FROM THE STANDS
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT UT SPORTS
WITH TREY McLEAN
A couple of things on my mind today, not concerning Texas football:
•Missouri to the SEC? Again, does the SEC think they are someone else? I’d do some follow up before having a press conference and make sure, because that’s going to be mighty embarrassing when they show up and realize it’s the Tigers in Columbia.
•The World Series starts Wednesday with the Rangers at the Cardinals. It shoudn’t be like this. The Cards had to win and get help to get to the post-season on the final day of the year and they get to host? This has nothing to do with what they did when they made the playoffs, which is pretty amazing, but the idea of the wild card team getting to host the World Series is ridiculous. What a team does for six months doesn’t earn them home field; instead home field is determined by a talent show of a game that a lot of players don’t even want to play in. Stupid rule, Bud Selig, and I’m glad the team YOUR FAMILY OWNS didn’t get to benefit from it.
•We need the Lions and the 49ers to play every year. I want to see Harbough vs. Schwartz, The Reckoning.
•Jordan Etier has been dismissed from the Texas baseball team after losing his mind on Saturday. Hopefully, he can make amends and be back this spring.
•Steve needs to leave his wife. Steve, of course, is the guy in the AT&T commercial who tells his wife in the greenhouse that he got his family unlimited whatever and she says “When did you do that, Steve? Shouldn’t you talk to your wife about that… My mother was right, I should have married John Clark.” Don’t put up with her (or her mother) anymore, Steve. You deserve better, Steve, and you can do better than her. You too, SEC.
On to football…
No. 7 OK. STATE 38 No. 21 TEXAS 26
There were parts of this game while it was happening that were more frustrating than last week. Yep, that’s what I said. Texas was smacked around by ou, but one of the few benefits of a loss like that is there are very few, if any, “what if” moments where you look back and wonder what might have happened if it goes the other way. There are so many “what if” moments I can’t count them all from the Oklahoma State game:
•What if the linebackers had guessed right, or not guessed at all, and been in the right position on BOTH Oklahoma State touchdowns?
•What if any of the safeties were back there to help them out?
•What if Brandon Weeden doesn’t drift out of bounds in the end zone on the safety? It’s a Texas touchdown.
•What if Quandre Diggs’ interception in the first half wasn’t overturned?
•What if the reviewing official could see and realize he did intercept it?
•What if Texas scores on that fourth down where Fozzy Whittaker fell down at the goal line and the safety never happened?
•What if Texas kicked field goals on both of those failed fourth down attempts? It’s 38-30 and the Horns have the ball at the end with a chance for overtime.
•What if Texas hangs on to any those interceptions?
•What if David Ash tucks it and runs on that interception?
•What if Texas runs the ball rather than passes after the safety?
That’s just the ones off the top of my head, I’m sure there are more. The inexperience at quarterback and left tackle showed through Saturday and the result was a 12-point loss, the second consecutive loss and the first one the week after the ou game in Mack Brown’s 14 years at Texas. The Horns are 4-2 and unranked. Guess what? I’m totally fine with all of it.
There is no such thing as a moral victory (am I right, Ags?) and I am by no means full of sunshine and muffin baskets for everyone this week. It isn’t 1993 and the Texas Longhorns are not a team that gets the “we played hard” praise because they didn’t lose by as much as they did the week before; however, I saw the future of Texas Longhorn football on display Saturday against a seasoned, veteran top-10 team and they almost did enough to get Texas a big win. Almost.
I’ve said repeatedly that I’m OK with a loss as long as something is learned from it, and I think Texas learned a lot this week from the Oklahoma State game: They learned who will be playing going forward, they learned they can hang with the best in the league, and they learned they can put away a bad loss and move forward.
Now let’s take this and move forward. Here is what I saw on Saturday.
Quarterbacks: CAsh is no more. The band broke up and now Ash is a solo act. The Horns decided during the week to go exclusively with David Ash at quarterback and as long as they are sure he’s the guy going forward, that’s a good call. When the staff didn’t know who they wanted at qb, the two-quarterback system worked, but in the last week Texas has decided he’s the best option with the arm strength, feet and overall athletic ability that can pressure defenses the most. And, once that decision was made, he absolutely needed to get all the reps. He did get all the reps, and there were times when he looked like a freshman in his first start, making some bad reads and holding onto the ball too long. On the day he finished with 139 yards passing and two interceptions, going 22-40, and he added 62 yards on the ground, which drop to 21 when sack yards are deducted.
