Nick Jordan

Johnathan Gray led the Texas offense on Thanksgiving. Gray rushed for only 47 yards in the loss to TCU.

Photo Credit: Andrew Torrey | Daily Texan Staff

Why Texas Lost
This loss falls on UT’s offense and its turnovers. Texas had four turnovers, three interceptions and one fumble. David Ash’s two interceptions were both in the red zone and his fumble led to a field goal by the Horned Frogs. Of the four times the Longhorns were in the red zone, they scored one touchdown and two field goals. Johnathan Gray was Texas’ leading rusher. He had 12 rushes for 38 yards in the first half and just three carries for nine yards in the second half.

First: After a promising opening drive, Ash threw an interception in the red zone. TCU’s Matthew Tucker took advantage of the possession and scored a two-yard touchdown. Nick Jordan hit a 25-yard field goal.
Second: Ash threw another interception and lost a fumble. Case McCoy replaced him. TCU’s Jaden Oberkrom hit a field goal to give the Horned Frogs a 14-3 halftime lead.
Third: Both Jordan and Oberkrom hit field goals as the Horned Frogs led 17-6.
Fourth: TCU was held to a field goal in the fourth. Jeremy Hills scored on an 8-yard touchdown. Texas’ comeback attempt was ended when McCoy threw an interception to Sam Carter with less than two minutes left in the game.

By the numbers 
4:1: The turnover ratio. Texas’ four turnovers kept them off the scoreboard, especially since Ash’s interceptions were both in the red zone. McCoy’s interception destroyed any chances of a last minute comeback.
217: TCU’s rushing yards. Texas’ run defense seemed to be improving over the last few weeks. But the Horned Frogs, led by Tucker’s two touchdowns, dominated the line of scrimmage.

Stock down
David Ash: Kansas seemed to be so far away. Since then, he bounced back to have strong performances and beat Texas Tech and Iowa State. But his three turnovers were a huge contributor to why Texas lost to TCU. He went 10-for-21 for 104-yards and consistently underthrew his passes.
Run defense: During Texas’ wins over Kansas, Texas Tech and TCU, it seemed that the run defense’s problems had ended. But the Horned Frogs completely relied on the run to defeat the Longhorns. They ran the ball on 47 of 58 offensive plays for 217 yards, both of their touchdowns coming on the ground.

Whats next?
This loss put Texas out of the BCS Bowl and Big 12 pictures. The team will head to Manhattan to face No. 7 Kansas State. Though the Wildcats lost to Baylor, this game will be one of Texas’ toughest matchups this season.

Printed on Monday, Nov. 26, 2012 as: Turnovers doom the offense on Thanksgiving Day

Jordan went 1-for-3 against Wyoming and a missed extra point.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Like their offensive and defensive counterparts, the Longhorns’ special teams had moments of brilliance in their season opener while leaving much to be desired.

In his first career start as defensive tackle, Chris Whaley blocked an extra point. In his first career game with Texas, Alex King booted all three of his punts more than 45 yards, one of which was downed inside the Wyoming Cowboys’ five-yard line.

Head coach Mack Brown called his team’s kickoff coverage “the best we’ve had” but also pointed out, like most observers, the glaring need for improvement from his kicker. With Justin Tucker kicking for the Ravens and Penn State transfer Anthony Fera out with a groin injury, true freshman Nick Jordan took over the place-kicking duties.

But the Coppell product missed two of his three field goal attempts, hitting a 31-yarder but missing a 46-yarder wide left in the second quarter and coming up short on a 44-yard try in the fourth, when he also had an extra point blocked after Texas’ final score of the night.

In one game, Jordan missed as many field goal attempts from 40 and 49 yards as Tucker did each of the last two years when he went 9-for-11 from that range. Hunter Lawrence hit 10 of 11 such kicks in 2009, including a 46-yarder as time expired against Nebraska in the Big 12 title game that sent the Longhorns to a national title game.

“I thought the first one was a really good kick,” Brown said. “It just went left. Then he makes a great kick but then on the last one, I thought it was a low snap. He grabbed it and tried to get it back, but he jerked it.”

It won’t matter against Wyoming, but the sooner the Longhorns can get a more reliable kicker on the field — such as Fera, who will also miss Saturday’s game against New Mexico — the better. For now, walk-on freshman Nick Rose, who handled the kickoff duties last week, will compete with Jordan for the place-kicking responsibilities.

