And now for the rest of the group...
Running Backs Might this be the last time we discuss Henry Melton in this space? It probably ought to be. Melton was given one last opportunity to Javorskie, and failed once more. First and goal from the five: Melton for three yards. 2nd and goal from the two: Melton for one yard. Third and goal from the one: Melton fumble. R.I.P., Henry. It's a shame, too, as he's a unique talent without the ability to leverage that big body properly. I suppose he'll get his shot at defensive end, but it's reasonably safe to say that, at least for this season, he's done as a tailback.
Elsewhere, I thought Jamaal Charles had a solid game. Oklahoma State spent their entire defensive capital on stopping the Texas run game and on smothering Limas Sweed. Despite their best efforts, Charles was able to provide some scamper for positive yardage on most plays, finishing with 67 yards on 21 carries.
I don't know if Selvin Young got hurt during the game, but he didn't have a rushing attempt after the second quarter. If he left with an injury, I missed it, but the running was entirely left to Charles after that.
Overall, it wasn't a great night rushing the ball for Texas, but it wasn't a bad one, either. The rushing game served a meaningful purpose last night: it kept the Texas offense on the field, it kept the Cowboy linebackers committed to the line of scrimmage, and it set up lots of delightful play action passes. This Longhorn offense isn't a dominant running team, but we proved last night that we're a committed running team, and that even when it's not enough to score on its own, it can serve a positive, complimentary role in the gameplan. That shouldn't be undervalued.
Remember, Texas fans: when Texas offenses have been dependent on the run, they've been susceptible to lame duck Saturdays. This season's offense has developed into a balanced, multi-dimensional threat. And lest we get too carried away in our desire to see Colt McCoy under center, there are potential tradeoffs in making too big a switch. McCoy's seeing the field and throwing the football awfully well from the shotgun. The Longhorns finished with 510 yards of total offense last night. If it ain't broke, right? Still, Grade: B-
Wide Receivers / Tight Ends I've been saying that the Jermichael Finley breakout might not come until next season, but with McCoy's rocket up the developmental learning curve, as well as Finley's own improvement and comfort-level, we're seeing the beginning of that breakout right now. Finley's 27 yard, third quarter touchdown grab was a thing of beauty, and a representative one in terms of what Finley's capable of. Finley's other grab for the game went for 40 yards, and over his last four games, he's now caught 11 footballs for 172 yards. That's excellent production from the tight end spot, and best yet, probably just the tip of the iceberg.
All the receivers had a great evening, really. Pittman, Cosby, Shipley, and Nate Jones all played great football. And though Limas was pretty much taken out of the gameplan by Oklahoma State, he dutifully ate up the defensive attention while his teammates ran wild catching passes.
For all the talk about young McCoy, we shouldn't be shy about praising the guys hauling in all these touchdown throws. Before the season began, we touted this group as the best in the Big 12, and they've been nothing short of that. With McCoy's development, the Texas passing game has to be considered one of the most potent in the entire country, and the depth and talent at receiver is as big a reason as the guy tossing the pigskins.
Another week, another easy Grade: A
Offensive Line As noted above, the running game never opened up the way one would hope, but the line had another solid day giving Colt McCoy time to find the open receivers. I'm a little bit at a loss why this particular offense hasn't been able to run the ball at a high level. Every other Texas team in the Mack Brown era has been an above average running team. Somehow, this group isn't.
I think it's fair to say that part of the problem is in scheme, but before GD haters go bananas complaining about it, let's remember that there are tradeoffs that come with making changes. Could Texas benefit from some more power running formations? Absolutely. Would it slow down the passing attack? Quite possibly.
Ideally, Davis will tinker with the scheme enough to get more quick-hitting, north-south running plays into the offense. Hopefully, that adjustment can be made without being at expense of our robust passing attack. The offensive linemen are doing fine, but there's room for the group to do more. Grade: B+
Offensive Coaching The haters in the herd will talk up the lack of a good running game, and there's merit to that complaint. But I'll emphasize once more that we need to be mindful that the offense, as a whole, is performing well. We'd also better remember that at the beginning of the season, when we were running many of the same running plays, we were gaining excellent yardage. So some of the dropoff may just be in execution.
Running game problems aside, the offense as a whole has to be graded out highly for last night's game. They ate up the clock and moved up and down the field with relative ease. Davis' work in developing McCoy has been nothing short of masterful, and 510 yards of offense is still 510 yards of offense.
If Texas -does- solve whatever's hidering the running game... well, look out. This will be one of the top two or three offenses in the entire country, instead of one of the top 10-15. Grade: B+