The Stat Guy: Comparing two 3-0 teams: Texas of 2011 vs. Texas of 2010

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Texas began last season 3-0 before losing seven of their last nine games. But this year’s Longhorns group is showing signs of improvement, thanks in part to players like cornerback Adrian Phillips.
Texas began last season 3-0 before losing seven of their last nine games. But this year’s Longhorns group is showing signs of improvement, thanks in part to players like cornerback Adrian Phillips.

It’s not an unusual occurrence for Texas to start the year 3-0, even if it is a rebuilding year. Division 1A schools, more often than not, schedule games that are almost guaranteed victories. Every few years you’ll have the occasional Ohio State or Arkansas in the mix, but for the most part, the first few matchups are solid warm-up games.

Last year, Texas began the year 3-0, with two victories coming on the road, including an early conference game against Texas Tech. While the Longhorns didn’t impress fans statistically in any of their first three appearances, the fact that a victory was earned in Lubbock and that the team had yet to lose gave the fan base positive indications for the rest of the season. Seven losses and just two wins later, we learned the team’s good start was merely an illusion.

This year, Texas has once again started the year 3-0, but things so far look better than they did last year. Since the second half of the BYU game, Texas has looked like the Texas of old — circa 2009. No game has that been more evident than the Sept. 17 match against UCLA, where the Longhorns racked up 49 points on a veteran defense and picked off three passes in the first quarter.

Just how does this years squad compare (or differ) to the 2010 Longhorns? Let’s take a look at the stats.

This time last year, Texas had amassed 457 yards on the ground on 118 rushing attempts. That’s a 3.87 yards-per-carry average. This year, Texas has rushed the ball 141 times for 671 yards, averaging 4.82 yards an attempt. Keep in mind that last year Texas was trying to enforce the run game more than the pass, whereas this year all facets of the offense are being utilized.

After the third game last year, the Longhorns had converted 58 first downs, compared to this years’ squad picking up 59. That’s remarkably similar.

As far as defense goes, the Longhorns have seen a significant dip in their pass rushing ability. Last year, Texas had 10 sacks for 91 yards, much better than the two sacks for 12 yards the defense has picked up so far this year.

In 2010, Texas’ secondary had picked off opposing quarterbacks three times in the first three games last year. This season, Adrian Phillips and company have tallied five interceptions, including three in one quarter. The latter stat ranks Texas 21st in the nation in interceptions.

It’s no doubt that this year’s team has drawn more excitement. Whenever an entirely new offensive and defensive system is implemented, that’s bound to happen.

Texas is heading into October undefeated for the first time since 2009, which seems like an eternity to a Longhorn fan. In the next month, the team will face three opponents that beat it last season — Iowa State, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. So we’re about to see just how much better the 2011 Longhorns are.

Printed on September 27, 2011 as: Longhorns 3-0 yet again as they begin Big 12 play