Posted: 8:01 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013
By Michael H. Pelech
The first half of action plus some started pretty much how I figured it would. It was a prime spot for the offense to come out slow and the defense to show continued strength against a formidable rush attack while feasting on poor QB play. And for a little more than two quarters, that's how the game went. The Texas offense ranged from terrible to bad, failing to capitalize on numerous gift-wrapped scoring opportunities provided by a keyed-in Texas defense. But around the same time the offense found its footing, a clever West Virginia offense started to pick at old scabs and find weaknesses in the Texas pass defense, turning a sloppy first half into a thrilling shootout that would head to Mack Brown's first career overtime game. To the numbers....
10-23 (43.5), 92 (4), 0-1: Case McCoy completions-attempts (comp%), pass yards (yards per attempt), TDs-INTs
20 - 66 (3.3) - 1: Texas rush attempts - rushing yards (yards per carry)- rushing TDs
1 - 11: Texas 3rd down conversions
1 - 4: Texas red zone TDs - red zone opportunities
7, 27, -1, -4: Texas total yards on scoring drives (FG, TD, FG, FG)
Dreadful. There are really no other words for the performance of the Texas offense leading up to the point of falling behind 26-16 with 7:26 remaining in the third quarter. The run game was smothered by sheer volume of West Virginia defenders, and Case McCoy did little to punish the strategy. Take your pick of what is a larger indictment of poor play overall: less than 50% completion, 4 yards per pass attempt, 0 TDs to 1 INT, nearly 3 yards per rush attempt, 1 conversion on 11 3rd down attempts, 1 TD in 4 red zone possessions, or only turning 4 turnovers into 29 yards of offense and 16 points. The only thing the Texas defense could have done to make it easier to score would be to go full-Whaley and score themselves. The defense would hand the ball to the offense in 4 turnovers up to that point at the West Virginia 26 yardline, 27 yardline, 7 yardline, and 7 yardline.
I won't pile on where I think the bulk of responsibility lies in the performance, but I don't know what else Major Applewhite could have called to dial up production. At that point of the game, I thought it was over.
17-26 (65.4), 191 (7.35), 3-0: Case McCoy completions-attempts (comp%), pass yards (yards per attempt), TDs-INTs
21 - 101 (4.8) - 1: Texas rush attempts - rushing yards (yards per carry)- rushing TDs
9 - 12: Texas 3rd down conversions
3 - 4: Texas red zone TDs - red zone opportunities
75, 67, 66, 57, 25: Texas total yards on scoring drives (TD, TD, TD, FG, TD)
If I'm gonna stick blame for Texas's struggles early somewhere, I'll give credit when it gets turned around. Case McCoy....hell of a turnaround. Not sure if someone was just hiding the moxie sauce or what, but the QB play went from dreadful to start to a good-to-great performance after that. McCoy shook off the rough start to come back with a 65.4% completion percentage, 7.35 yards per attempt, 3 TDs to 0 INTs, 75% on 3rd down and 75% TDs in the red zone. The offense was able to finally string together long scoring drives by converting on 3rd downs and capitalizing in the red zone.
44.08 (42) vs. 48.60 (14): Texas 2013 vs. 2012 3rd down conversion rate (national rank)
54.84 (99) vs. 69.84 (21): Texas 2013 vs. 2012 red zone TD rate (national rank)
Two pretty disturbing trends for the Texas offense have emerged in 2013. After being among the best nationally at converting 3rd downs and turning red zone opportunities into TDs in 2012, Texas has dropped to middle of the road on 3rd down and is among the worst nationally at scoring TDs in the red zone. The fact that Texas continues to win games despite this drop in production is testament to just how far the defense has improved after last season's struggles. Speaking of the defense...
8 - 3 (12) - 2 (11) - 1: Desmond Jackson tackles - TFL (lost yards) - sacks (lost yards) - forced fumbles
7 - 2 (7) - 1 - 2:Cedric Reed tackles - sacks (yards lost) - forced fumbles - fumble recoveries
7 - 2 (13) - 1 (4) - 1 -1:Jackson Jeffcoat tackles - TFL (lost yards) - sacks (lost yards) - forced fumbles - fumble recoveries
I'm not hip enough to know what it's called, but when the team calls out their respective units (eg. DB - Money Makers), the defensive line calls themselves the QB Killas....and against West Virginia, they lived up to the name. The DL feasted on QBs Clint Trickett and Paul Millard, with the troika of Jackson-Reed-Jeffcoat forcing and recovering 3 fumbles, leading the charge to 5 total West Virginia turnovers on the night. Cedric Reed's strip-sack/forced fumble/fumble recovery was one of the meanest displays of man-strength I've seen of a defender in some time. The DEs march along with their domination, but credit Tank Jackson for stepping up for the injured Chris Whaley and being unblockable on the night.
Chris Whaley, it's been a pleasure watching your growth as a Horn, and I'll be rooting for you during your recovery and on draft day. Heal up, and hook 'em.
10 - -44 (-4.4): West Virginia QB rush attempts - yards lost (yards lost per attempt)
37 - 153 (4.14): West Virginia non-QB rush attempts - net yards (yards per attempt)
The Texas run defense was tested against future NFL back Charles Sims, but the Houston transfer was held to less than 4 yards a carry. Even taking out the sizable negative run plays forced by the Texas defense, the Mountaineers only mustered 4.14 yards per carry. All hail the GERG.
4 - 4, 15 - 16:Anthony Fera field goals made - attempted against West Virginia, on the season
Anthony Fera, in addition to his solid work as a punter, is putting his name on the long list of great Texas kickers. He's 15 of 16 on the year in FGs, including 4 of 5 from 40+ yards out with a long of 50.
159 - 780 (4.9) - 4: Johnathan Gray rush attempts - rushing yards (yards per attempt) - TDs in 2013
Absent an insane finish to 2013 by Malcolm Brown, the Texas offense will continue it's streak of seasons without a 1,000 yard rusher since 2007. Johnathan Gray's torn Achilles will require surgery, and his loss is a big one. The sophomore RB's 841 all purpose yards leads the team, and he was the feature back. I hate seeing a guy put in the work he does to see a season end that way, but you can't help but feel good about his ability to bounce back. He has a long road ahead, with an 8-12 month recovery up next. We'll be rooting for you, Johnathan.
7 - 82 (11.7) - 1:Jaxon Shipley receptions - receiving yards (yards per catch) - TDs
3 - 91 (30.3) - 1: Mike Davis receptions - receiving yards (yards per catch) - TDs
With the pass game struggling, Case McCoy leaned heavily on veterans Jaxon Shipley and Mike Davis for production against the Mountaineers. The usual suspects brought their usual games to Morgantown: Shipley showcasing his excellent routes and solid hands, and Davis his customary ability to slip open deep and mixing in a tough grab getting blown up down the sideline for a third down grab in the second half. Of Shipley's 7 grabs, 5 were on 3rd or 4th down, all converted for a 1st down or TD. Jaxon is now in sole possession of the 3rd longest streak of games with a reception now at 32, passing older brother Jordan.