Quick bitter impressions of Texas' 2007 season: Colt McCoy regressed, the secondary couldn't stop anybody, the LBs were slow, the offense leaned too much on Jamaal Charles, and Texas only won...10 games. Let's take a look at how 'bad' Texas really was last year and how much improvement they can expect in 2008.
Initial Stat Assault
Here are the 'EqPts' scores from the 2007 slate:
9/1: Texas 21.6, Arkansas State 11.0 (real score: 21-13)
9/8: Texas 26.4, TCU 3.3 (34-13)
9/15: Texas 19.8, Central Florida 18.7 (35-32)
9/22: Texas 46.4, Rice 6.9 (58-14)
9/29: Texas 22.1, Kansas State 15.5 (21-41...KSU had like 13 special teams TDs)
10/6: Oklahoma 23.5, Texas 21.2 (28-21)
10/13: Texas 46.5, Iowa State 6.8 (56-3)
10/20: Texas 26.9, Baylor 6.0 (31-10)
10/27: Texas 28.9, Nebraska 21.5 (28-25)
11/3: Texas 38.0, Oklahoma State 32.2 (38-35)
11/10: Texas 51.4, Texas Tech 35.2 (59-43)
11/23: Texas A&M 41.7, Texas 16.4 (38-30)
12/27: Texas 41.3, Arizona State 13.1 (52-34)
* KSU's win in Austin last year was possibly the flukiest win I've ever seen from a BTBS perspective. They should have lost by 7, and they won by 20.
* At the same time, UT had no business even being on the same field as ATM, yet they cut it close at the end.
* In the end, the 'disappointing' 10-3 season should have really been 11-2. And UT's only true bad performance was against ATM. But thank god UT did lose to ATM, as otherwise we'd have been relegated to whooping Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl (after being #1 on 12/1), with UT-Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl, and...well, I really enjoyed my trip to Dallas.
Offense (Success Rate / PPP / S&P)
Rushing: 47.1% / 0.46 / 0.926
Passing: 46.1% / 0.38 / 0.837
TOTAL: 46.6% / 0.42 / 0.884
Rushing (CLOSE): 46.1% / 0.42 / 0.877
Passing (CLOSE): 45.8% / 0.35 / 0.804
TOTAL (CLOSE): 45.9% / 0.38 / 0.842
Passing Downs S&P: 0.576
Non-Passing Downs S&P: 1.018
Redzone S&P: 1.052
Q1 S&P: 0.858
Q2 S&P: 0.902
Q3 S&P: 0.790
Q4 S&P: 0.988
1st Down S&P: 0.932
2nd Down S&P: 0.796
3rd Down S&P: 0.803
Pressure (i.e. Q4 and close) S&P: 1.169
Line Yards/Carry: 3.12
* Considering their QB didn't seem to have any arm strength and their best WR got hurt, these are pretty solid offensive numbers.
* UT's success rates (efficiency) were pretty decent, but their PPP numbers (explosiveness) were only so-so. This reflects the lack of a go-to WR, and the fact that Jamaal Charles only seemed to get going in Q4.
* UT was better overall than in close situations, meaning when they got things rolling (against the Rice's and Iowa State's of the world...and, to be fair, against Texas Tech too), they were great...but in tight games they were only above average.
* Their "pressure" numbers were aided in part by the fact that they didn't blow out teams with bad defenses like Nebraska, Arkansas State, and Central Florida. So when 'pressure' situations emerged, they moved the ball well. Still, though, they came through in those games.
Defense (Success Rate / PPP / S&P)
Rushing: 41.3% / 0.23 / 0.643
Passing: 42.4% / 0.26 / 0.688
TOTAL: 41.9% / 0.25 / 0.669
Rushing (CLOSE): 41.4% / 0.23 / 0.642
Passing (CLOSE): 42.9% / 0.26 / 0.686
TOTAL (CLOSE): 42.2% / 0.24 / 0.666
Passing Downs S&P: 0.356
Non-Passing Downs S&P: 0.818
Redzone S&P: 0.639
Q1 S&P: 0.657
Q2 S&P: 0.618
Q3 S&P: 0.639
Q4 S&P: 0.757
1st Down S&P: 0.761
2nd Down S&P: 0.623
3rd Down S&P: 0.460
Pressure S&P: 0.584
Line Yards/Carry: 2.49
* These numbers really are pretty strong. UT might not have lived up to UT standards on D, but let's not overstate the case here.
