Five thoughts following Texas’ 21-17 win over Kansas.
1. It’s a win. We would be silly underestimate the virtue of getting a win when Texas really needed it, regardless of competition. With that said, if West Virginia exposed to some defensive issues for Texas and Oklahoma exposed team-wide issues for the Longhorns, then Kansas showed all of Texas the reality of what could happen over the next four games.
This is another harsh truth to facing the 2012 Longhorns. Preseason expectations are gone out of the window. Post-Oklahoma State exuberance has fizzled out as well. My father always told me that we have to get rid of hope and expectations and deal with what is. What are the Texas Longhorns? They are a team with some talented players, a high paid coaching staff and a level of play that is not reflective of their talent or the cost of their coaching staff.
It’s almost shameful to feel so down about a team that is ranked and whose losses came to two ranked opponents. On the surface, this is a team that could finish 10-2. I would not bet a mayonnaise sandwich that they would, but that has to be the message from Mack Brown and his staff.
I think I have a pretty good feel for what this team is and the feeling isn’t good.
2. Is David Ash the quarterback? For everything that Ash has been over the course of the season, it was all gone against Kansas. It could be argued that had he not been taken out Saturday, Texas might lost.
Case McCoy came right in the game and led the Longhorns on a seven-play touchdown drive. It was all running but McCoy led the drive. Coincidentally, it also coincided with the offensive staff getting the ball on the edge to D.J. Monroe and Marquise Goodwin. But on the game winning drive, McCoy hit three big passes including an 18-yard pass to Jaxon Shipley on 4th down.
Does that one drive mean that Ash should be replaced as the starter? I don't think so but his margin for error probably got a lot smaller. Brown has constantly said he wanted two QBs ready, and Saturday showed why.
Really, all we can guess at this point is that Ash will trot out as the starter next week in Lubbock.
3. Time to simplify. When a team is not good or not playing up to potential, it can be fatal to make things more complex in hopes of a better result. The Texas defense is too complex and the Texas offense needs to go to what has proven to work earlier in games.
The Texas defense is thinking way too much. On the 15-yard touchdown run that tied the game at 7, the defense looked like a fire drill before the play with the front seven moving all over the place. The running back ended up not being touched until Cedric Reed jumped on his back and rode him into the end zone. Maybe it is time for Texas to stick to a base defense and play it really well. It might also be time for them to find a few good schemes they do well instead of complex schemes that keep failing.
The Texas offense three quarters to figure out that it could get the ball on the edge to players that were clearly faster than anyone Kansas had. This isn’t the first time, Texas has struggling getting the ball to their playmakers.
Clearly the offense is ahead of the defense, but a meager 21 points against a Kansas defense that is 85th national in points allowed is not a vote of confidence.
Everything needs to be stripped down and redone while keeping it simple and executable.
4. Bowl eligibility. Texas is 6-2 and bowl eligible, but Texas’ success never based on just going to a bowl game. While the Longhorns could finish 10-2, they also could finish 6-6, which would be a huge failure.
Playing in Lubbock is never easy and the Red Raiders will be mad having taken a good whipping from Kansas State. With Texas Tech finally having a defense and to match its offense, the will be a nasty game next Saturday on the South Plains.
Iowa State, a team that beat Texas in Austin two years ago, will be tough despite its record; TCU is one the most well-coached teams in the Big 12 and Kansas State is No. 3 in the BCS with the Heisman frontrunner at QB.
That all means that the rest of the schedule could go either way and will have huge implications on who is coaching Texas in 2013.
5. What expectations? It is amazing how the expectations of a team can shift over time. This team needs a paradigm shift. After seeing some of the best teams in Texas’ history, along with some of its best players, it’s hard to look at this current version. There were Longhorns players “making it rain” after Saturday’s game. There are very few teams of the Mack Brown era at Texas that would have been so satisfied with such a terrible win.