Texas defensive coordinator Chris Ash oversees a practice earlier this year. (Texas Athletics photo)

Football

Texas’ notable number: How UT is faring under its new coordinators — and the number 9

Posted October 23rd, 2020

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Each week this fall, we’re looking at a specific number that’s tied to Texas football.

This week’s notable number is 9 — the jersey number that Texas has assigned to cornerback Josh Thompson and wide receiver Al’Vonte Woodard. So far, Texas has allowed nine rushing touchdowns this season.  Derrick Johnson’s nine interceptions from 2001-04 are a career record among UT linebackers.

Nine also accounts for the schools in the Big 12, ACC and SEC that hired new coordinators for both their offenses and defenses this offseason.

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Texas is one of those schools. This past winter, Texas tabbed former Rutgers head coach Chris Ash to run the defense. Mike Yurcich was lured away from Ohio State to become Tom Herman’s second offensive coordinator at UT.

Are those hires working out?

It’s too early to make a final ruling. We do have a small sample size to look at, though. Texas has played four times this season.

Offensively, Texas is averaging 49.5 points and 495.3 yards per game. Last season, Texas averaged 35.2 points and 465.8 yards. Texas last had a jump of at least 10 points per game between the 2004 and 2005 seasons. (This is the part of the story where we point out that Texas’ numbers are partially skewed by the fact that the Longhorns have played in five overtime periods).

Defensively, Texas is allowing 36.3 points and 400.3 yards per game. Last season, Texas allowed 27.5 points and 431.5 yards per game. (Once again, this is the part of the story where we point out that Texas’ numbers are partially skewed by the fact that the Longhorns have played in five overtime periods).

Like Texas, Vanderbilt and Syracuse hired new offensive and defensive coordinators during the offseason. Arkansas, Baylor, Boston College, Florida State and Ole Miss landed new head coaches and got new coordinators on both sides of the football as part of the deal. Mississippi State technically only added a defensive coordinator ahead of the 2020 season, but the Bulldogs don’t have an offensive coordinator on staff since new hire Mike Leach is an offensive-minded head coach.

Of those nine aforementioned schools, only Arkansas, Baylor, Ole Miss and Texas are scoring more points in 2020 than they did in 2019. Arkansas, Boston College, Mississippi State and Syracuse are each allowing fewer points this season.

 2019 PPG2020 PPG2019 OPP PPG2020 OPP PPG
Arkansas21.4 23.0 (four games)36.825.5 (four games)
Baylor33.634.0 (two games)19.820.5 (two games)
Boston College29.023.4 (five games)32.224.6 (five games)
Florida State27.924.2 (five games)27.832.4 (five games)
Mississippi State27.618.5 (four games)28.826.8 (four games)
Ole Miss26.636.5 (four games)26.547.0 (four games)
Syracuse28.319.6 (five games)30.729.6 (five games)
Texas35.349.5 (four games)27.536.3 (four games)
Vanderbilt16.58.7 (three games)31.833.0 (three games)

An odd offseason did not help UT’s transition to a new coordinator on offense. It didn’t smooth things over on a defense that was altering its scheme. Due to the coronavirus, Texas did not get to hold its yearly spring practices. The schedules for the Longhorns’ offseason and fall camp were also altered.

This week, Ash and Yurcich both said that lost time has essentially been lost to time. The coordinators did not want to blame any of this season’s hiccups on those forgone practices, however.

“There are no excuses. There’s no blame game,” Ash said. “There’s some things that we’ve got to get better at and that’s what we’re working really hard to do.”

Said Yurcich: “I’m not trying to make any excuses for anything. I think we’re all on the same page, it’s an even playing field. Some guys had a little more spring than others and some staffs were together in previous years so maybe there’s a difference there.”

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