Texas Football: Grading the Longhorns vs. Iowa State
The Texas Longhorns impressed on the road for the second straight game, drilling Iowa State in Ames 37-14.
Similar to their demolition of UCLA two Saturdays ago, the Horns capitalized on three Cyclone turnovers in the first quarter, converting them into 13 points. Coupled with new wrinkles in the Texas offense, the Longhorns went into the half up 34-0.
With the annual showdown against Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry coming next weekend in Dallas, Texas has put together back-to-back blowouts on the road in convincing fashion.
With a comfortable lead heading into the fourth quarter, the Horns were able to exercise the lower half of its two-deep.
The report card is in, and the results are sparkling.
Here are the grades for the Longhorns on Saturday night.
The two-headed monster under center was inconsistent for most of the night, but that hardly retracted from what Case McCoy and David Ash were able to accomplish.
Decision making was not nearly as crisp as it was against UCLA, but in the plays that were successfully executed, the Horns benefited hugely.
A final line of 14-of-24, 255 yards and two touchdowns, split virtually even between the two signal callers, is acceptable, but not commendable.
While McCoy and Ash did appear to struggle at times, they never relinquished the ball to the Cyclones' defense, which played a role in maintaining Texas' big lead. Whether it was making poor or hurried throws or holding onto the ball too long, both finished the game with takeaways to learn from moving forward.
Against UCLA, it was McCoy making the better plays. Against the Cyclones, Ash looked the part.
Their performance was above average, but a repeat performance against the Sooners could put Texas in a stickier predicament.
For the fourth straight game, Malcolm Brown led all Texas backs in rushing yards, toting the rock 15 times for 63 yards. The true freshman opened the game with a 22-yard scamper down the sideline, but Iowa State's defense covered its corners well as the game wore on to keep Brown in check.
Fozzy Whittaker and D.J. Monroe combined for 12 carries, 72 yards and a touchdown from the backfield. Joe Bergeron picked up four carries late in the game, picking up 28 yards.
The Horns totaled 145 yards on the ground on 40 carries for a 3.6 average. Mack Brown praised his rushing game against UCLA, as his backs picked up yards however they wanted and whenever they wanted.
But against the Cyclones, the yards simply didn't come as easily, mostly due to missed blocks from the offensive line.
Nevertheless, the Texas backs were productive when called upon and provided good balance for an offense that scored just 18 points out of 37.
This is a tough group to grade this week because of the lack of completions to an array of receivers, which is becoming a weekly routine for this group.
Jaxon Shipley and Mike Davis combined to haul in nine catches for 213 yards and two touchdowns. Apart from that duo, the remaining wide receivers and tight ends were just kind of there with not much to show offensively.
Texas has been using the run to set up the pass, so naturally the Horns will run the ball more than they will throw. The Longhorns rushed the ball 40 times compared to just throwing the ball 24 times.
Shipley is looking more and more like a star every week, and Davis is slowly turning his inconsistency the other way.
All things considered, the receivers did a decent job of taking what's been given to them and making the most of it.
The offensive line played well enough to get the job done when it mattered, but never took to the next level to dominate Iowa State in a game that could have been a monumental blowout.
An injury to Dom Espinosa, the Horns' starting center, forced Texas to shift its line accordingly and put some positions on rotation. Nevertheless, the running game was generally successful, but there were some missed blocks that have to be a glaring issue to the coaching staff.
Fortunately, none of the plays that were blown up in the backfield led to any turnovers, but against a stronger, faster Sooners team, Texas may not be so lucky.
The defensive line for Texas has been a glaring issue the entire season for the lack of big plays.
That tradition continued as the line played well, but nobody stood out as one would hope.
Alex Okafor had several pressures, including a critical fumble recovery early on, and Jackson Jeffcoat's name was mentioned at the end of some plays, but nobody came away from this game beating their chest from a great performance.
Coaches can continue to sugar coat a lack of production on that stat sheet by saying quarterback pressures will get the job done, but against the likes of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, getting tangible results will go much further than mere pressures.
Emmanuel Acho played great as he continues to increase is stock consistently from week to week.
Keenan Robinson went invisible for much of the night, again raising concerns about his legitimacy as a true Mike linebacker. His drop in production immediately led to true freshman Steve Edmond's increase in field time, and he responded impressively. He will certainly be a fixture in the middle of Texas' defense for the next three or four years.
The Horns played a good amount of nickel packages, leaving just two linebackers on defense. But when only half of them are picking up big plays and providing consistency at a critical position, problems are bound to occur.
Those issues are minimal when facing marginal opponents like Iowa State and UCLA, but come next weekend's matchup with the Sooners, those shortcomings could be magnified.
Once again, the Texas secondary proved to be the most effective unit on either side of the ball.
Between the cornerbacks in Carrington Byndom, Quandre Diggs and Adrian Phillips, the trio provided shutdown coverage despite any yards gained by the Cyclones' passing offense. Consistency has never been an issue here, and for all the talk of the playmakers on the defensive line, linebacker and safety, the cornerback unit has been the most solid of them all.
In the back, Blake Gideon and Kenny Vaccaro were stout, getting involved in both the passing game and the running game. Both had a handful of tackles and a couple of sacks, Gideon flashed great hands by snatching a Steele Jantz pass and Vaccaro made plays in the opposition's backfield.
In the fourth quarter, the Horns were able to get reps for their future, and the inexperience showed.
Nevertheless, it was a great overall performance from "DB U."
The Longhorns finally got some results on special teams via a blocked punt returned for a touchdown, as two true freshmen delivered for a unit that has been pretty lackluster so far.
Mykkele Thompson flashed his athleticism to get a hand on the punt and Josh Turner took it all the way back.
Apart from that scoring play, Justin Tucker was unimpressive in the punting game with a 31.8 average, though he did convert three of four field goal attempts.
As far as kickoff coverage is concerned, the Horns maintained the status quo. It wasn't great, but it wasn't awful.
Against Oklahoma, one big play on special teams could be the difference between a close game and a blowout.
Coaching and Game Plan
Minus the 14 points given up late in the game, Manny Diaz ran a defensive game plan that neutralized Iowa State's receivers and controlled the running game to an extent.
For the second game in a row, the defense created turnovers that set up the offense with great field position.
Offensively, it was hit and miss for most of the night. Texas benefited a great deal from Bryan Harsin's misdirection-heavy offense. However, miscues on the blocking scheme really hindered the running game from taking off as it should have.
All things considered, the coaches played this game to a tee. They didn't let the game get out of hand and pump too much sunshine into the young guys before the biggest matchup of the season.
Aside from the misdirection leading to a couple of scores, a result from Harsin's offensive mind, there was little to take away from this game that warrants a ton of praise.
Texas outclassed Iowa State by a long shot, but the Cyclones kept themselves down with too many penalties and too many miscues that kept the Longhorns rolling along.
Intangibles will play a much bigger role against Oklahoma, as either side has the talent depth to influence the game in either direction.