By no means do I want to poop on the accomplishments of our team this season, which was awesome, but I can't help but think:
What if Jamaal Charles and Jermichael Finley stayed?
If Finley was here, we have more TE depth with Irby. Maybe it's Finley who takes that hit, and since he has different size and a different body than Irby, maybe it doesn't hit him in such a bad spot and he just walks away from it. Then we have two tight ends that can seriously threaten opposing defenses. Because of the injury to Irby, we had none this season, and while we did admirably to cover for this, it still hurt a lot. Ugh.
I know Jamaal Charles got a lot of heat for fumbling during the middle part of the 2007 season, but at the end, he was without question one of the top backs in the nation. If there was one glaring weakness in our offense, it was the lack of a consistent running game. Even with suspect blocking, a player like JC could make do. He was also a decent receiver who could stretch the field in the spread. What if he's the one who gets that carry in the endzone against Tech? Does he get free? Maybe so. I really don't understand the Jamaal Charles haters; fact is, we don't have a back right who had his talent. Furthermore, with Chris O. for third down situations and Cody Johnson emerging as a great short-yardage back, we had players who could make up for whatever deficiences Charles had. Thinking back, this is definitely a more painful departure than Finley's. I remember expecting a big year out of Charles before he decided to leave.
Sigh :(. There is no doubt in my heart that Jamaal Charles, at the least, makes an enormous difference against Texas Tech.
So thank you, Sergio, for staying, and I hope Colt comes back as expected. I would hate to see deficient play at outside linebacker and think of Kindle all the time if he left.
Of course, none of this compares to the 2006 "what-if": What if Vince Young came back? Then quite obviously, Mack Brown has back-to-back national championships.
Again, I mean no disrespect to our current team, who had a fantastic year. But when football season is over and you missed the big prize by a hair, you just can't help but think back and wonder if certain things happened differently. Whenever I see highlights of Charles bursting with amazing speed for a huge gain or making up for bad blocking by avoiding defenders in the backfield to still pick up four yards, I just slap myself in the forehead.