Recap and grades

Wow.  Well, it was definitely not the best game we've played.  However, I don't think it was our worst game; I've seen us play worse (the first half against Tech is the worst by far), but we have to give due credit to Ohio State.  Ohio State executed their gameplan to near perfection in the first half and very nearly took this game.  So while the rest of the nation will continue to pile on the Buckeyes for not winning the big one, I will say nothing.  They came out prepared, ready, and motivated, and Tressel did a great job preparing his guys.  It was a great ball game, and when big name schools like Ohio State and Texas meet up, that's what it's supposed to be like because we don't see these matchups very often.

I was thinking that perhaps the football gods decided that after all the pain we endured after the Tech loss that we would be allowed to be on the other side of that kind of finish.  It sure feels good, but I know it feels awful for Buckeye fans.

I already told people that I knew my 41-17 prediction was too much, but heck, it was 5 a.m. and I was clearly being biased.  However, even a more realistic prediction on my part would have been something like 34-17 or 35-24 or something like that.  In other words, a two or three score, comfortable Texas victory.  That sure didn't happen; we didn't come out with our best and Ohio State really came in wanting to prove something.  Fortunately, even though they definitely outplayed us in the first half, it was only a 6-3 ball game.

I wish we came out better but I'm happy with the win.  I don't want to be overly critical or anything, but I'll take the time to grade each unit here in my worthless opinion.  I'll grade the units first and then explain.

Quarterback - B

For another QB, this might be an A game, but I've seen much better from Colt.  Nonetheless... THANK YOU SO MUCH.  I love the guy.  But in the interest of objectivity, I'll look at the good and bad.

Colt made some bad decisions and mistakes that otherwise could have prevented a lot of stress for Longhorn fans.  Sometimes, he had receivers open and just missed, most notably his bad pass to Malcolm Williams which should have gone for six.  That interception was horrible; Collins maybe had a chance, but that's a ball you overthrow so that the worst case scenario is that it sails over everybody and you boot the FG.  That was the worst thing Colt could have done.  Furthermore, he sometimes just needs to toss the ball away.  When we were up 17-9 and Ohio State was reeling from our no-huddle attack, Colt fumbled the ball trying to do too much and that killed the drive right there (he could have salvaged it if he made a better pass to Williams, but he didn't).  That was a huge mistake.  With the lead and with Ohio State absolutely flummoxed, just toss the ball out of bounds and line up for second down.  Ohio State would score a touchdown on the next possession to recapture momentum.  Colt simply wasn't as "money" as he normally is, and he got fortunate on a few throws that could have been picked.

Still, despite his errors, he still delivered the game for us.  That was a great TD run, putting a nifty move on Jenkins, and he passed for over 400 yards which obviously includes that last TD pass to Cosby.  I think a lot of QB's will take this "B" game from Colt.  Sometimes, you just don't play your best, and you have to overcome mistakes and fight for a win.  He did that tonight for us.

Runnningback - B

One thing I will criticize GD for is that I felt, just like in the Tech game, that he abandoned the run too early.  We got back to it some, especially in the no huddle attack, with some success, but I felt that a handful of unimpressive runs scared him away from it.  Heck, McCoy threw nearly sixty freakin' times (58 to be exact), which I am positive is a career high.  Goodness gracious.  In any case, in their limited duty, I thought the runningbacks did well.  Chris O. had a pretty stout game running the ball and he made his usual good receptions for us, and Fozzy ran decently.  Cody Johnson saw limited duty and didn't do too much.  I have no idea where McGee was, so I guess he just didn't have good practices or something.  I feel like he's our best north-south runner, and I thought he should have gotten some carries over Chris O. 

Wide Receiver - A+

Quan, you're the man.  I said in my preview that I really hoped he scored two touchdowns to make his season total ten... well, I got my wish in a very, very good way.  In my eyes, he's clearly the offensive player of the game, despite what McCoy did.  Fourteen receptions for 171 yards and two touchdowns, including taking a slant for the game winner, is what you call a good day.  I couldn't be happier for him.  He's definitely a favorite among fans because he's clearly such a good guy to go with his hard work ethic and skill.

Considering Shipley's heroics against OU, it seemed like we didn't see him as much, but then again, he hauled in ten receptions for 78 yards.  Brandon Collins was excellent today, as was James Kirkendoll who made a great effort to get that key first down on 4th and 3 (sorry, Buckeye fans, that was the right spot, and in fact, the spot was actually shorter than where it should have been).  Malcolm Williams should have had a TD catch after he roasted Malcolm Jenkins, but alas, Colt didn't give him a good ball.  I'll give him props for still making a great catch on it though.

We'll miss you Quan, but I have high hopes for Collins, Kirk, and Williams.  I'm confident that we will have a dangerous aerial assault next year as well.

Offensive Line - B-

When we got into our no-huddle, they whipped the Buckeye defense around.  For the most part, they were good in pass protection, particularly in the second half, and they opened up better holes for our runners in the second half.  The first half, there were some whiffed blocks and we really give our backs a chance to do something with the ball.  I guess it was more or less similar to the rest of the season:  Decent to good pass protection, spotty run-blocking.  It was a serviceable game but we definitely didn't dominate the line of scrimmage or anything.  It was enough to allow Colt and Quan to win the game for us, so we'll worry about run-blocking next season.

