We all feared Texas would wake up Saturday morning sluggish and play a bad gameâ€¦ That fear turned into reality last Saturday in Lawrence, Kansas. The Longhorns escape Kansas with a win but it was an ugly one to say the least.
These are in no particular order.
1. The Worst Win: Even though Texas squeaked out a win there is still a lot of negative talk from the game. How weird is that? A win creates negative buzz around a program. But in my opinion itâ€™s really not weird at all. In fact, I wouldnâ€™t expect anything less and nor should you. Texas is one of the best, if not the best, coaching jobs in the nation. Texas is expected to have one of the best football programs in the nation as well. And when expectations arenâ€™t met then naturally negative buzz will surround the program. I have no problem with negative buzz if itâ€™s reasonable and realistic in meaning. I try to avoid letting emotions speak for me (though it happens to all of us at times) right after games have ended. But itâ€™s now almost 3 days after the game has ended and I still am not happy about this win. Donâ€™t get me wrong, Iâ€™m relieved Texas won. But itâ€™s the way the team won and what they had to do to get the win. This game was against the absolute worst team in the Big 12 and Texas needed a McCoy to save the day once again on the last drive of the game. The Longhorns should never have been anywhere close to that situation in Lawrence. But realistically that is where the program is now. Which is why there is so much negative buzz surrounding the program.
Iâ€™m finding more irony in this season than in seasons past. I donâ€™t think thatâ€™s a good thingâ€¦ But in a season where Texas had arguably their worse loss ever that anyone can remember (against OU), the Longhorns may have also had their worst win ever against Kansas (fellow Hornsports contributor, Justin Wells said the later part first). Thatâ€™s deflating to take in and think about.
2. Is the QB controversy back?: Â Poor Caseâ€¦ Can you imagine what it must feel like for him? After being called upon to lift Texas past its rival to the East, Texas A&M, Case McCoy once again led Texas to another victory late in the game once Ash got benched. In half as many passing attempts that Ash had, McCoy threw for more yards, scored the only passing touchdown of the game, and avoided any turnovers. On the day, Case McCoy was 5/7 for 68 yards and 1 touchdown. In almost 3 Â½ quarters, David Ash was 8/16 for 63 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 2 ugly interceptions. So based on this game, is it fair to say the QB controversy is back? According to Mack, not just yet. David Ash is the starter for next weekâ€™s game in Lubbock. But McCoy could be called upon at any moment if Ash falls into a funk again.
If you ask me, I too think David Ash should still be the starter. Iâ€™ll admit that right before Case McCoy led the team to the game winning drive I tweeted something along the lines that read that Ash should still be in the game because McCoy doesnâ€™t add any throwing advantages over Ash. Well McCoy must have read my tweet because he marched the team down the field for the win. And Iâ€™m happy for him that he was successful. But Iâ€™m sticking by my tweet. Case McCoy does not have a better arm than Ash. And you canâ€™t argue that one bit. But what I failed to touch on was that Case McCoy is a McCoy. On the field he has some of the personality, mentality, and leadership that his older brother Colt exuberated during games. And in a tough situation towards the end of games Case has shown that he is mentally and emotionally capable of leading a team to a score in crunch time. But I donâ€™t think Case can make the variety of throws consistently and with enough strength needed to truly open up the playbook like Ash can. Ash bounced back well from the OU game with a solid performance against Baylor. It will be very interesting to see if he can bounce back again, but this time after being benched and having to watch his own competition take the team down for two game winning drives.
3. Running Game, Led By Gray: I hope everyone realizes what a luxury it is to have Jonathan Gray this season. Without Grayâ€™s 111 yards off his 18 carries Texas would have almost certainly lost this game. Gray ran with consistency and a strong determination each time he got the ball, which was very refreshing to watch. He continues to get better each and every game as he fills in for the injured Malcolm Brown. But having Gray is important for games that Joe Bergeron simply canâ€™t get it going, like this past Saturday. Though Bergeron rumbled into the end zone for the Longhornsâ€™ first touchdown, he was bottled up for most of the game. Running for just 32 yards on 7 carries, Joey B failed to have a run longer than 4 yards until his last run, which was 17 yards, with over 10 minutes left in the 4th quarter. And one of his rushing attempts was a failed 4th down conversion at the goal line that cost Texas another scoring drive (embarrassingâ€¦). Bergeron is simply a power back, and there will be games where he will dominate defenses and games where he will get bottled up. Heâ€™s a great weapon to have. But as we all saw last Saturday, there are some games that will call upon different running styles from other backs than what Bergeron has to offer.
4. Shipley/Davis: The two starting receivers both had solid games, and for the first time in a few weeks Jaxon Shipley was more involved in the offense and saw more passes come his way. Though neither scored a touchdown, the duo combined for 125 of the 131 receiving yards and caught 10 of the 13 receptions from the game. Shipley led in both receptions (6) and yards (66), while Mike Davis was second in receptions (4) and yards (59). But regardless of who had more yards or receptions both of these players ran solid routes, had nice receptions, and played well. I touched on this before the season started in my position preview, but I still think these two could be considered as 1A (Shipley) and 1B (Davis), as far as receiving options on the team. Despite the shaky QB play, they played well and had decent games with what they were given.
