This isn't going to be much fun...
Quarterback It's tough to grade out Colt on Saturday's game, for a number of reasons. First, he's had just an unbelievable season for us. He's exceeded even the most optimistic of projections and delivered a monster first season to this team. Second, he was carted off the field on a stretcher. (The Texas athletics site reports that McCoy suffered a pinched nerve and is expected to recover fully.) Third, he appeared to be playing injured from the get-go yesterday.
It's that last point that gets at the heart of the matter. Other than the first drive, in which McCoy completed 5-of-5 for 66 yards, he appeared to be very uncomfortable on all his throws. McCoy would complete just 12 of his next 23 passes, throwing three interceptions in the process. What was most mystifying was the manner of the interceptions - they simply weren't the kinds of throws that Colt McCoy makes. He was throwing off his back foot, not stepping into his throws, and pushing the ball - rather than throwing it. In short: he looked injured.
I don't know if that pinched nerve became more bothersome as the game went on, or if it was bad from the very beginning, but it was clear that something was wrong. This isn't a case of Sunday Morning Quarterbacking, either. At halftime, I wrote, "Colt doesn't look totally comfortable yet. Not sure if it's rust or if he's still hurting a bit."
After watching the second half, it was clear that it was the latter. All three interceptions, I think, can be directly attributed to his injury. And that brings up an interesting question about the coaching, which we'll address later: how much did the coaches know about Colt's injury, and did they make a mistake by playing Colt Saturday? I'm not sure we're going to ever get enough information to answer that question with complete certainty, but I feel pretty comfortable saying - just based on observation - that a mistake was made. Something was wrong with Colt McCoy yesterday - even before the two nasty blows in the 4th quarter that finally knocked him out of the game. The coaches have a lot of explaining to do, though I suspect we won't get any.
For Colt, what a tough way to end his first regular season. His overall grade for the season is going to be a marvelous one, but for Saturday, it was a bad day. If he was hurt, he should have spoken up. Grade: D.
Running Backs 25 carries. 90 yards. At the University of Texas. In a game in which our quarterback was clearly well off his game, if not outright playing injured.
The running game clearly gets an F. The question is how much blame to place on the tailbacks? In other words, was it a problem of scheme or a problem of execution? It was a bit of both, actually, and let's start with the execution.
Henry Melton: F-
I don't want to ever see Henry Melton carry the football again.
If you have tape of the game, watch the 4th and 1 run to Melton. We all know that he didn't make it, but what you'll notice if you watch the replay is that Melton had a clear path to the first down, if not end zone, had he run straight ahead. But no... as only Henry can do, he bounced to the outside, right into trouble, and was dropped for a loss. Unbelievably awful run. The blocks in the middle were there. He just blew it. No two ways about it. No. More. Henry. Melton.
As for Charles and Young, they were only mildly effective. Once more, though, they were often stuck in neutral as the defense came bearing down on them. Yesterday's problem was one of scheme, not execution. The tailbacks had little room to run, unfortunately. Greg Davis did make some adjustments in the second half, with better results, but it still wasn't enough. Davis put Colt under center more often in the second half, but without a credible passing threat (because of Colt's injury), the Texas running game was only average. Texas needed to establish a power running game yesterday. I'm not sure you can credibly say that this group of athletes isn't capable of running that way, but they've not done it this year. It's one of the tradeoffs of the offensive system Davis has used this year. That system, effective when Colt was healthy and on his game, failed miserably when the passing game wasn't able to be the primary focus. Grade: F
Receivers There's not much blame for the receivers here. They didn't drop passes, they got open down the field, and they blocked well. Colt just couldn't find them down the field. There's nothing else to say, unfortunately. Grade: Incomplete
Offensive Line Adam Ulatoski's going to be a good tackle. I really think so. But my goodness he's had a shaky second half of this season. He was a problem once again Saturday, both with blocking and with his devastating false start penalty on Texas' opening drive. Facing 2nd down and 3 to go from the Aggie 10, Ulatoski flinched and the rest is history.
The line was otherwise decent, but they hardly dominated the Aggies like they needed to. The fact of the matter is that this line excelled as a blocking unit for the Vince Young offense. They've done a good job this season pass blocking for Colt McCoy. But the tradeoff has been that they don't do very well in power run blocking. Once again, it's probably not a matter of them being incapable of it. It's just a matter of scheme and tendency. And that was a big problem for Texas yesterday when it became clear Colt couldn't get the ball down the field. Grade: D
Offensive Coaching Folks that want Greg Davis fired are going too far. The expectations some Texas fans have are simply stratospheric. And unrealistic. And unfair. No one praises Davis for all the wonderful things he does. They just wait for the bad games and go bananas.
We won't do that here. We like Greg Davis on the whole. So let's get that on the official record.
With that said, we'll be the first to concede that Davis laid an egg yesterday. A truly awful, terrible, rotten smelly egg. Just his worst game since the 2004 Red River Shootout. It's debatable whether McCoy should have been playing at all, but it's unquestionable that he was bordering on "totally ineffective" very early on this game. Certainly before halftime. And it's incumbent on Greg Davis, Quarterbacks Coach, to pick up on that. And it's incumbent on Greg Davis, Offensive Coordinator, to adjust accordingly.
And he, and Texas, didn't. There was some attempt in the second half to use more running, but when Texas should have been taking a play out of Texas A&M's playbook and running on virtually every down, Davis still tried (in vain) to maintain some semblance of balance. And that's one of the two biggest reasons why we lost. Sorry, Greg - this week, you deserve most of the flak you're going to get. Grade: F
Next up: the defense.