Defense can’t compensate for offensive woes

Peter Sblendorio

Texas’ 28-7 loss to Baylor on Saturday marked the second consecutive loss at home and third overall defeat for the Longhorns this season. Here are four things that stuck out from the game.

Offense scuffles again

After showing improvements each of the last two weeks, the Texas offense failed to get anything going this time.

Despite winning the time of possession battle, the Longhorns were scoreless until junior running back Johnathan Gray’s 2-yard touchdown run with fewer than three minutes remaining in the game. The Longhorns managed just 334 yards of total offense — the fourth consecutive week they’ve failed to reach 350 yards — and turned the ball over three times.

Texas ran the ball better than it had since the first week of the season, racking up 190 yards on 40 carries as a team. It wasn’t enough to make a difference, however, as the Longhorns averaged just 4.2 yards on passing plays.

Swoopes struggles

After turning in a trio of promising performances in his first three career starts, sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes struggled mightily to move the ball against Baylor.

Swoopes completed just 16-of-34 passes for 144 yards, his fewest of the season. His 70.9 passer-rating and two interceptions were his career-worsts as a starter. It was also the first time in four career starts that he failed to record a touchdown pass, and his fumble at the goal line in the second quarter cost Texas a chance to tie the game before halftime.

Head coach Charlie Strong said Swoopes could have played better, but kept matters in perspective.

“It can’t rest solely on him, and he knows that,” Strong said. “He comes into the season as the backup. You lose your starting quarterback. So now, all of a sudden, you just can’t say, ‘Here is your backup quarterback, and everything is resting on your shoulders to go lead this football team.’”

Defense stifles Petty

Baylor senior quarterback Bryce Petty never managed to find a rhythm against the active Longhorn defense, causing him to turn in the worst start of his collegiate career.

The Heisman hopeful completed just seven passes for 111 yards, both career lows in games he has started. His 31.8 completion percentage was his worst mark as a starter, as was his 104.2 passer rating. 

Following the game, Petty credited the Texas defensive scheme for keeping him off balance.

“I’ll have to be honest with you; my head is still spinning trying to think about it,” Petty said. “They threw so many looks at us, coverage-wise. I couldn’t tell you what they did on consecutive plays.”

Special teams miscue

The Longhorns had a chance to take an early lead in the first quarter, when Strong sent junior kicker Nick Rose on the field to attempt a 52-yard field goal.

Momentum quickly swung to Baylor’s favor, however, as the Bears blocked Rose’s low, line-drive kick, and junior safety Terrell Burt returned it for a 62-yard touchdown. The costly decision to attempt the long field goal was questionable, considering Rose had missed three of six field goals and an extra point coming into the game.

The Longhorn special teams unit was spurned again in the third quarter when Baylor senior punter Spencer Roth faked a punt on fourth-and-5 and ran 19 yards for the first down. The Bears went on to score their first offensive touchdown of the game later that drive.