“Since Anthony got hurt, they’ve been competing for it,” Brown said. “I’m really pleased with Nick Rose. I think he can be a weapon for us. We just need to figure out how to use him.”

Rose’s performance was also a bright spot on special teams for Texas. He sent three of seven kickoffs for touchbacks while Wyoming was stopped inside the 20-yard line on each of the other four, thanks to tackles by Sheroid Evans, Josh Turner, Dalton Santos and Tevin Jackson.

King’s punting (boots of 46, 58 and 56 yards) and Whaley blocking the extra point following an 82-yard touchdown pass by Brett Smith were also impressive special teams moments. Texas went on to score 24 unanswered points after Whaley’s big play.

“Obviously, the 11 guys that were on the field at that point were all just heartbroken,” defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said. “But to come back and block the ensuing point attempt, you could see a bunch of guys not feeling sorry for themselves and not really focusing on that play. But for us to block that PAT I think really speaks to the spirit that this team has.”

Thanks to guys like Whaley, King and Rose, all that stands between Texas and an elite special teams unit is a healthy Fera. Until then, the Longhorns will be sending an inexperienced and likely unreliable kicker onto the field.

Printed on Thursday, September 6th, 2012 as: Kicking must improve

The Longhorns will have to find reliable options to supplant the production of Justin Tucker, who handled the place-kicking and punting duties in 2011.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

For the first time in a long time Texas will have an entirely new group of players handling kicking and punting duties.

After a long line of successful kickers that included the likes of Ryan Bailey, Hunter Lawrence and most recently Justin Tucker, the torch will now be passed to a young group of players that will all be in burnt orange for the first time in 2012.

The initial depth chart lists true freshman Nick Jordan as the starting place-kicker, a position many thought was all but sewn up by Penn State transfer Anthony Fera. After re-aggravating a groin injury, Fera has quickly become an afterthought in the kicking department. At Coppell High School Jordan became an Army All-American and he seems to have carried over that momentum to the 40 Acres. Jordan has been tabbed as having one of the strongest legs in the 2012 class, and while he has yet to log any statistics as a Longhorn, he’s doing something right if he has already won the starting job.

It will be tough to replace the numbers that Tucker put up last year when he nailed 44 of 44 PATs and hit 17 of 21 field goals. There may be some growing pains with Jordan at kicker, but if he can learn from his mistakes early in his career he certainly has the ability to become the next great Texas kicker.

Another true freshman in Nick Rose will be tasked with kickoffs this season. If there’s one area Texas could use serious improvement it is the kickoff department. Last season Justin Tucker kicked off 70 times and recorded just 12 touchbacks. While it is a stretch to expect a touchback every kickoff, the ratio could use a boost.

That’s where Rose comes in to play.

In his senior season at Highland Park High School, Rose kicked off 87 times resulting in 48 touchbacks. I don’t have to do the math for you, that’s pretty damn good. If he can carry over those numbers as a Longhorn he will have no problem settling in as a kickoff specialist.

Like many kickers Rose also dabbles in the punting game, but for now he will only have to concern himself with kicking as he is listed as Jordan’s backup at place-kicker.

The third new face on special teams is Alex King, the new starting punter for the Longhorns. King joins Texas this season after spending the past four years with the Duke Blue Devils. During his career at Duke, King appeared in 24 games and punted a total of 111 times. His 41.38 career average ranks fourth-best in Duke history. King brings needed experience to the position and a fruitful leg to boot. In 2011, 17 of his 50 punts landed inside the opponents’ 20-yard line, something that could prove to be an asset to this year’s Texas team. If King can continue to pin opponents’ inside their own half, he could become a good friend of the Longhorns’ defense, who will be chomping at the bit to score a few touchdowns of their own.

Texas, Mack Brown still making up for 2003

Justin Tucker will enter this season as Texas’ do-it-all kicker. The Longhorns have given a scholarship to a kicker every other year since 2006.
Justin Tucker will enter this season as Texas’ do-it-all kicker. The Longhorns have given a scholarship to a kicker every other year since 2006.

Texas offered a scholarship to Coppell kicker Nick Jordan on Monday because Mack Brown still remembers 2003.

That’s the year he didn’t offer Georgetown’s Mason Crosby.

