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Inside the Numbers: Texas vs. North Texas
If defensive numbers are your thing, then Inside the Numbers will have a treat for you this season. If you're more into the video game offensive statistics of your Oregons and Baylors of the world...then I'll try my best to be witty and entertaining in the meantime.
60 - 94 (1.6) - 0: North Texas offensive plays - total yards (yards per play) - offensive points
3 - 16: North Texas third down conversions - third down attempts
Y'all remember having a defense that smothered the life out of opponents? It's been a while, and I know I'm damn happy to see it again. The Texas defense shut down the North Texas offense on all fronts, and limited the Mean Green to only 3 of 16 third downs converted.
It wasn't until early in the fourth quarter, when Charlie Strong called in the second and third team defenders, that the Mean Green were able to convert a third down. The performance led North Texas to running only 60 plays in the game. Only two drives for North Texas (again, both in the fourth quarter) went for more than 5 plays.
And did I mention the defense pitched a shutout?
43 - 79 (1.8) - 0: North Texas rushing attempts - rushing yards (yards per rush) - rushing TDs
3 - 17, 15, 0 - 4: combined North Texas completions - pass attempts, passing yards, passing TDs - INTs
One of the biggest contests expected in the game was UNT's experienced offensive line against Texas's deep and talented defensive line. That battle turned out quite one-sided. The Texas defensive front limited the UNT run game to no plays longer than 8 yards, and inflicted 44 negative rushing yards.
UNT threw two QBs at the Texas secondary, and they both combined for 3 completions to Mean Green receivers and 4 completions to Texas receivers.
4 - 68 - 1: Texas defense interceptions - return yards - defensive TDs
4 - 38: Texas defensive sacks - sack yardage
Dylan Haines, Jordan Hicks, Adrian Colbert, and Demarco Cobbs: take a bow. The four defenders all recorded their first career interceptions at Texas Saturday night, including Demarco Cobbs returning his for a touchdown.
Each had a unique spin to their story: Haines, the walk-on turned scholarship DB rewarded all the offseason talk with a great snag; Hicks, returning from a second career ending injury, displayed excellent instincts jumping a route on the sideline; Colbert, seemingly lost in the shuffle behind a walk-on and true freshman in fall camp, ended up starting and performing admirably; and Cobbs, who redshirted due to injury in 2013 after a disappointing 2012, started to fulfill some of his promise with the pick six.
And while there weren't too many passing opportunities to take advantage of, the Texas pass rush found the QB four times, including two sacks by Hassan Ridgeway (more on him in a minute), one from Alex Norman, and a combined effort from Cobbs and Mykkele Thompson.
5 - 2 (18): Hassan Ridgeway solo tackles - sacks (sack yards lost)
While Cedric Reed led the way for the Texas defense with 6 total tackles, Ridgeway led the way with 5 solo tackles and two sacks, for 18 large yards lost. In his first significant action of his career, RIdgeway showed his tremendous potential and athleticism that has fans and the coaching staff eager to see that potential become production.
A reserve defender now, Ridgeway will steadily see his snaps increase as he shows what he's capable of.
40 - 163 (4.1) - 3: Texas offense rushing attempts - rushing yards (yards per carry) - rushing TDs
The retooled power rushing effort for Texas showed ho-hum results against an undersized and inexperienced UNT defensive front. Johnathan Gray (16 - 82), Malcolm Brown (13 - 65 - 2 TDs), and true freshman D'Onta Foreman (2 - 37) all posted solid efforts in addition to David Ash's 4th down TD rush.
And while the final results come across as fine, the numbers are really aided by a long run from each of the backs. Gray (42), Brown (26), and Foreman (34) produced 55% of their total net yards on their long runs.
7 - 110 - 1: John Harris receptions - receiving yards - receiving TDs
Once thought to be left behind on the WR depth chart, John Harris took to the new coaching staff and found new life, slimming down and being in the best shape of his career. The results were obvious against North Texas. Despite a few early drops, Harris became a reliable target, fighting off defensive backs and picking up tough yards for the Texas offense in need of production. Harris would account for more than half of Texas's receiving yards on the night.
Hopefully, the production continues to build, as the Texas offense now needs playmakers to step up...
19 - 34, 190, 1 - 0: David Ash completions - attempts, passing yards, passing TDs - INTs
On first review, Ash's roughly 50% completion percentage and 5.6 yards per attempt on the night were well below his averages and seemed to be a sign of potential difficulties ahead. That review took an entirely different tone on Monday as Charlie Strong announced Ash would miss next week against BYU with concussion symptons.
Recurrence of concussion symptons for Ash once again is a bad sign not just for the young man's prospects on the field, but for his future. For that, the concern at ITN is for David Ash's health, and the hope is that he takes a serious look at moving on with his life and hanging up the cleats.
For the Longhorns moving forward, it means the offense, and it's production, may look entirely different in the coming weeks. Tyrone Swoopes, looking forward to seeing what you produce.
How much of a leash will Tyrone Swoopes have for the Horns on Saturday?
Will the Tyrone Swoopes era quickly transition to the Jerrod Heard era?
If there's one truth about football fans, it's that they love the newest, shiniest thing.
After Texas Longhorns quarterback Tyrone Swoopes showed well on one series during the 2013 Orange-White game, he was the new, shiny thing, even though the recruiting cycle didn't end with overly favorable impressions of his immediate upside.
After Jerrod Heard drew buzz during the spring, he's become the newest, shiniest thing at the position, the position where fans and even media are most drawn to the new and shiny.
To the extent that that Austin-American Statesman columnist Cedric Golden said on Sunday that Heard would be his starter ($), even though Heard hasn't thrown a single pass for Texas and even the media hasn't seen him throw much in the multi-colored Horns practice uniforms.
To the extent that even respected Texas/national X's and O's analyst Ian Boyd is saying that he thinks Heard should and will get the call at some point.
Texas head coach Charlie Strong, for one, will be a little bit more patient, but the question of how long the leash will be for Swoopes is a legitimate one.
"Well, he may struggle early, but we have to have confidence," Strong said on Sunday. "You can't just all of a sudden go in and just pull him because of some bad plays but he's going to have enough around him."
Of course, as the last part of Strong's statement makes clear, the leash for Swoopes might be longer because the coaches may not ask that much of him against BYU.
"We don't have to put it [all] on his shoulder," said Strong. "Like I said, you have two good running backs back there and you can turn around and hand them the ball and let them run for a while.Then when you do ask them to do something, it's not like he's just going to walk in and just say the game plan is on his shoulder, now could go execute it.Yeah, he has to execute it, but as a coaching staff, too, we have to know what he can do, also and what he can do at his best."
As for what Swoopes can do best, Strong said that the coaching staff is still working on the tweaks to the offense that will be necessarily to feature the skills of the big, strong-armed sophomore.
"I don't know how much we are going to tweak it. Our offensive coaches are studying that right now and we were able to get a start on it yesterday. Tyrone can handle it. I'm not concerned about that and the team will rally around him and like I said, we'll be able to get to the problem and we'll get it fixed and move on."
Strong has made a point throughout his short tenure at Texas and especially during the fall that confidence is something that he's trying to instill in every player as he and the staff work to build up each and every player on the roster after breaking them down during the first four phases of the year.
So for a coach who has been considered remarkably candid throughout his roughly nine months on the job, this is probably an area where Strong isn't being entirely honest with the media, and for good reason.
But know this -- as ready as some are to move on from Swoopes before he's had a chance to prove his worth, Strong and his staff won't be as reactionary.