From the Stands
Trey McLean (Always … my favorite author)
|TEXAS VS. OKLAHOMA STATE|
|That was a new kind of awful this season.
Last week Texas was flat and uninterested in being there in the loss to K-State. In games against Iowa State and UCLA, mistakes from the offense and special teams put the defense in terrible situations. In the loss to ou, it was the defense and special teams that made mistakes. Against Baylor, a few plays here and there and things go differently. That was not the case against Oklahoma State.
I saw energy, passion, some creative play calling and a crowd ready for a big win. The problem this week was the opponent was just better. In every possible way. Texas couldn’t cover anyone, couldn’t tackle anyone, couldn’t get any pressure on the quarterback, couldn’t bust a big run, couldn’t make an ESPN highlight reel catch or throw and couldn’t break anything on special teams. In short, Texas brought the right attitude and right effort but got their heads caved in by a better team.
I think this loss might bother me more. The other four you could point to a certain play or two and say, “if this goes differently then …” but not Saturday. The better team won and did so convincingly, sending Texas to 4-6 and further down the stairs to the Big 12 basement. Now the Horns need to win the last two to get bowl eligible. Can they do that? Of course they can. Will they? Let’s find out.
First the Oklahoma State post-mortem.
OKLAHOMA STATE 33 TEXAS 16
Oklahoma State has the inside track to winning their first ever Big 12 South Title. They are a complete team and they have an offense that can really light it up. The defense might have some issues to address, but that o can cover up a lot of mistakes. Good luck, Pokes, I’ll be rooting for you. Here’s what I saw on Saturday night:
Offensive Line: With a freshman starting his first game and another starting his second, the line did a pretty good job Saturday night. Paden Kelly had two false starts, but I’ll give a guy starting his first ever game in his second year of college a pass on that. 358 yards of total offense, 3.8 yards per carry and two sacks allowed. Considering the youth playing Saturday night I don’t have a lot to be upset with.
Maybe I’m settling. No, with three freshmen starting, I thought they did okay.
Running Backs: Another day, another running back hurt. Fozzy Whittaker appeared to re-stinger his stinger and was out for the game. Cody Johnson looked energetic and strong in replacing him, rushing for 68 yards and a score on 16 carries and catching two passes for 14 yards. Of course, most of that came in the second half.
And yet another game and the running backs couldn’t find a hole or crease or make a play to turn the tide. I said the o-line didn’t play bad, but they certainly didn’t pave the way for the backs to run the ball and let Texas control the clock and the backs didn’t do much with the space they did have when the game was still a game.
Where was DJ Mon… Never mind. Doesn’t matter.
Wide Out: A big blow came when Mike Davis fumbled the ball after a catch on Texas’ opening drive. It sure looked to me like he was down before the ball came out, but for some reason the officials declined to review it and it was Oklahoma State’s ball. Thanks for that, by the way. Davis had another good game, catching five balls for 70 yards and looking sharp, fumble not withstanding. Quietly James Kirkendoll is coming on, leading the team with 71 yards receiving on four catches. It should have been more, but another review overturned an obvious catch he had on 3rd & 11 about a ½ yard shy of the first down marker. They seemed to review it for the spot, but instead overturned the call completely, which was ridiculous. Thanks for that, too.
Again, the numbers look decent but this was a TERRIBLE pass defense that Texas couldn’t take advantage of and, when they did, it was only two of them. John Chiles? Chiles? Chiles? John Chiles? He must have been home sick with Ferris. I’m tired of saying that. There is too much talent on the field and far too much talent standing on the sidelines not to have some combination of guys that can make plays.
Quarterback: I don’t know why Garrett Gilbert is so unwilling to run the ball, because when he does he is a great offensive weapon. It seemed to finally click in the third quarter that if the defense is going to give you 20 yards on the ground, TAKE IT. He was better this week than last, but there were just too many times when I saw him throw deep into coverage and not give his receiver a chance to catch the ball. I don’t know if it was him or if it was the wide out, but the deep ball just doesn’t really come off as threatening to me.
I thought he made much better decisions Saturday night, but 19-32 isn’t going to beat too many people.
Why isn’t that bootleg with a back dragging underneath the staple of this offense?
The effort and the toughness were there and I saw flashes of the big play ability. He just needs good things to happen to get some confidence right now.
Defensive Line: And he sure as heck wasn’t getting anything good from anyone on the defense. You will see this throughout the defensive reviews: 532 yards of total offense and 33 points. The defensive line allowed Kendall Hunter to rush for two scores and 116 yards and got to quarterback Brandon Weeden only once on the night.
Where is Eddie Jones? What did he do?
Linebacker: 532 yards of total offense and 33 points.
Secondary: I said in the Oklahoma State preview that Justin Blackmon would make some plays matched up with Aaron Williams. He did. Leading 9-3 in the second quarter Blackmon caught an absolutely perfect pass from Brandon Weeden and out-muscled Willliams to go 67 yards for a touchdown. It was a killer and sucked all the energy out the stadium and the team seemed totally deflated after that.
The secondary seemed so worried about getting beat deep that they just let the OSU wide outs run free and catch the ball. And yet they still got beat deep.
Of the 532 yards of total offense, 409 come via the air.