* Offenses were able to move the ball relatively efficiently (41.9% success rates were almost exactly the national average), but Texas' speed was able to cut off plays pretty quickly--opponents' PPP's were extremely low. You could move the ball on UT, but only if you were super-patient. And only if you got some yards on 1st down. The strong 'Horn DL pinned its ears back in passing downs.
Alright, so how did UT do compared to what was expected for the teams they played? Time to visit some '+' numbers. Remember...100 = average, <100 = bad, >100 = good.
EqPts+ = 162.55 (#15 nationally)
S&P+ = 129.01 (#18)
CloseS&P+ = 127.16 (#26)
RushingEqPts+ = 192.84 (#11)
RushingS&P+ = 134.82 (#13)
RushingCloseS&P+ = 118.02 (#21)
PassingEqPts+ = 118.67 (#42)
PassingS&P+ = 123.74 (#28)
PassingCloseS&P+ = 116.69 (#29)
Passing Downs S&P+ = 115.54 (#37)
Non-Passing Downs S&P+ = 119.95 (#12)
Redzone S&P+ = 143.48 (#9)
Q1 S&P+ = 116.46 (#32)
Q2 S&P+ = 123.41 (#18)
Q3 S&P+ = 119.29 (#29)
Q4 S&P+ = 123.55 (#15)
1st Down S&P+ = 118.23 (#15)
2nd Down S&P+ = 111.10 (#39)
3rd Down S&P+ = 149.02 (#11)
Line Yards+ = 109.60 (#27)
Close Line Yards+ = 108.26 (#34)
* These numbers are rather consistent across the board. They were solid in close games and better in non-close games.
* Jamaal Charles appears to have come through well in the redzone.
* I have an ongoing theory about Q1-Q4 numbers. Some teams are better in Q1 and Q3, while some are better in Q2 and Q4. My theory is that the Q1/Q3 teams' success is based around gameplanning and adjustments, while the Q2/Q4 teams succeed most primarily due to caliber of athlete and talent. Knowing the reputation Mack Brown has, the fact that Texas seems to be a Q2/Q4 team doesn't surprise me all that much.
EqPts+ = 125.47 (#14)
S&P+ = 128.16 (#21)
CloseS&P+ =137.71 (#16)
RushingEqPts+ = 198.38 (#2)
RushingS&P+ = 141.12 (#9)
RushingCloseS&P+ =136.32 (#9)
PassingEqPts+ = 123.50 (#32)
PassingS&P+ = 116.89 (#33)
PassingCloseS&P+ =113.15 (#39)
Passing Downs S&P+ = 130.13 (#18)
Non-Passing Downs S&P+ =107.47 (#38)
Redzone S&P+ =127.09 (#20)
Q1 S&P+ = 102.69 (#58)
Q2 S&P+ = 134.27 (#9)
Q3 S&P+ = 106.68 (#43)
Q4 S&P+ = 87.33 (#92)
1st Down S&P+ = 103.26 (#50)
2nd Down S&P+ = 130.05 (#10)
3rd Down S&P+ =121.68 (#23)
Line Yards+ = 128.64 (#6)
Close Line Yards+ =113.93 (#23)
* So overall, UT's defense really wasn't bad at all...even their pass defense. A couple things made a rather distinct impression on observers, though: 1) their utter collapse against ATM, and 2) their Q4 woes. The Q1 to Q2 progression suggests the same sort of "athletes taking over" impression that I spoke of on the offensive analysis. But while they regressed again in Q3, they completely and totally fell apart in Q4.
