Texas football coordinators look to right ship against Baylor

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Photo Credit: Eddie Gaspar

Last week’s bye couldn’t have come at a better time for the Texas football team.

The Longhorns are riding their fourth two-game losing streak since head coach Tom Herman took over the program in 2017 and are scratching their heads for answers after dropping out of the AP Top 25 for the fourth year in a row. In a Wednesday press conference, defensive coordinator Chris Ash said the team used the off week to reevaluate its strategies and rest and recover.

“We’ve lost our last two games,” Ash said. “We evaluated everything. We evaluated explosive plays, runs and passes. We evaluated first- and second-down calls. Just finding ways that we could (improve), whether it’s an alignment, it’s a technique, it’s a call, it’s an adjustment to a call, anything that we could try to evaluate that would help us get better. We looked at all of it.”

On the opposite side of the ball, offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich is stressing consistency, even for an offense that leads the nation in multiple categories. More than half of Texas’ 45 points against Oklahoma came in the fourth quarter and overtime. 

Yurcich said he also hopes to see more consistent play from senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger, who leads the nation in passing touchdowns and points responsible for. The quarterback also ranks in the top 20 in overall quarterback rating.

“Overall, (there’s been) too much inconsistency at the quarterback position right now,” Yurcich said. “It’s never perfect, and we’re never happy with it. You can look at certain statistics and think that we’re pretty good, but we know that there’s room to improve. … We have to continue to work to be better.”

Quarterback hasn’t been the only position on offense needing improvement. 

Junior running back Keaontay Ingram is coming off back-to-back games with a fumble lost, and Longhorn receivers struggled to win one-on-one matchups against Oklahoma. 

Yurcich added that finding a 50-50 balance between run plays and passing plays was a point of emphasis during the bye. This week against Baylor, Yurcich said it’s his responsibility to call scheme-beating plays and avoid self-inflicted wounds.

“It falls on my shoulders to be in the right play at the right time,” Yurcich said. “We’ve got to make sure there’s no missed assignments and the things we can control, which are penalties and execution. And that falls all on me. I’m to blame. We’ve got to make sure we’re crossing our t’s and dotting our i’s.”

Neither Yurcich nor Ash pointed to a particular reason why a team ranked No. 14 in the preseason poll and an outside favorite to sneak into the College Football Playoff is 2–2 and unranked through the first third of the season. But both said Texas’ failures ultimately come down to coaching, penalties and practice habits.

“When you lose a game, it’s easy to blame the virus issue and the lost time, it’s easy to blame this or that,” Ash said. “I take the stance, ‘We lost a game. Let’s evaluate why we lost a game (and) let’s get better at it.’ There’s no blame. Everybody has gone through the same thing. It’s just how you handle it, and it is what it is.”