So far this season, we've done noticeably better in the second half. The first game against FAU, after giving up over 200 yards passing in the first half, we clamped down. Against UTEP, we gave up some yards in the first half as they came out fire up, particularly in the run game, but we again shut them down, giving up no points in the second half as opposed to thirteen in the first. This past Saturday, while Rice's lone TD came in the second half, that happened when the game was finished and came off of Chiles' fumble. Most, if not all, of our seven sacks came after intermission.
Sure, critics can point to a variety of reasons why this is so. FAU's QB, Rusty Smith, was pulled relatively early in the second half as they new the game was out of reach. UTEP is just UTEP. Our sacks against Rice shouldn't be boasted about too much because our pass rushers, with such a big lead, could afford to simply pin their ears back and go blindly at the quarterback. Perhaps so. However, I think anyone watching can certainly see how this team learns as the game progresses and how Muschamp makes the necessary adjustments at halftime.
I think that's terrific. I really do, and I hope it continues. Nonetheless, I am worried that this may become a problem for us. Against the likes of Mizzou and Oklahoma, it might be suicide to wait until halftime to really get into the game defensively. Both teams have the capability of putting up points in a hurry, and if we're caught a little bit off balance to start the game, they can post 20+ points on us before we know it, making it hard on our offense to be balanced as they try to catch up. I don't want us to be forced into situations where the defense knows that we'll pass, allowing them to tee off on Colt. McCoy is brave and athletic and our O-line is improved, but do we really want him scrambling for his life again, like in 2007, desperately looking for plays to get us back in the game? I shudder at the thought. Perhaps Mizzou is incapable of that kind of defensive pressure, but I'm darn sure OU can do it.
The season is young, and so is the majority of our defense. Growing pains are expected. However, early mistakes against better competition will turn into big points. We'll likely not have the luxury of OU fumbling their own snap, like FAU did. We'll likely not have the luxury of giving up big plays and simply holding for field goals or no points at all, like against Rice.
So I'm in a bit of a conundrum. I love our defensive adjustments and intensity and applaud both Muschamp and his players for it. On the other hand, I'm feeling a bit impatient about our player developments as the Big 12 schedule, and OU in particular, inches ever closer. If we, say, give up 24 points in the first half against OU, we may be able to hold them to only 3 more in the second half. That may very well be enough points for them to beat us.
It'll be key for our defense to play a complete game once we hit that part of the schedule, which will help our offense a lot as well. We'll see if that happens, because somehow I doubt that we'll be seeing any mini-miracles from a guy like Jamaal Charles this season.