The bottom line is Ash didn’t play well enough to win the game on Saturday; but that’s okay, you have to start somewhere. Ash is going to struggle as he learns, but he’s also going to make some plays and learn from his mistakes. Teaching points this week, Mr. Ash:
1.After three seconds, you have to go when throwing the ball. You can’t ask your linemen to keep you clean for five to eight seconds. After three, get moving and make the defense react to you. Move out of the pocket, find a receiver downfield or get some yards running. I saw it a few times, but not nearly enough.
2.Incompletions are okay. Throw it away if you need to and let’s line up for another play. You can’t throw over the middle into coverage (first quarter interception).
3.Keep the attitude and keep working. You will get more comfortable and everything will slow down, so keep at it.
I don’t know what’s going on with Case McCoy. I’ve heard some things, but nothing I’m willing to commit to publicly yet. Whether you agree with it or not, it seems Texas has their starting quarterback going forward. Keep your head up, Ash, you’re doing fine.
Running Backs: Now you see why I call him “The Franchise.” The whole country was introduced to true freshman Malcolm Brown this week as he rushed for 135 yards and two scores on 19 carries .He showed the speed, power, stamina and elusiveness that would warrant such a nickname. Fozzy Whittaker wasn’t as explosive in the Wildcat as he has been, rushing nine times for 36 yards with no scores, but DJ Monroe played more, getting outside for 33 yards on just four carries. It was an excellent day from the running backs, which combined to rush for 204 yards and two scores on 32 carries. It was the kind of day you should expect from these guys in the future and, frankly, I’m a bit surprised Texas didn’t feed Brown & Co another 15 times to take advantage of the OSU defense; but they didn’t ask me what they should do.
A great day from the backs, I just wish we would have seen more of them.
Wide Outs/Tight Ends: Props to you, Mike Davis. I was very critical of your fumble last week and you shut me right up with a team-high 10 catches for an also-team-high 80 yards. He found ways to get open and did a great job helping his quarterback by running to him when he scrambled. Oklahoma State’s game plan was to take Shipley away, which they did well (three catches, 22 yards) and Davis stepped up.
I saw Darius White! With my own eyes! He has one catch for a first down, going for seven yards. Still, I saw him!
I saw more guys getting reps at wide out, which is a good thing. It’s still legal to throw passes to the tight end, right? That wasn’t just a California thing, was it?
Offensive Line: Welcome to the very, very deep end of the pool, Josh Cochran. The true freshman got his first career start at left tackle against the No.7 team in the country. He did well — watch Malcolm Brown’s third quarter touchdown run. Brown hits the sideline after taking the Statue of Liberty hand off from Ash and sprints to the end zone, given the space to do so by Cochran downfield tying up two defenders and clearing the way. He struggled in pass protection at times, but that’s going to happen. Learn and move forward and that’s exactly what Josh Cochran did. Well done. They gave up five sacks, but I was happy with their efforts. The line paved the way for 231 yards rushing and nearly 40 minutes of possession. They can be better, particularly in pass protection, but the more experience Ash gets will make them better because he’ll know what do with the ball. Moving forward with the young guys makes me happy and that’s what Texas is doing up front.
Defensive Line: I was also critical of the defensive ends last week and they responded, playing much better this week. Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor combined for nine tackles including three for loss with a sack, an additional pressure and a batted down pass. Sure, there could have been more pressure, but from where they were last week to this week it was much improved. I didn’t see much to talk about inside from the tackles, but I think they (and the ends) did a nice job defending the run.
It could have been better, but it wasn’t bad. Still need more pressure.
Linebackers: This is the second week in a row this unit has been out of position and it cost Texas a long touchdown run. Overall it was solid, but nothing game changing like the lb’s for Oklahoma State. There is too much talent and experience from this unit to be making the same mistakes week to week. The Horns are stacked with talent at linebacker and I think they should explore the possibility of getting these young guys more reps.
Secondary: You can see this unit growing up before your eyes, can’t you? After getting abused by Landry Jones and Ryan Broyles last week, they stepped up their play this week against the best wide out in the nation. Justin Blackmon was held to just 74 yards on seven catches and a score, his second lowest yardage total of the year. Cornerbacks Quandre Diggs and Carrington Byndom more than held their own against Weeden & Co., holding them to 218 yards passing and just one touchdown. They are learning and growing and moving forward and are well on their way to being lock down cornerbacks.
You guys have to hang on to the football when you get your hands on it, though. Saturday was like watching the 2008 “oven mitts on our hands” Texas secondary. Nonetheless, the secondary did their job well enough to keep the potent Oklahoma State passing game in check. Texas needs more help from the safeties, though, in run support. If the lb’s can’t get them down, the safeties have to.