Defensive Line - B+

I felt like they got penetration but they did whiff on Pryor on several occasions.  He's a great athlete and he definitely gave me some VY flashbacks as he eased by some of our defenders, but sometimes he got loose due to poor containment and tackling.  Also, Beanie Wells got a bit too loose in the first half, and while you can argue that may be more the fault of our LB's since his damage came when he was able to break big runs, it still shouldn't have happened.  At the least, we tightened up on him in the second half, limiting him to ten yards on four carries.  Big Roy made some plays up the middle and while I believe Orakpo only got that one sack at the end, it was a very important one and he did get into the backfield on several occasions.  I thought Melton did well today, while Houston was just okay.  Pryor isn't an accurate QB, but we made him less so with the pressure he got today.  We'll definitely miss Roy, Melton, and Orakpo, and best of luck to them.

Linebackers - B-

Well, they definitely got challenged tonight.  Beanie Wells was a handful in that first half and Pryor is an elite athlete.  Our linebackers often got caught with bad angles which allowed either Pryor or Wells to spring free.  One player who at least had the athleticism to keep up with Pryor in the backfield was Sergio Kindle, and so I'll thank him for that.  Muckelroy made some good tackles but he also made some mistakes in coverage and, like I said above, he, Bobino, and Norton all got caught with bad angles this game.  Bobino, at the least, converted a fake punt for us.

It was a solid effort, but it was often sloppy.

Secondary - C+

I like Deon Beasley a lot.  It may not be fair to call him our most disappointing player because of his high expectations for the season, but fair or not, he was expected to be our best cornerback coming into the year.  He's been outplayed by several players.  He screwed up on that pass interference call that allowed the Buckeyes to score a touchdown, and then on one particularly 2nd and 13, he whiffed on a short route and allowed the receiver to pick up the first down.  Eek.

I think Palmer may have had the best night at corner, while Chykie and Curtis were decent.  Gideon and Thomas didn't give up anything huge, but they, like the LB's, had some trouble with Pryor and Wells.  Also, Gideon's coverage on Pryor on that fade route was just terrible.  It was a great pass and catch, so they arguably would have scored anyway, but I'd prefer to see our defenders actually be aware of the ball and take a stab at it.

Both Boeckman and Pryor had pretty crummy completion percentages, but I think that was more due to our good pressure, the fact that Pryor is simply inaccurate, and that they don't have any great wide receivers (though made props to Robiskie for a good game).

Special teams - B

Just average.  We did convert a fake punt and Lawrence hit his lone field goal, but nothing snazzy here.  We had pretty pedestrian returns and punts, but at least we didn't foul up on kickoff coverage.

Greg Davis - B

I was just telling the Buckeye fan I was watching the game with about Davis' love for the WR screen, and I wondered how long it would take for us to see it.  Well... second play of the game, on a 2nd and 1, and it lost two yards and we ended up punting.  D'oh.  In his defense, Cosby was very successful on his screens, but I feel like we just see it too much.

I felt GD abandoned the run too early, as I said above, and I honestly really didn't like his playcalling in the first half.  However, I'll give him major props for the no-huddle attack, and he did call a great series of plays to finish the game for us.  I think we could have tested them deep more, but all in all, I'm not going to rip him for this game.  We won, and that's what matters.  Besides, we can't blame him for some of our mistakes, which are purely on the players.

Will Muschamp - B

Not even the great Muschamp gets an A.  I'll give him this:  We've been a bend-don't-break defense all season, and we held Ohio State to field goals on several occasions.  We just gave up the yards on the ground that we are accustomed to giving up through the air.  Containment was sometimes sloppy and so was tackling, and the fact that we didn't have an answer for Beanie Wells early was disappointing considering that everybody knew he was the guy our defense would focus on shutting down first.  I wish we got more turnovers and we did drop a couple picks, which was disappointing.  All in all, the defense's performance, while not awful, was slightly disappointing.  We surrendered 379 yards of total offense and 21 points, and Ohio State missed a field goal and failed on a two point conversion due to a dropped pass.

But aren't we just too critical here at Texas.  All in all, 21 points isn't horrible, and we limited Wells in the second half before his injury and we made Pryor very uncomfortable throwing the football.

Mack Brown - A-

I wish we came out sharper than we did, but I thought Mack had this team poised for this kind of thing.  Mack is notorious for being allegedly "so classy" when talking about his opponents, but in this case, I really don't think he was just talking crap.  He clearly suspected Ohio State to come out motivated to prove their naysayers wrong, and we eventually matched their intensity (almost too late, but whatever).  He certainly was fired up on the sideline as well.  He's been criticized a lot of his in-game coaching, but I think he can be underrated in this regard and we certainly came out a lot better in the second half after whatever speech or butt-kicking he gave our team in the locker room.

It was just one of those games that when you win them, you can look back and be glad that it had drama and excitement, but during the game you wish you would just win by thirty so you can slow your heartbeat.  It was a great game and Ohio State shouldn't be ashamed.  While I think we played sloppy and it was a B or B- game for us, you have course have to credit some of that to the way Ohio State played.  Ohio State certainly made some mistakes as well, but they played hard and I respect the challenge they posed tonight.  Great game.

Even if we won by 60, we aren't getting a split title.  It just isn't happening.  But this team gave us a heck of a ride this season, and I can't wait for the next.  Hook'em!

Was I too nice?  Too harsh?  I actually set my mind to not giving anyone lower than a B-, since I'm still happy right now, but I guess I'll give a C+ to the secondary.  And certainly, some grades would change, for better or for worse, after I calmed down and watched the game again.  But screw it, I'm going to get ice cream now.

And once again, thank you Quan Cosby.  You'll be missed.

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