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FIRST LOOK: The Texas Longhorns

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Baylor heads to Austin to square off against Charlie Strong’s Longhorns on Saturday at 2:30. Let’s do this.

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Kansas v Baylor Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images
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8/6 BAYLOR (6–0, 3–0) at NR/NR Texas (3–4, 1–3)
Oct. 29, 2016 | 2:30 p.m. CT
Austin, Texas | Darrell K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium (100,119)

TV: ABC
Listen | Gametracker Gametracker | Game Notes Notes

OPPONENT: Texas Longhorns
ODB GAME HUB: Baylor Bears vs. Texas Longhorns 2016
MEET THE PRESS: Baylor @ Texas
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Texas Longhorns
MEDIA GUIDE: 2016 Texas Football Media Guide (Click here for roster)
LAST MEETING: 23–17 Texas | ODB Game Hub
LAST GAME: L; K-State 24–21 Texas
SB NATION BLOG: Barking Carnival and Burnt Orange Nation
SPREAD: Baylor –3.5 (Open: Baylor –2)
TV COVERAGE: ABC, 2:30 p.m. CST Saturday WEATHER FORECAST: Clear, high of 88° (wunderground puts game time temp at 85°)

SBNation.com Texas Preview
baylorbears.com Preview
Bears vs. Longhorns Coverage

A Program on the Rocks?

After a 5–7 season, the Longhorns made significant changes on the offensive side of the ball, going out and hiring Sterlin Gilbert to be Texas’ offensive coordinator. As we all know, Gilbert was the OC at Tulsa and is a disciple of the Art Briles offense. The offense also got an infusion of talent as the Longhorns were the biggest beneficiaries of the departure of Baylor’s commits over the summer. While the offense has shown some promise under Gilbert’s tutelage and in the hands of freshman QB Shane Buechele, it hasn’t found consistency hoped for (though, this isn’t necessarily surprising, given the fact that it’s a brand-new system at Texas). Meanwhile, the defense has faltered significantly, leading Charlie Strong to assume defensive coordinator responsibilities. With the struggles continuing, rumors of Charlie Strong’s demise have resumed apace, with rumors circulating this week that Strong’s firing is "all but official," with Tom Herman set to step in. Of course, that should come as a shock to the last coach that was a "done deal" to Texas… Nick Saban. We all know how that worked out.

Meanwhile, Texas has what seems like an uphill road to climb to make it to another bowl.

One other thing to note: Texas is 3–0 at home, with wins over Notre Dame, UTEP, and Iowa State. The Longhorns are winless in their four road games.

Texas Longhorns 2016 Schedule

Record: 3–4 | Second-order wins (diff.): 3.8 (0.8) | S&P+ Rk: 45
Date Opponent Opp. S&P+ Rk Score W-L Win
Expectancy
Adj. Scoring
Margin
Percentile
Performance
Off.
Percentile
Def.
Percentile
4-Sep Notre Dame 54 50–47 W 79% 6.4 84% 84% 40%
10-Sep UTEP 122 41–7 W 100% 23.3 79% 56% 78%
17-Sep at California 44 43–50 L 33% –3.4 63% 67% 31%
1-Oct at Oklahoma State 36 31–49 L 33% –3.4 63% 78% 17%
8-Oct vs. Oklahoma 13 40–45 L 9% –10.5 31% 49% 52%
15-Oct Iowa State 97 27–6 W 100% 27.4 73% 53% 87%
22-Oct at Kansas State 58 21–24 L 28% –4.7 28% 52% 52%
Date Opponent Opp. S&P+ Rk Win
Probability
Proj.
W-L
Proj.
Margin
Proj.
Score
Cumulative
Proj. Wins
29-Oct Baylor 11 28% L –9.9 26.4 - 36.3 3.28
5-Nov at Texas Tech 53 48% L –1.0 38.2 - 39.2 3.76
12-Nov West Virginia 21 39% L –4.7 30.2 - 34.9 4.15
19-Nov at Kansas 109 78% W 13.5 37.8 - 24.3 4.94
25-Nov TCU 30 48% L –0.8 33.1 - 33.9 5.42

Week One started the season off with a bang for the Longhorns, as the unranked Longhorns defeated the then Top 10-ranked Fighting Irish in Overtime, which of course prompted Joe Tess (and many, many others) to pronounce, "Texas is back!" Of course, that’s become something of a meme on social media as it’s turned out that Notre Dame may not make a bowl and Texas has succumbed to its own struggles.