Special Teams: Texas needed something great from the specials to start the game. What they got was a kick out of bounds and OSU starting at the 40. Awful.
Adrian Phillips seems terrified to return a punt. It’s like he was telling the referee when he walks out there that he’s going to fair catch it before it was kicked.
Blocked extra point notwithstanding, there was nothing from the specials that was special.
Now he’s not even out there returning kicks anymore.
Florida Atlantic Owls (4-5/3-3) @ TEXAS (4-6/2-5)
I’m changing this up some this week. Florida Atlantic University is 4-5 and winners of three straight. They come from the Sun Belt Conference and have a big-time, brand name coach in Howard Schnellenberger. You remember him and his “sooner nation” stuff from the early 90’s, yes? I’m sure.
They come from arguably the best football state in the nation in Florida and are located near the beach. This is a Division I school, meaning the guys on this team are Division I football players, which are the elite of college athletes. They get room, board and the athlete aura in Boca Raton, Florida and all the trappings that come with it. They are the fastest startup program to win a bowl game in college football history as their program played it’s first ever game in 2001 and won the New Orleans Bowl in 2007.
Why the Wiki entry on FAU? I want you see who Texas is playing and give them the respect that a Division I football team with two bowl games in the last three seasons deserves. They’ve earned it.
And what I’ll tell you now is that it doesn’t matter. We can talk all day about their offense, their defense and their special teams. I can tell you that they rank 112th in rush offense (102 ypg), 110th in total offense (300 ypg) and 109th in scoring offense. We can discuss the 2.67 sacks allowed per game (97th nationally) and the 17 turnovers they have committed, including fumbling the ball 21 times and losing nine. I could explain to you how their defense is statistically bad, but so far this year that doesn’t matter. Texas has played bad defenses before and it didn’t/couldn’t/wouldn’t take advantage, and FAU is 98th in rush defense and 53rd in scoring defense. I could follow up with their atrocious special teams and their 38-yards-per-punt average and 104th best kickoff return team. But I won’t.
Because it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter because Texas cannot lose this game.
Now understand that I am not saying Florida Atlantic University is unable or will not win this game. What I am saying is the Texas Longhorns absolutely and positively cannot lose this game. It is not an option to consider FAU coming to town and winning. The Owls will not be intimidated coming to Austin and that would be the case if Texas was ranked No.1 and undefeated with 10 shutouts. Every team and every player on every team playing Division I football thinks they can and will beat the other Division I football teams if they play well. That doesn’t mean it will happen. Ask Indiana how they felt going to Wisconsin last week and I’m sure you’d hear them say to a man they thought they’d win. (They lost 83-20.) Confidence does not always mean success, and I don’t care how confident the Florida Atlantic University Owls are this weekend because it cannot matter. They don’t really do much well and it shouldn’t matter if they did because Texas cannot lose this game.
This program cannot lose to that program at home. That probably sounds elitist and unbelievably arrogant, but it is true.
The defense was beat up and shoved in a locker last weekend. That cannot happen this week. This isn’t the high-flying Oklahoma State offense or the ou offense with multiple darkhorse Heisman candidates. There is no Robert Griffin on this team. Texas needs a fast and positive start to be successful and the defense can do their part to ensure that by playing assignment football, shutting down the run and forcing FAU into 3rd & long situations. They don’t run the ball well, they don’t throw the ball well and they don’t score many points. If isn’t going to get fixed this week then when will it?
Pull your weight, because right now other than Justin Tucker this unit is a mediocre anchor pulling the team down to the bottom of that ocean floor.
It cannot happen this week.
I’ve heard that at times when things go badly Mack Brown can be a bit doom and gloom and scare his team into bad situations. He might have done that after Iowa State and even said as much this week. Well now they should be scared. All of them, from the staff to the trainers. The Horns have backed themselves into a must-win situation to stay alive for a bowl game by losing four straight at home, which is the most consecutive home losses since 1956. During that streak they have lost to teams they usually mop the floor with and two of the four losses were blowouts. A loss to FAU would make Texas 4-7, making it the most losses since 1997. With that loss and the high-flying Aggies only five days away, there would be a very real chance the Texas Longhorns go 4-8, making it the most losses for a Texas football team in 54 years.
That isn’t going to happen because it cannot happen. IT CANNOT HAPPEN. Call it doom and gloom, call it a threat, whatever label you think applies, the bottom line is Florida Atlantic cannot come to the DKR on Saturday and beat Texas.
Pick up this chip and put it on your shoulder, guys, and let’s end this losing streak and move on to the Aggie game.
IOWA STATE 14 COLORADO 34
KANSAS 3 NEBRASKA 20
MISSOURI 38 KANSAS STATE 28
TEXAS TECH 7 oklahoma 45
This Week in the Big 12
KANSAS STATE (6-4/3-4) @ COLORADO (4-6/1-5) 1 pm
No. 10 OKLAHOMA STATE (9-1/5-1) @ KANSAS (3-7/1-5) 11 am FSN
No. 16 MISSOURI (8-2/4-2) @ IOWA STATE (5-6/3-4) 6 pm FSN
No. 9 NEBRASKA (9-1/5-1) @ No. 19 TEXAS A&M (7-3/4-2) 7 pm ESPN
Weber State (I-AA school) @ TEXAS TECH (5-5/3-5) 2pm