The Longhorns’ stat sheet after every game has been misleading when it comes to red zone conversions this year. For example, last weekend against Baylor, Texas was 4 of 4 in the red zone, but that’s because kicker Justin Tucker made four field goals, not because the offense scored touchdowns.
Head coach Mack Brown said at this time last year, the team was 24 of 38 in the red zone and this year they are 15 of 36. The Longhorns are driving downfield and getting into scoring position, they just aren’t finishing with touchdowns.
“The lack of production in the red zone has been unbelievable,” Brown said. “That percentage is killing us.”
Brown told offensive coordinator Greg Davis that they need to be more aggressive if they want to score more points, and one way to do that is to have quarterback Garrett Gilbert run more.
“I told Greg to go back and turn it loose,” Brown said. “We gotta score and we gotta take more chances.”
For the past few weeks, punt returners Aaron Williams and Curtis Brown have muffed quite a few punts. But when asked if he’ll make a change, Brown has been adamant that those two players are the best the team has and they’ll continue to play that role.
After Brown dropped two punts against Baylor inside the 20-yard-line, Mack Brown said this week they would try out new players.
“Punt block/return has been the best in the country for us for years, and it has been a real struggle to say the least,” Brown said.
Curtis Brown is ranked 13th in the country in punt returns and has averaged 14.9 yards per return this season. However, he’s really struggled in that position. Brown said that defensive backs Christian Scott and Adrian Phillips and receiver Mike Davis will get a shot at returning this week.
<strong>Out for the season</strong>
Senior Michael Huey has likely played his final snap as a Longhorn. The starting left guard is out 4-6 weeks with a right knee injury that he suffered in the first half of the Baylor game last Saturday.
The timetable, however, is really code for out for the season as team trainer Kenny Boyd told Brown that Huey will not be healthy in time for Texas A&M, the last game of the regular season. It is unknown at this point if Huey would be healthy enough to play in a potential postseason game. Huey is now the third offensive lineman to go down with an injury this season. The first was right guard Tray Allen, who broke a bone in his left foot in the spring and re-aggravated it during fall camp, and the second was backup left tackle Luke Poehlmann, who tore his ACL against Wyoming.
“It’s a huge blow that we’ve lost another starting offensive lineman,” Brown said. “Especially since Michael Huey has been playing great.”
Huey has been the most consistent, hard-working offensive lineman for the Longhorns all season and the coaches have raved about his progression and leadership on the field.
The new starting left guard will be Trey Hopkins. Davis says he has a lot of confidence in the true freshman that Rivals.com ranked as the No. 1 offensive lineman in the 2010 recruiting class.
“Trey is extremely athletic,” Davis said. “He’s got a great wingspan, is very bright and has never complained. He’ll get better and better as he works out in the weight room and gets more snaps.”