surely, you can expect Kansas, West Virginia, and Texas Tech to utilized tempo to catch this defense misaligned. Orlando will need to clean up the way his defense aligns against uptempo procedures. I think it’s a result of him constantly wanting the right match-ups or alignments for certain offensive sets. I imagine it’s a bit mentally exhausting preparing for all the looks the offense presents,then adding to it the looks the defense is expected to align in as a response. As a Gary Patterson fan, it makes me scratch my head at times. Dude doesn’t mess with alignments much and kills offenses week in and week out. I think Todd can learn a thing or two studying Gary’s defense some, just saying and that goes for all college football coaches. As always, let me know what you think in the comments.