I finally had a chance to sit down and watch the Baylor game and have a few assorted thoughts before we turn our attention to Kansas.
- Pushing the boulder uphill a second time is harder. And not just for the team--for the fans, too. I got two texts on Saturday calling the crowd "weak" and "pathetic," and an email from 54b likening the scene to attending a funeral that turned into a tax seminar. Given the heartbreak in Lubbock and 11 a.m. kick, it's understandable--if not quite excusable--but here's to hoping fans get it together for Thanksgiving against Aggie. Depending what happens in Norman this Saturday, how we perform in our finale may well play a significant role in settling a tiebreaker. Given what fans have come to expect from this team, the least they can do is show up and be rowdy.
- The return of four-wide. I noted several times last week that Texas' biggest mistake against Tech was the slow and steady post-OU retreat to vanilla offense. Greg Davis on Saturday got back to the more aggressive four-wide sets that helped Texas work Oklahoma's defense for four quarters. (Note, too, that this is what Texas Tech does, though in more extreme form.) Especially with Malcolm Williams' emergence as a legitimate deep threat, it's almost incomprehensible that Texas wouldn't operate from that formation more often than not. Consider:
- With Blaine Irby out, our tight ends are awful. Kudos to Greg Smith on the tap-in touchdown, but let's be real: these guys are slow, poor receivers, whose minimal contributions amount to pass protection. And even there, they're not very good. Be done with them, Greg.
- Texas' most lethal weapons are Shipley and Cosby working to find space against a defense spread too thin.
- Malcolm Williams gives safeties something to think about other than "watch Shipley/Cosby and try to decapitate them."
- A fourth receiver does the same thing.
- Our so-so running game benefits from a defense that has to defend receivers sideline-to-sideline.
All told, the decision should be an easy one. Again, the larger point is that Texas beat Oklahoma because Davis brought the heat and lost to Tech because he didn't. If the Longhorns catch the breaks they need and wind up in Kansas City and/or Miami, this offense needs to (1) be oriented towards attacking and (2) have used its final games perfecting it.
- Credit to the DBs. Texas joined Oklahoma as the only Big 12 team to force Robert Griffin into a poor day passing the ball. Outside the nifty 55-yard touchdown pass to Kendall Wright, Griffin completed just 5 of 18 passes for 16 yards. And for all the grief Ryan Palmer has endured from us fans over the last three seasons, it was his pick-six that turned the game. A nice bounceback effort from the defense against an offense whose only bright stars are underclassmen.
- Rushing game does its job. There was nothing sexy about the Texas rushing attack on Saturday, but it was effective as a complementary piece, with Fozzy handling the featured duties and Vondrell nicely filling in alongside. On a meta level, this is all Greg Davis needs from the rushing game--a serviceable attack with enough punch to keep defenses honest and help spring openings for the passing game. On a micro level, Davis could serve to be a little more creative in developing a few different looks for the tailbacks. We rarely run draw plays, seem unable to run a simple screen pass, and appear mostly disinterested in using play-action to help Colt and his receivers. We can do better.
- What is this "missed field goal" you speak of? One of the least talked about stories of the Longhorns this year has been the transformation of Hunter "Did I really need a scholarship?" Lawrence to Hunter "I don't miss anything, period" Lawrence. Like everyone else, though, he perhaps suffered from a little Lubbock Letdown, as he missed two field goals Saturday. I'm not worried, but as I watched the replay before looking at the box score, I was a little bit stunned to see both missed kicks.
- The big question for 2009 is apparent: How to replace Miller, Melton, Orakpo? Henry Melton has had a quietly excellent season. Roy Miller and Brian Orakpo are your defensive MVPs. All three graduate this year. Just a heads up: This is the potential Achlles' Heel heading forward.
- Awards. As always, a few awards to finish the wrap:
- Offensive MVP: Quan Cosby. You hurt your back, you call in sick to work for a week and buy an ergonomic chair. Quan goes for 116 and 2 TDs.
- Defensive MVP: Roy Miller. He's absurd. Should be a first-round draft choice.
- Play of the Game: Ryan Palmer INT for six.
- LVP: The crowd. Booooo.