5. Offensive Playmakers: I still donâ€™t understand why D.J. Monroe, Marquis Goodwin, and Daje Johnson arenâ€™t getting the ball more. This trio combined for 4 touches ALL GAME, with Goodwin leading that category again with 2. And guess what, when Goodwin touched the ball on his only 2 rushing attempts he ripped off a 41 yard run and an 11 yard touchdown run. These three players are too fast and explosive to not get more touches. Also, I know it could be hard to do mid way through the season but Iâ€™d really wish Texas would give Goodwin a shot at getting carries lined up as running back in the backfield rather than only on reverses. Maybe heâ€™s gotten a shot at it in practice and it didnâ€™t work out, but he seems to see the field well when heâ€™s running. And as far as I can tell, heâ€™d add another dimension to the offense taking carries out of the backfield.
6. Texas Miscues & Team Comparisons: As bad as Texas played, Iâ€™m amazed they were able to win this game because Kansas also played a pretty good game. The Jayhawks were decent on 3rd downs, moving the chains 7 out of 15 attempts, and converting 1 of their 2 4th down attempts. They had 1 penalty all game, which was a 5-yard â€˜delay of gameâ€™ flag. They were able to win the turnover ratio, by losing 1 fumble to Texasâ€™ 2 interceptions, and controlled the clock a little over 5 minutes longer than the Longhorns did. Compare this to the Longhorns miserable 4-12 3rd conversion rate, their 1-2 4th down conversion rate (the failed conversion was a 1 yard loss at the goal line by Joe Bergeron), the 2 interceptions, and the Hornâ€™s 5 penalties for 65 yards and it really is amazing Texas was able to escape with a Win. Give credit to Kansas for hanging in there until the very end. But this was an embarrassing game for Texasâ€¦ and it was a winâ€¦
7. Another Game, Another Bad Performance: Iâ€™m almost getting tired of mentioning this after each week. But the Longhorns failed to stop the run, again. The Jayhawks leading rusher, James Sims, ran for the most yards (176) and his personal best average YPC (6.3) of the season this past Saturday. Thatâ€™s embarrassing. In total, the Jayhawks racked up 234 yards on the ground and scored 2 rushing touchdowns. The Texas defense is plain bad. Which is very disappointing. Coming into the season everyone was talking about all the talent on this side of the ball that was supposedly going to be the strength of the team. But week after week after week the defense continues to look lost and struggle to stop the ground game. Diaz has got to go.
8. Whatâ€™s Changed?: I would love to sit down and talk to Duane Akina. The defensive backs coach has been with Texas for 12 seasons and has been the position coach who has had countless defensive backs of his not only play well for UT, but go onto the NFL to give the school the name â€œDB Uâ€. Which is why Iâ€™d love to sit down and Ask Duane Akina a few questions. Questions like, â€œWhat is different about the defensive players this year compared to years when UT had one of the nations best defenses?â€ or â€œWhy have the defensive backs had so much trouble tackling and so much confusion in coverage?â€ or â€œWhat are your thoughts on Manny Diazâ€™s schemes compared to past defensive coordinators you have worked with?â€ or even, â€œDoes Manny Diaz focus on discipline and fundamentals as much as he should?â€ Iâ€™m sure there are countless questions you and I could think to ask Akina. Heâ€™s been the one guy who has been here under all of the recent defensive coordinators. He was even a coordinator for a year at Texas, though heâ€™s a much better secondary coachâ€¦ The secondary has had its problems this season but Iâ€™m not all convinced he is the one to blame. I still think Diazâ€™s schemes, coaching, and play calling are the main problem the defense is playing confused, inconsistent, and without discipline.
9. Bad Mentality: Iâ€™m sick of the way the team talks after games. Everyone on the team talks as if the poor game they played wasnâ€™t a big deal. They talk as if they know they can win the rest of the games this season like it isnâ€™t a big deal. Thereâ€™s a difference between being lackadaisical and ignorant, and being confident with a killer instinct when talking about winning games. Nick Saban and Will Muschamp are two examples of coaches who say they expect to win but say it with a realistic confidence and a killer instinct. They also arenâ€™t afraid to admit their weaknesses and where they need to improve. But the Texas players and coaches, led by Mack Brown, have this defensive, stubborn vibe to them this season that really rubs me the wrong way. Itâ€™s as if they have set the bar low for themselves and in their eyes are accomplishing just as much, if not more, than what they were expecting this season. And I think thatâ€™s one reason why so many people have been calling for Mackâ€™s job. The fact that he and the team have said â€œit is what it isâ€ and that they will figure out â€œwho their true friends areâ€ has left me, and many fans, confused and frustrated. Saying things like that translates to â€œwe know we arenâ€™t that good, but we accept that and are going keep being mediocre. So either support our mediocre play or hit the road.â€ There is something different about the way Coach Brown and the team talks to the media and fans this year. They have a weird, defensive, stubborn mentality that hasnâ€™t necessarily been there in the past. It seems that Mack feels more pressured than ever and if itâ€™s showing to us then you better believe itâ€™s showing to his coaches and players, and thatâ€™s not goodâ€¦
10. Josh Turner: Recovering a fumble, which was Kansasâ€™ only turnover of the game, Turner continued to make plays and shed light into the darkness that is the Texas secondary. He played well and actually made some decent tackles too. I like what I continue to see from him and hopefully he continues to play well despite how his teammates are playing around him.
Before the season started I thought that starting with this Kansas game Texas might have some relief as far as the strength of their schedule. But all of that thinking goes right out the window due to how the Longhorns are playing now. Each game will be a toss up and will depend on which Texas team shows up that day. Currently Texas is 6-2, which is a good record, but what is disappointing is the manner in which they are winning games. Many of these games shouldnâ€™t be as close as they are and shouldnâ€™t be as sloppy either. I still think a big change needs to be made to the coaching staff at the end of the season. But until then we can only hope to see different players step up and show why they were top recruits when they first came to the 40 Acres.