Special Teams: Another week, another touchdown on specials. Fozzy Whittaker took a kickoff back 100 yards for a touchdown (his second 100-yard kick return for a score in two weeks); unfortunately it was the kickoff after Oklahoma State ran back the opening kickoff of the second half for a touchdown. Texas also got the ball after an OSU player ran into a rolling punt, setting Texas up for the game-tying touchdown in the first quarter. The Texas special teams were very good, setting up a score and getting a score, but the return allowed was devastating and a tackle on that play changes the game completely.
In Conclusion …
You can’t turn the ball over four times and win and Texas did: a first quarter interception, a fourth quarter Ash fumble and two turnovers-on-downs. (I’m not counting the last pick with less than a minute to play as a real turnover.) The problem is when you’re starting a true freshman quarterback, in his first career start; you are going to have things like that happen. And it isn’t like he’s surrounded by upperclassmen talent like Colt McCoy was as a freshman. He has a true freshman running back, a true freshman wide receiver, a true freshman left tackle and a redshirt freshman center. Oh yeah, he also has three sophomores out there with him. And look at all the youth in the secondary and who they have faced this year. Texas has some issues to work on — you can’t turn the ball over regardless of age; you have to get pressure on the quarterback; you have to play the run better EVERY down; you have to protect the quarterback; you have to make more big plays on offense and defense — and they now have a week at the mid-season point to do that. If Texas had that effort in Dallas two weeks ago, they win this game against Oklahoma State. I think you’ll see marked improvement from everyone when Texas takes the field on 10/29 against Kansas in all these areas. Keep working, boys. Keep grinding and keep getting better.
I’ll say this to the rest of the Big 12: get your licks in now. Credit to ou and OSU for making Texas pay for their youth, and I suggest the rest of you follow suit, because this youth will soon be youth no more and then it’s ON, and just maybe some of that youth has grown up already.
LAST WEEK IN THE BIG 12
No. 24 BAYLOR 28 No.23 TEXAS A&M 55
Yay, Aggies! Whoop! SEC! Whoop! Back in the National Title hunt! Whoop! SEC! Boo Texas! We showed you! SEC! Whoop! Gig’em! Welcome Missouri! Revenue Sharing! Whoop! National prestige! Aggies! SEC Champs! Recruiting boon! Aggies! Atlanta! Whoop! CBS!
IOWA STATE 17 MISSOURI 52
I think Iowa State comes in and upsets them, sending the Pinkels to 0-3 in Big 12 play. Oops. Did I overvalue Iowa State or undervalue Mizzou? Probably both. Missouri qb Jimmy Franklin had five td’s in the romp and the Field House was a rocking place Saturday night as everyone’s attention turned to the Cardinals/Brewers game on Sunday.
No. 18 KANSAS STATE 41 TEXAS TECH 34
I think K-State has some mojo and wins this game on the road.
This one I did get right. K-State picked off Tech three times, ran a kickoff back for a touchdown and had their own qb rush for 110 yards and three scores. Again, not sure how they are doing this, but they are. Bill Snyder has to be the Coach of the Year in the Big 12 so far.
No. 1 oklahoma 47 KANSAS 17
You know what’s awesome? Barbecue grilled cheese. You get some chopped beef from your bbq spot of choice and spread a layer of it on a grilled cheese as you are making it. It’s the best thing ever. EVER.
THIS WEEK IN THE BIG 12
BAYLOR (4-2/1-2) IDLE
No. 12 KANSAS STATE (6-0/3-0) @ KANSAS (2-4/0-3) 11 am FSN
One of these days K-State is going to come back down to earth. It won’t be this week. Kansas is terrible and K-State is going to hammer the Jayhawks.
No.17 TEXAS A&M (4-2/2-1) @ IOWA STATE (3-3/0-3) 2:30 pm ABC
THIS is the TV game? Really? You’d be better off showing Footloose. Not the new one, but the old one. Dennis Quaid and Andie McDowell are the parents this time? Hmm. Not sure what I think about that. Oh … I DON’T CARE. Still, it will be more interesting than this game. Ags whip Cyclones and do it quickly.
No. 6 OKLAHOMA STATE (6-0/3-0) @ MISSOURI (4-2/1-2) 11 am F/X
Super upset letdown alert for Oklahoma State. This is about the time they typically drop one they should not and another road trip could be the place. I think it will be. I think Mizzou plays their game of the year and upsets OSU in a shootout.
TEXAS TECH (4-2/1-2) @ No.1 oklahoma (6-0/3-0) 7 pm ABC
I usually like Rudy’s on my barbecue grilled cheese, but feel free to use your own chopped beef. And it has to be chopped beef, because if you use brisket it’s a just a sandwich. The chopped beef allows you to keep it a grilled cheese. It’s awesome.