Monday, September 3, 2007

Texas by the Numbers

With Texas' 21-13 win on Saturday over Arkansas State, let's take a look back at the numbers from Saturday's less than spectacular win.

Texas' offense
Colt McCoy completed 67% of his passes, going 22 of 33 for 223 yards. He averaged 10 yards per completion, throwing for two touchdowns and two interceptions, and was sacked once. Against an inferior defense you would like McCoy's completion percentage to be higher, in the 75 to 80% range, but 67% is solid. The more concerning statistic would be the two interceptions. Colt showed poor decision making and didn't take care of the football. While this is alarming, Colt is still only a sophomore. He's relatively young, and still prone to mistakes. With a young line and a new defense, most have been expecting Colt to build on his success from last season. He right now is trying to do a little too much instead of letting the game come to him, and taking what the defense gives him. Last season as a freshman, his role was to not mess up. This season he might be trying to do a little too much to win the game. He didn't have a completion to his running backs the entire ballgame which shows an unwillingness to check down and take what the defense gives him. The only concern with these numbers is whether Colt is going to progress and build from last season. Many have questioned where is ceiling is as a quarterback, and you hope that he can continue to build on this and progress. As is the case with Texas' offense, they ran a lot of short receiver screens and plays like that to try and get Colt settled in, and you would've liked to see him do a bit better against an inferior defense.

Running Backs
Jamaal Charles had 112 yards on 27 carries, averaging 4.1 yards per carry. With an inexperienced offensive line many thought this would be the case. While he did run for 100 yards, Arkansas State is the type of opponent that Texas usually puts 200 yards on. Charles inability to average 6 or more yards a carry shows the weakness in the line. However, Charles' long for the night was 15 yards, and you would like to see him have some longer plays. Charles is capable of making the big play, and you would like to see him expose an inferior defense. He is going to have it difficult all season long, and could be seeing large carry numbers like he did Saturday. His durability may come into play, but Charles wanted to be the main guy and have the chance to be the feature back. He needs to step up and accept the challenge.

Wide Receivers
The recievers played well led by Nate Jones (9 catches/72 yards) and Limas Sweed (5 catches/93 yards/1 TD). Quan Cosby had a solid day (5 catches/29 yards). The Texas recievers are extremely deep and Jones stepped up with Pittman and Shipley out hurt. You would like to see Cosby get down the field a bit more, but each of these recievers are going to get a chance to prove themselves early this season with the injury to Shipley and Pittman's suspension. You know what you're going to get out of Sweed, but you'd like to see Jones to continue to produce and Cosby to step up as well. The biggest disappointment is out of tight end Jermichal Finley (1 catch/8 yards). He needs to continue to improve and make himself a target in 3rd down and red zone situations.

Offensive Line
The offensive line is young, inexperienced, and will take time to gel. It was not an impressive performance by any means, but it wasn't terrible. They didn't get penalized a ton on the line and they only gave up one sack. However, they will need to become more dominant as they need to give Colt more time to throw, and need to do a much better job in the running game.

Texas' defense
Defensive Line
The performance from the defensive line was pretty disappointing. Giving up 125 yards on the ground to Arkansas State was a let down from a unit that is needed to carry the defense this season. They weren't able to dominate the line and weren't able to put pressure on the quarterback. Frank Okam had a good game with 5 tackles, 3 for a loss, 1.5 sacks and a quarterback hurry. He should be one of the top performers on this defensive line. Aaron Lewis also had a good debut, but Texas is going to need more from Derek Lokey and Brian Orakpo if they are to be successful this season. Texas' defensive line can't have an off night like they did on Saturday. They need to be near the top of the list when it comes to run defense this season, if Texas is going to have a chance. A good debut by redshirt freshman DE Eddie Jones.

Texas does not have large amounts of talent in the linebacking corps. This will probably lead to Sergio Kindle getting on the field sooner than later, that is when he gets back. Until then, Texas will need to out work their opponents. That didn't happen with Arkansas State. No linebacker was in the top 4 on the defense in tackles, meaning when Arkansas State got past the defensive line, they were also getting by the linebacking corps. Rashad Bobino had an okay day with 5 tackles, 2 for a loss, and 2 quarterback hurries. But, the linebacking corps is going to be a weakness all season long. Look for Scott Derry to get replaced, with Killebrew and even Bobino not having a secure job.

This was pretty much a disaster. Arkansas State threw for 272 yards. They were able to get open and take what they wanted. Much of the work was done against Ryan Palmer and Brandon Foster. It appears in the last two seasons, they have not progressed or improved. That is worrisome, just beyond the players, but into the coaching staff. This secondary had three starters from a terrible unit a year ago get drafted. The athletes are there, the execution is not. The entire secondary gave cushions all game long and Arkansas State looked very good. Look for everyone to get a chance to show something, from Deon Beasley, to Chris and Chykie Brown. The only bright spot for the secondary is Marcus Griffin who had a team high 10 tackles. He will most likely lead a weak defense in tackles this season. Texas will spend most of the season searching for answers in the secondary, and could have a difficult time coming away with wins over Nebraska, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State.

Coaching Staff
Let's hope that we were looking ahead to TCU and were working on what we need to do to beat the Horned Frogs. This was a lackluster performance, and the team looks like it might be lacking leadership on the field and on the sidelines. Mack will get their attention this week and they should have a much better performance and effort this weekend. The only question marks facing week one is how much of this is a poor performance and how much is a flawed football team. Question marks will also resurface this season asking if this is offense is suited to Colt McCoy's strengths.

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