Trench Warfare | Texas Vs. Iowa State


I always like a Thursday night game.  I remember when I was a kid, I would jump out of bed on gamedays.  I never have been one to eagerly approach the day, but last Thursday I was really looking forward to watching the Horns in action after they nearly pulled it off against USC a couple of weeks ago.  Some of the Oklahoma TFB guys had picked the Cyclones in this one, but I stood by the Horns.


I was hoping to see a lot more Chris Warren carries Thursday, and on this play that’s exactly what we got.  Iowa State had 6 guys in the box vs 5 OL plus the fullback.  This was an even matchup numbers wise, and a hat on a hat should equal a good play.  With Warren running the ball here you have more offensive players than you have defenders in the run game and actually have a plus one advantage.  If it’s QB run game here you have a plus two advantage if Warren were to turn into a lead blocker.



Alabama schemes to numbers better than anyone in college football.  They’re methodical how they’ll come to the line, put a guy in motion, and before you know it, they’re either plus one or two almost all the time.  While everyone raves about how physical they are, and they are, it’s highly intelligent to get your back into the secondary before they’ll meet an unblocked defender.  With guys like Scarborough and in the past Derrick Henry, going 240-250 on 210 pound safeties is a nice proposition.  With Warren coming through the A gap on this play, the only guys who could stop him where the safeties, and they’re a little over 10 yards off the line of scrimmage.  Warren showed his power on this play, and neither of them could react quickly enough to keep Texas from going up by 7 early.



Todd Orlando is really good at how he’ll give you different pre snap looks to think he’s bringing or not bringing pressure.  Look at how tight inside the three man line is on this look.  Also note the distance between the D-Ends and the outside linebackers on this play.



Just before the ball got snapped, the linebackers squeeze down and make it appear that everyone’s coming but Naashon Hughes at the bottom & Malik Jefferson who’s spying the QB.  Reading body language & anticipating where people are coming from is a thing that offensive linemen are taught to do.  When defenses wait until the last minute to tip their hands, it can be very confusing.  Most QB’s at any level, much less the college level don’t do well when pressure is in their face.



The pressure got to the Fighting Bugles’ QB Park here and has DeShon Elliot been in position to make a play more than anyone in college football?  While the offense has struggled, the defense for Texas has been a bright spot.



Think 1800’s and how the ladies used the hand fans way back then.  If you’ve ever seen a movie where they’re at a theater and whip one out, it expands very quickly.  With that in mind, this should have been a “Fan” call by Tristan Nickelson at the bottom.  With 5 rushers, and the pressure coming up hard outside, he has to get out there right now.  He has to see it and call it out to Vahe, so he can come out one guy, and then Shackleford can do the same.



But not only did Nickelson miss the block at the bottom here, but it appears he missed the call too.  Vahe doesn’t come out, because he and Shackelford are inside, with the center doubling up on the backside A Gap.



By the time this thing unfolds, Vahe realizes it should have been a “Fan” call, but it’s too late as his guy is bearing down on Buechele.  Nevertheless, Shane is already getting earholed by Nickelson’s guy.  This is a basic 5 man pressure, that you have to be looking for, especially out of the open set.  What should have been an easy call and protection adjustment ended up getting the Horn QB hit pretty good.



But Shane stood tall in there and delivered a really, really nice pass to Toneil Carter down the seam.  It was a heck of a throw and ended up being the difference in the game.  While I can understand getting beat athletically, it’s inexcusable that Nickelson, a Senior allowed his QB to get hit like that.  You have to do your homework and anticipate better than that.



This play ended up being a pick for Iowa state.  With a 4 man rush, two guys got through, and the spy in the middle of the field is coming hard at the Horn QB.  Buechele’s looking down the middle of the field, but he’s gotta see Kyle Porter out on the right side.  You’re taught never to throw it back over the middle of the field, and you have to know where your release valve is as a QB.  Porter’s probably in Minneapolis by now if Shane sees him.  He’s all alone outside the hash.



The safety is back there licking his chops as Shane let fly, and as I watched this I couldn’t help but think that while Buechele has to be better here, so does his O line.  With a 4 man pressure, he shouldn’t have to be under so much duress.



This is one of the few times that Orlando didn’t bring heat, but Charles Omenihu almost got home off the three man rush.  What’s beautiful about this is that Park is probably thinking he’ll have more time to look at the routes, but with big Chuck coming around the corner, it rushed him a little bit.  DeShon’s just back there chillin, waiting for him to do something stupid…and he did.  He overthrew a 6’5″ receiver and Elliot had pick #2 on the night.



Going back to what I said about Body language earlier, it appears that you have a 3 man rush with the linebacker coming as well at the bottom.  Park again probably thinks he’ll be able to sneak the back out of the backfield right to the stripe, but…



The genius of Todd Orlando’s defense is such that while it looked like the linebacker was coming, he pumped his brakes right at the line of scrimmage.  Now the safety valve he thought he had is locked down. This puts the QB in a tough spot, because the clock in your head is already sped up, because you saw blitz.  Now there’s not a blitz, but even still the three man pressure is starting to push you a little to your right.  This is another nuance that puts Orlando’s players in good position.  The whole DL is caving the OL to their left, or the offense’s right.  This makes Park feel like he can escape to his left, but Malik Jefferson is waiting for him to do just that.



By the time that the Fighting Tornado Chicken’s QB cleared the pocket, Jefferson was all over em.  This was a big stop in a big spot on 4th down.  Had Iowa State been able to convert this, they were starting to get some momentum, and this may have helped them get downfield and make it a different game.



The coaches are going to have to keep a back or a tight end to help Nickelson out if he’s going to stay at Left Tackle.  As he gets deeper into conference play, he’s going to see better rushers than what ISU has.  He just doesn’t have the feet to be a left tackle.  He’s flat footed here, and he doesn’t time his punch well either.  He has to take better angles and be more powerful with his hands.



Vahe has to stay down inside as that’s what guards do, but again, the coaches need to keep a back in there to chip or a tight end if they want to keep Buechele healthy.


This was a really good win by Texas.  On the road, Thursday night against a good Iowa State team who took Iowa down to the wire…who took Penn State down to the very last play.  The defense is really really good, and in my mind, you’d better get Texas now before they can get the scheme ingrained to the players.  Once they get some guys healthy, and upgrade the offensive line, the defense is going to make it very hard on everybody.  I’m really looking forward to watching them match up against K State this coming weekend.  The Horns really need that win, and I think the run game of the Wildcats vs. the Longhorn defense is a heck of an intriguing matchup.