Football

Texas’ notable number: Post-bye week offenses under Tom Herman — and the number 17

Posted October 24th, 2018

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Story highlights
  • In Tom Herman's 14 games as head coach and/or offensive coordinator, his offenses average 35.5 points coming off bye weeks.
  • In his first season at Texas, the Longhorns had only 17 points in their 17-7 win over Iowa State after an open week.
  • Oklahoma State ranks 78th nationally in points allowed but leads the country in sacks.

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

This week’s notable number is 17 — the number worn by kicker Cameron Dicker and receiver D’Shawn Jamison, two freshmen who have both won Big 12 special teams player of the week awards. Tight ends Andrew Beck and Cade Brewer have combined for 17 catches this season. And in his only 100-yard rushing performance as a Longhorn, future Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry ran 17 times in the 1949 Orange Bowl win over Georgia.

Seventeen also represents the number of points that Texas scored against Iowa State last year on Sept. 28, coming off the Longhorns’ bye week. Texas won on the road, 17-7.

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The Longhorns (6-1, 4-0 Big 12), now ranked No. 6 in the country, were off last week. Texas went into its bye on the heels of a 23-point outing against Baylor, but the team did score 116 points against ranked USC, TCU and Oklahoma teams. The Longhorns will be on the road at Oklahoma State, which flouts the 78th-ranked scoring defense in the country, allowing 28.4 points per game.

Is there any concern that last week’s idleness has cooled Texas’ offensive momentum?

Texas running back Toneil Carter (30) is lifted into the air by offensive lineman Derek Kerstetter (68) after catching a touchdown pass at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa on Sept. 28, 2017. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

“We got some more time to rest or whatever, but I don’t believe our momentum has stopped,” junior wide receiver Collin Johnson said. “We’ll pick up back where we left off and keep working hard. That’s all we know, just focus on Oklahoma State Saturday.”

Texas coach Tom Herman’s background is in offense. Following last season’s bye, which came after the 27-24 loss at USC, Texas was held to 312 yards of offense in Ames. During Herman’s two years at Houston, the Cougars followed up their regular-season byes with 30- and 59-point games.

This is only Herman’s fourth year as a head coach, so there’s a relatively small sample size. If you include the 10 years he spent as an offensive coordinator at Texas State, Rice, Iowa State and Ohio State, offenses attached to Herman have averaged 35.5 points in regular-season games following bye weeks. In one of those games, Ohio State scored 60 on Illinois in 2013. In another, Texas State mustered 13 points in a 2006 loss to Stephen F. Austin.

A bye would conceivably give a team more time to prepare for its opponent, and part of UT’s game plan for Oklahoma State was installed last week. Herman  spent part of the week recruiting and watching flag football with his family. Some Longhorns used the down time to catch up on their sleep. Texas gave players a few days off, and some of the time on the field was used to focus on fundamentals.

“That’s kind of what you use bye weeks for, go back and revisit the fundamentals you haven’t hit since camp,” Beck said. “We had a great couple days of practice and we were very productive. It was exciting to see because coaches and older leaders were worried that we were going to be checked out and that was not the case.”

Texas offensive lineman Elijah Rodriguez said the bye week “does help to be able to game-plan for two weeks and watch film for two weeks.” On film, the Longhorns likely spotted that Oklahoma State allowed 41 and 48 points in losses to Texas Tech and Iowa State. The Cowboys’ 30 sacks, though, lead the nation. Oklahoma State also was off last week.

Texas, averaging 30.7 points per game, ranks 52nd nationally in scoring. Freshman running back Keaontay Ingram is coming off the first 100-yard performance of his career, and Johnson and Lil’Jordan Humphrey have formed a dynamic duo in the receiving corps. Texas has not yet announced if starting quarterback Sam Ehlinger has recovered from his shoulder injury or if backup Shane Buechele will start.

Recent notable numbers

Devin Duvernay’s return to the spotlight — and the number 29

The Longhorns, the NCAA’s targeting rule — and the number 6

Samuel Cosmi’s first career start — and the number 10

A positively negative impact on running games — and the number 30

Texas’ fourth quarter offense — and the number 56

Pass-catching running backs at Texas — and the number 46

The disappearance of UT’s receiver rotation — and the number 13

The resurgence of the Horns’ pass rush — and the number 9

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