SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 05: Jerry Tillery #99 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish tackles Jerrod Heard #13 of the Texas Longhorns for a loss of yards during the second quarter at Notre Dame Stadium on September 5, 2015 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)


Longhorns notebook: Offensive line struggles carry into new year

Posted September 6th, 2015


SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Charlie Strong opened his postgame press conference by criticizing — who else? — the offensive line.

Texas’ line promised to be better this season. After one game, it isn’t.

“You gotta win the game at the line of scrimmage,” Strong said. “Didn’t win the game at the line of scrimmage. Offensively, we have to protect our quarterback. (Notre Dame) did a great job of rushing our quarterback.”


In Saturday’s 38-3 loss, Texas averaged 2.1 yards per rushing attempt and surrendered four sacks and six hurries.

In the buildup to the game, Strong said he anticipated using backups to spell the line starters. Didn’t happen. This clunker was authorized exclusively by the starting five, which included true freshmen Connor Williams and Patrick Vahe.

“You can’t put it all on them,” play-caller Shawn Watson said. “We’re pretty simple in what we’re doing right now. We’ll take a look at it and see if we need to even simplify it.”

Blocking was so poor that Watson said it’s “really hard” to evaluate the play of quarterback Tyrone Swoopes.

“You have to give him a chance to hang in there and compete,” Watson said.

Johnson hurt: Texas’ top receiver, Marcus Johnson, did not finish the game after injuring his right ankle before halftime. Johnson (zero catches) was seen wearing a protective boot on his right foot.

Strong did not provide an update on Johnson.

Deep ball: Of Swoopes’ 93 passing yards, more than half — 48 — came on a deep ball to freshman John Burt to start a third-quarter drive.

Burt outran coverage on a post route, leading to a Nick Rose field goal.

“We had some plans to get the ball down the field, and that was just one of those plays and it worked,” Swoopes said.

ND rushing attack: Despite playing most of the night without their top two backs, the Irish wracked up 214 yards and two scores on the ground. C.J. Prosise carried 20 times for 98 yards, and freshman Joshua Adams scored on runs of 14 and 25 yards.

It was not a good look for Texas, which failed to capitalize on the early ankle injury to starting running back Tarean Folston. Over the summer, the Irish lost back-up Greg Bryant to an academic suspension.

Short yards: Seniors Tank Jackson, Johnathan Gray and Duke Thomas served as team captains. … Left guard Sedrick Flowers was penalized 15 yards for throwing a punch. … There were no turnovers in the game, though Texas did force two fumbles that ND recovered. ND is 17-0 under coach Brian Kelly when it doesn’t turn the ball over. … Freshman Michael Dickson punted 10 times and averaged 42.3 yards. He hit one that got a nice roll and traveled 56 yards. … Peter Jinkens led Texas with 10 tackles and had the Longhorns’ only sack.