Last weekend’s loss against Kansas State puts the Longhorns in a tough spot. At 3–4, they have to win 3 out of 5 to avoid missing out on a bowl for the second consecutive year, something that hasn’t happened at Texas since the John Mackovic era in 1992–1993. It seems like it’s basically a coin flip, with the S&P+ projections giving them a 46% chance to finish at 6–6 or better.

Texas Longhorns 2016 Individual Stats

Quarterbacks

Player Ht, Wt Year Comp Att Yards TD INT Comp
Rate
Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
Shane Buechele 6’1, 191 FR 140 217 1722 15 5 64.5% 15 6.5% 7.1
Tyrone Swoopes 6’4, 249 SR 5 8 66 0 1 62.5% 0 0.0% 8.3

True Freshman Shane Buechele has been hailed as the savior of Longhorn football, and has shown both flashes of brilliance and his youth in his first year as the starter at Texas. His numbers are impressive, throwing for more yardage than our own Seth Russell, while throwing one fewer touchdown and one more interception. He’s taken quite a few more sacks, which is unsurprising, given the fact that he’s merely a freshman. That being said, he’s made some really impressive throws and will be the most talented quarterback that the Bears have faced to date, save maybe Mason Rudolph. At any rate, it might be that Texas has finally found a quarterback. Time and experience will tell.

Rushing & Receiving Stats

Player Pos. Ht, Wt Year Rushes Yards TD Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Opp.
Opp.
Rate
Fumbles
(Lost)
D’Onta Foreman RB 6’1, 249 JR 141 855 8 6.1 5.0 45.4% 3 (2)
Chris Warren III RB 6’2, 252 SO 62 366 3 5.9 4.5 43.5% 0 (0)
Shane Buechele QB 6’1, 191 FR 42 189 1 4.5 2.8 52.4% 2 (0)
Tyrone Swoopes QB 6’4, 249 SR 37 135 6 3.6 2.6 29.7% 0 (0)
Kyle Porter RB 5’9, 208 FR 29 117 0 4.0 3.8 27.6% 0 (0)
Jerrod Heard WR 6’3, 201 SO 4 –4 0 –1.0 9.4 50.0% 0 (0)
Tristian Houston RB 5’11, 220 FR 3 3 0 1.0 0.0 0.0% 0 (0)
Dorian Leonard WR 6’4, 200 JR 3 –9 0 –3.0 18.3 33.3% 0 (0)
Michael Dickson P 6’2, 209 SO 1 6 0 6.0 1.0 100.0% 0 (0)
NOTE: Quarterback run totals above do not include sacks (which are counted toward pass averages below) or kneeldowns.

With Chris Warren III still out, junior D’Onta Foreman takes the lion’s share of Texas’s rushing attempts. Foreman’s numbers have been respectable since the Oklahoma game, averaging at least 4.5 yards per carry in each of the other games. His worst performance came in their best win over Big 12 Competition where he rushed for only 136 yards on 30 carries at 4.5 yards per carry.

Of course, Tyrone Swoopes (SwoopEES) leads the "18 Wheeler Package" which may be featured a bit more against Baylor’s smaller front–7. We’ll see. It hasn’t quite had the impact that some thought it might have this season, largely attributed to the fact that "OH LOOK THE 6’4" GUY IS AT THE QB POSITION I THINK THEY’RE RUNNING THE FOOTBALL."

Player Pos. Ht, Wt Year Targets Catches Yards TD Yds/
Catch
Yds/
Target
Catch Rate Success Rate Target
Rate
Armanti Foreman WR 5’11, 205 JR 37 23 207 2 9.0 5.6 62.2% 48.6% 17.2%
John Burt WR 6’3, 189 SO 32 16 197 1 12.3 6.2 50.0% 37.5% 14.9%
Dorian Leonard WR 6’4, 200 JR 27 14 233 3 16.6 8.6 51.9% 48.1% 12.6%
Jerrod Heard WR 6’3, 201 SO 25 18 227 3 12.6 9.1 72.0% 52.0% 11.6%
Jake Oliver WR 6’3, 215 JR 24 18 186 0 10.3 7.8 75.0% 58.3% 11.2%
Jacorey Warrick WR 5’11, 173 SR 23 19 207 2 10.9 9.0 82.6% 60.9% 10.7%
Collin Johnson WR 6’6, 212 FR 16 12 109 0 9.1 6.8 75.0% 68.8% 7.4%
Devin Duvernay WR 5’11, 195 FR 13 10 273 3 27.3 21.0 76.9% 61.5% 6.0%
Lorenzo Joe WR 6’3, 204 JR 9 7 41 0 5.9 4.6 77.8% 33.3% 4.2%
D’Onta Foreman RB 6’1, 249 JR 4 3 44 0 14.7 11.0 75.0% 75.0% 1.9%
Lil’Jordan Humphrey WR 6’4, 222 FR 2 2 15 0 7.5 7.5 100.0% 100.0% 0.9%
Kyle Porter RB 5’9, 208 FR 2 2 10 0 5.0 5.0 100.0% 0.0% 0.9%
Andrew Beck TE 6’3, 253 JR 1 1 39 1 39.0 39.0 100.0% 100.0% 0.5%

