Film room: The Texas defensive line showed out versus Alabama

Joe Cook09/13/22
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Texas' defensive line (Will Gallagher/Inside Texas)

Texas defensive linemen accounted for 14 of the team’s 59 total tackles during Saturday’s 20-19 loss to Alabama, but they had a drastic effect on the game.

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Mainstays of the Texas defensive front like interior linemen Keondre Coburn, Moro Ojomo, T’Vondre Sweat, Vernon Broughton, Alfred Collins, and Byron Murphy plus EDGE defenders Barryn Sorrell and Ovie Oghoufo made life extremely difficult for the Alabama offensive line. So much so, Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien had to essentially abandon the run game in the second half.

“We loved how we played,” Coburn said Monday. “We felt like we striked. We felt like we dominated up front. We just felt like we did what we were supposed to do. We felt like we did what we’ve been doing since the spring, and what we keep preaching.”

How did it look? What was successful? What wasn’t? Take a look in the film room.

13:59 Q1 – 2nd and 9

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This is from the first series for the Crimson Tide, and is one of a handful of examples of Texas’ defensive linemen muddying things for the Bama offense. The tight end and the left tackle occupy the Longhorn EDGE defenders. The center and left guard have to handle Coburn while the right guard and right tackle move toward Ojomo.

Are the two Texas DTs in the play? Not necessarily, and even a play or two prior they were busting through the line. But they make most of the middle of the line a no-go on this play. Note where the linebackers are as a result. Jaylan Ford and DeMarvion Overshown both fill available gaps. Now, look where Ryan Watts is. If he’s in the weakside hole, this goes nowhere. But Jahmyr Gibbs shows good vision to get a few yards before Thompson and Ford wrap him up. Sometimes doing your job doesn’t go down in the stat sheet.

12:03 Q1 – 1st & 10

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After a long swing pass to Gibbs, the Tide take over on the 50. This ends up being a positive play for Alabama, and the offensive line does get some push. But look at the effort it requires. Again, both defensive tackles field two blockers and the linebackers do a solid job of filling gaps. At this point, guys are in the right spots and doing the right thing but we haven’t seen a ton of one-on-one (or two) wins quite yet.

11:31 Q1 – 2nd & 6

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It didn’t take long for Bryce Young to get his first introduction to the Longhorn defense. Bama is in a two-TE set, so Texas brings in an extra defensive lineman for what’s almost a 3-4 look. Texas brings six, but it’s one of the three-down linemen in Broughton who gets home about the same time as linebacker Diamonte Tucker-Dorsey.

10:15 Q1 – 2nd & 3

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Watch Ojomo. Though the turf monster gets Gibbs, No. 98 helps to end this play before it starts. Good work from Sorrell to hold the EDGE, and Jahdae Barron, too.

9:33 Q1 – 3rd & 7

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Just a three-man pressure that sees the JACK drop into coverage. Good coverage downfield and tenacious effort from Oghoufo earns him the sack. A big stop after being on the field for over five minutes, and a hint of what we would see in much of the game.

2:47 Q1 – 1st & 10

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There was a lot of good, but there was some bad and it resulted in a one-play drive for Alabama. There’s nothing particularly special about this play, though it is good scheming by Alabama. Instead of a tight end versus Overshown, it’s a tight end versus Guilbeau.

But what happened inside on what looks like a simple outside zone play? Sorrell gets pushed out of the play, as does Collins. D’Shawn Jamison tries to force the ball inside but there’s no force player there to handle Jase McClellan. After that, it’s off to the races. A bad play from multiple players, but one of the few blemishes on the day

15:00 Q2 – 2nd & Goal

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The defensive line didn’t just help on defensive plays. Look who is at fullback, that’s No. 90 Byron Murphy. Last year, linebacker Devin Richardson filled this role. This season, Steve Sarkisian and Tashard Choice thought to get bigger at the position.