* Texas had what I'll call a high-leverage defense last year. If they could leverage you into uncomfortable situations, they would physically dominate you--they were great against the run (especially once they were up a couple TDs and could tee off), they were very good in passing downs, they were good on 2nd and 3rd downs. But if you kept them off-balance--nail them in Q1, be efficient on 1st downs, keep the game close until Q4, you had a chance against them. Of course, they still won 10 games.
* Ironically, while UT finished #14/#21/#16 in my three overall defense numbers, Auburn--former employer of new UT hotshot Defensive Coordinator Will Muschamp--finished #34/#38/#29. But if Muschamp can get his team to play defense for four quarters instead of just three, I think UT fans will be happy.
Alright, so that was 2007...what are some of the burning questions for 2008?
How will Colt McCoy do in '08?
Depends. As has been mentioned elsewhere, McCoy was a better scrambler at the end of the year than a passer--his rushing averages were indeed quite nice (55.6% / 0.49 PPP / 1.050 S&P). However, it's hard to project how he'll progress as a junior because it's impossible to know the state of his arm and the state of his head. His passing numbers (46.8% / 0.38 PPP / 0.848 S&P) were quite nice aside from the ugly INT totals (18). But those INTs are kinda sorta important. If he trusts his arm (and knows what he's capable of instead of throwing dumb passes), then he should at the very least be able to throw efficiently.
Having an explosive passing game, however, is a different matter. Quan Cosby (86.4% / 0.87 PPP / 1.735 S&P...not bad) returns, as does Jordan Shipley (77.8% / 1.37 PPP / 2.151 S&P). Neither of them are game-changers (though if Shipley can double his receptions and maintain those averages, he could be). Plus, they lose possession WR Nate Jones (1.505 S&P) and TE Jermichael Finley. They need to find some new blood. Lord knows they've got some options with potential--RSFr (and stud recruit) Malcolm Williams, true freshmen (and stud recruits) Dan Buckner and DJ Grant, etc.
Who will replace Jamaal Charles?
It's been made very clear just how much the 'Horns relied on Charles (47.1% / 0.47 PPP / 0.940 S&P) to bail them out last year. Now he's gone. His two main replacements are sophomore Vondrell McGee (42.7% / 0.38 PPP / 0.811 S&P) and senior Chris Ogbonnaya (42.3% / 0.35 PPP / 0.773 S&P), but there are some other candidates--Phil Steele likes RSFr (and spring game star) Foswhitt Whitaker to take over, and other youngsters/stud recruits like RSFr Cody Johnson (5'11, 255!) and Fr Jeremy Hills will have the opportunity to make some noise. It's doubtful any of them will duplicate Charles' numbers, though.
So what have we learned? If this weren't Texas, I'd have serious reservations about this offense--they lost their most productive RB, WR, and TE, and their QB has to bounce back from throwing a lot of really bad passes last year. But I'm just going to assume that one of the young WRs and one of the young RBs will step up. One thing I do know, however, is that...
Will the defense improve in 2008?
Yes. They weren't bad to begin with, their D-Line has Brian Orakpo, Lamarr Houston, Eddie Jones, Roy Miller, etc., they have a better D-Coordinator (at least one with a better reputation)...yes. Yes, they will improve. How did you like THAT analysis?
What about Special Teams?
Their special teams unit was #30 in the nation in 2007, according to my rankings, Ryan Bailey's a solid kicker, Trevor Gerland's an okay punter, and Quan Cosby is a very good return man. In the words of Phil Steele, all of the key players return and the Horns should improve upon their #26 ranking.
If Sam Bradford has anything resembling a sophomore slump, Texas could win the South. They're a lot closer than people want to think. Texas Tech is the flavor of the month, but Texas is the second-best team in the South. Of course, a) they play Tech in Lubbock, and b) if the pass defense isn't solid, the October stretch of Oklahoma -> Missouri -> Oklahoma State -> at Texas Tech could be murder. But needless to say, this is the best, most talented team on Mizzou's schedule in 2008, and it stinks that we're playing them in Austin.