This is a pretty talented WR corps, especially now that Devin Duvernay is starting to come on (did you guys know he can’t be covered?). You might recognize that name as "the one that got away but not really because his LOI was never sent in so he never actually signed with Baylor." He’s recently opened up about why he left Baylor. I’ll let you find those remarks and the resulting comments. I haven’t the heart to link them. And I’m digressing pretty hard here.

The Bears are facing the Briles offense, an offense that it gets to practice against week-in and week-out. We know what to expect here. Some downfield shots to these receivers that will test our cornerbacks and safeties probably more than they’ve been tested to date. They’ve done a good job of keeping the ball in front of them to date. Will they be able to this week?

Individual Defensive Stats

Name Pos Ht, Wt Year Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Anthony Wheeler LB 6’2, 228 SO 41.0 9.4% 2.0 0.0 0 1 1 0
Malik Jefferson LB 6’3, 238 SO 32.0 7.3% 3.5 2.0 0 2 0 0
Breckyn Hager DE 6’3, 227 SO 30.5 7.0% 5.5 4.0 0 1 0 0
Poona Ford DT 5’11, 303 JR 29.0 6.6% 4.5 0.0 0 0 1 0
Jason Hall S 6’3, 216 JR 25.5 5.8% 3.0 2.0 0 2 0 0
Chris Nelson DT 6’1, 297 SO 24.5 5.6% 4.5 1.5 0 0 1 0
Paul Boyette Jr. DT 6’3, 317 SR 21.0 4.8% 4.0 1.0 0 1 1 0
Kris Boyd CB 6’0, 190 SO 20.0 4.6% 1.5 0.0 0 3 1 0
Malcolm Roach OLB 6’2, 263 FR 16.5 3.8% 3.0 2.0 0 0 0 0
DeShon Elliott S 6’1, 202 SO 16.5 3.8% 2.0 1.0 0 1 0 0
John Bonney CB 6’1, 192 SO 16.0 3.7% 0.0 0.0 0 1 0 0
P.J. Locke III S 5’10, 200 SO 15.5 3.5% 1.0 1.0 0 0 0 0
Edwin Freeman LB 6’1, 228 SO 15.5 3.5% 1.0 0.0 1 0 0 0
Charles Omenihu DE 6’6, 254 SO 15.0 3.4% 3.0 2.0 0 0 0 0
Dylan Haines S 6’1, 200 SR 13.0 3.0% 0.0 0.0 2 0 0 1
Holton Hill DB 6’2, 195 SO 13.0 3.0% 0.0 0.0 0 1 1 0
Kevin Vaccaro S 5’8, 188 SR 11.5 2.6% 2.0 2.0 0 0 0 0
Naashon Hughes DE 6’4, 237 JR 10.5 2.4% 3.5 3.5 0 1 1 0
Jeffrey McCulloch LB 6’2, 241 FR 10.0 2.3% 2.0 1.0 0 0 0 0
Brandon Jones DB 5’11, 192 FR 8.5 1.9% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Davante Davis CB 6’2, 197 SO 8.0 1.8% 1.5 0.0 0 2 1 0
Timothy Cole LB 6’1, 239 SR 8.0 1.8% 1.0 1.0 0 1 0 0
Bryce Cottrell DE 6’2, 260 SR 6.5 1.5% 2.0 1.0 0 0 0 0
Sheroid Evans CB 6’1, 194 SR 6.5 1.5% 0.0 0.0 0 3 0 0
Antwuan Davis CB 6’0, 193 JR 5.0 1.1% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Note: It appears "Fumble Returns" are getting pulled instead of "Fumble Recoveries." My apologies. Will try to get that corrected.

Hey look, more familiar names! The only comment I have here before I wrap this post up is that Texas defensive line is undersized, and it shows in the advanced stats against the run. Hopefully we’ll talk about that tomorrow in the Advanced Stats Preview. Hopefully.

It’s Question Time!

1: After not playing much football in the past month, how excited are you for Saturday’s game?
2: What excites you the most about playing the Longhorns?
3: What concerns do you have with Saturday’s game? What aspect of Texas’s game threatens you the most?
4: What’s your favorite song in the musical Hamilton, and why?
5: I… got nothing else here. Give me a gif.