14:19 Q2 – 2nd & 6

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The five-man pressure puts every Bama O-lineman in a one-on-one situation, and Murphy parlays his success on offense into a pressure in Young’s face on defense. Oghoufo also wins against his man, and the collapsing pocket forces a throw to a covered receiver rather than the open check down. Instead of the interception, Jamison gets a PBU. Bama gets a first down on the next play, but they would eventually punt to end this drive.

10:43 Q2 – 3rd & 9

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Here is the play that forces the punt. After several great stops on perimeter passes, Texas overloads the right side of the Alabama line with a pass-rush look. The protection doesn’t match-up properly, and Ford is there to reap the benefits. The Texas D-line had a great game, but so too did defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski

5:25 Q2 – 2nd & 8

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Another case of ‘it wasn’t all good.’ Collins feels the wrath of the double team, so much so he gets blocked outside of Oghoufo. Overshown tracks this down well but not before Gibbs gains a few yards.

2:39 Q2 – 2nd & 8

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Ojomo is playing some of the best football of his career in the early portions of the 2022 season. He straight-up beats his man, battles through what could be a hold, and makes the tackle to limit Gibbs to a one-yard gain.

Though this is a defensive line study… Jerrin Thompson was around the ball a lot in this game. He wanted it there, as evidenced by the swipe at the end.

13:15 Q3 – 1st & 10

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This is the first offensive play of the second half for Bama, and the clip starts pre-snap as evidence of the communication that took place on the field for much of this game. Alabama switches the formation up with a TE motion, and Ojomo and Coburn shift in response. Coburn then blows up the center on the outside run, and Ojomo uses his hands with precision to bottle up Gibbs. These guys did a lot of great things pre-snap and post-snap, and this may be some of the best evidence.

9:59 Q3 – 3rd & 7

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Okay, here’s the play. So much poor officiating takes place in one sequence, it’s hard to know where to start. Targeting? Pff. Not intentional grounding? Well, Sarkisian said Monday grounding is not reviewable. Young’s saving grace here was that the ball was deflected, because it’s obvious he’s throwing the ball at his linemen, who are not eligible receivers. Lenient officials could say he was trying to get it to McClellan. Either way, there are pictures that show his calf was down, meaning he was down. Though Texas kicked a field goal on the following drive, they probably would have liked the extra possession. Or for Oghoufo to have caught it, but that’s a difficult ask.

Now, for the defensive line, which gets some help from Guilbeau. Sorrell holds the edge, Sweat bursts through the line with the help of a bump from from Murphy, then wrangles Young for the play resulting in the… incomplete pass.

This was the fifth of six-straight Bama drives that went three-and-out.

4:38 Q3 – 3rd & 9

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This was the sixth three-and-out. Watch Murphy hustle, hustle, hustle, and swipe at Young’s leg to bring him down short of the line to gain.

From this point on, Alabama tried to put the game in Young’s hands, attempting 19 passes to just eight runs, and three of those eight were Young scrambles.

12:18 Q4 – 3rd & 7

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Here is one of those scrambles. Overshown has to stay with the back out of the backfield, and Broughton getting forced out of the play gives Young plenty of room to pick up the first. When Sarkisian talks about “rush lanes,” this is what he’s referring to. Oghoufo also gets pretty far upfield here. There are tired legs out there, but there are some fundamental demands that result in plays like this when they aren’t met — especially when the defense is in man coverage.

9:40 Q4 – 3rd & 3

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Maybe because it’s four-down territory, Alabama makes it pretty obvious they are going to pass here with how their O-line filled with players in two-point stances. Collins makes his man look silly and gets pressure on Young, who has to throw it to green grass.

From that point on, Young utilized a passing game that mostly got the ball out quickly. Gibbs was one of his top targets, and tacked on an important huge gain against Oghoufo in the later stages of the contest. Of course, Young also made the plays of the game to score a go-ahead touchdown and also avoid a corner blitz to set up the game-winning field goal.

Alabama thought they could wear down the Texas defensive line, but Bo Davis’ group had other plans. If they can replicate that play across the remaining 10 games, it’ll be tough sledding against the Longhorn defensive front.