Colorado got him and for four years (2003-2006), Crosby was the best kicker in the country. He would finish his four-year career in Boulder as a unanimous All American, as Colorado’s all-time leader in points, was named Conference Player of the Week eight times his senior season, and kicked a 60-yard field goal. Of 203 career kickoffs, 138 were touchbacks.

Brown didn’t think that a scholarship needed to be spent on a kicker, because kickers don’t run or throw or tackle or block. They just kick, and just about all of them do it with the same proficiency.

So Texas offered Crosby nothing more than walk-on status. Four years later, Brown regretted the decision so much that he sent a handwritten letter to Crosby, apologizing for not offering him a scholarship, calling him the best college kicker he had ever seen, and told him he’d enjoy looking forward to watching him play on Sundays, according to the Amarillo Globe-News.

It never really bit the Longhorns in the butt as much as it could have — Dusty Mangum did hit that 37-yard field goal against Michigan in 2004 — but, it was an oversight that Brown has spent the past five years trying to correct.

He offered a scholarship in 2006 to Hunter Lawrence, one to Justin Tucker in 2008, one to William Russ in 2010 and now, to Jordan for the 2012 class.

Lawrence hit the game-winner against Nebraska in 2009, Tucker was the most valuable player on the team last season, Russ should be the heir-apparent once Tucker graduates after this season and Jordan will come after that.

Jordan, one of the top kickers in the country, wasn’t sure Texas would be able to offer him a scholarship initially, as scholarship numbers were almost at a max limit and he would be the third kicker on the roster (walk-on Ben Pruitt of The Woodlands will join the Longhorns for the 2011 season).

“They knew they wanted me, but the problem was that they had to come up with a scholarship,” Jordan said.

Texas came through with the scholarship — Brown’s determined not to make the same mistake twice.  

Read more in our blogs about Nick Jordan

Nick Jordan gave the Longhorns their 18th football commitment for the 2012 recruiting class Monday.

“It feels great,” Jordan said. “There’s been more support than I could have even imagined.”

Jordan camped at Texas in June and came away impressed, so much so that he decided to reach out to the UT coaching staff.

“I got in touch with [co-offensive coordinator] Major Applewhite, and he told me he liked what he saw at the camp,” Jordan said. “Since then, Texas was talking to me about the possibility of a scholarship.”

Each NCAA Division 1 football program is allotted only 85 scholarships a year. Spread over four classes, and those who red shirt, coaches have to do their due diligence so as not to waste a scholarship. On average, the Longhorns sign around 20-23 players each year.

“They knew they wanted me but they had to come up with a scholarship. They had to decide if they wanted to use one on a kicker or save it for somebody else,” Jordan said.

Jordan, who is considered a national top-five kicker, took in the Texas campus at a visit Monday, where Applewhite told him to call head coach Mack Brown, who was away on vacation.

“I called, and they offered me the scholarship,” he said.

As a junior, Jordan converted eight of just nine field goal attempts, a small number for somebody with a blue-chip leg.

“My coaches don’t like to kick very much,” he said, laughing. “The last game of the season, in the quarterfinals, I kicked four field goals. So disregarding that game, I hardly had any attempts.”

The Texas coaches have told Jordan to “keep it up” and put in work in the weight room. His leg, though, is already plenty strong.

“The longest I’ve ever hit in practice was 70 yards, without a tee,” he said. “In a game, I’ve hit one from 43 yards out, but that’s the farthest attempt I’ve had. I feel like I could hit 60 with the wind.”

Texas usually uses one leg for both field goals and kickoff duties — though current kicker Justin Tucker punts, too. That works fine with Jordan.
“I actually prefer to kickoff, I feel like I can crush the ball,” he said.

This continues the pattern that Texas has developed. Every other year, the Longhorns have offered a scholarship to a kicker, starting with Hunter Lawrence in 2006 and continuing with Justin Tucker (2008) and William Russ (2010).

Texas picks up another commit for strong 2012 football class

Nick Jordan gave the Longhorns their 18th football commitment for the 2012 recruiting class Monday. The placekicker from Coppell High School spoke on the phone with Texas head coach Mack Brown and accepted the scholarship offer.

“It feels great,” Jordan said. “There’s been more support than I could have even imagined.”

Texas has developed a pattern of offering scholarships to kickers every other year, starting with Hunter Lawrence in 2006 and continuing with Justin Tucker and William Russ. Jordan, a top-ranked kicker, sees himself as a kickoff specialist.

“I feel like I can crush the ball,” he said.

-Trey Scott


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