This will be a post straight from the gut. If you're offended... I don't care. I'll leave the front page for PB and Big Roy to make their comments, but for now, I just need to write. About something.
First of all, congratulations to Alabama. Yes, I wish we got to play them at full strength. However, they made some big time plays when they needed to and toughed out the win. Mark Ingram had a great day and seems like a good kid. Greg McElroy, unfortunately, is a moron doing the "Horns down" sign when he did exactly nothing to help Alabama win. Hopefully, we get to play him again, because it looked like fun sacking him as he looked confused. Still, let's not let one player, who was altogether worthless this game, from casting a bad light on the rest of the Alabama team.
Our Horns fought hard, but it just wasn't enough. We had a great season, although stressful at times, but we showed character and heart this game.
Bullets after the jump:We win this game with Colt McCoy: Alabama fans are not going to like hearing this, which is understandable. Nonetheless, I'm 100% confident we win this game with Colt McCoy. If there was one player, for either team, that was the most important for his side, it was unquestionably Colt. Mark Ingram is a great player, but Alabama can lose Ingram and still maintain their offensive identity. Losing Colt was the absolute worst thing that could have happened to Texas and it effectively neutered the Texas offense. It reminded me a lot of the Kansas State game in 2006; we have control early, and then Colt McCoy goes down which causes our team to go into a massive funk.
The most frustrating part about it is that it wasn't even a hard hit. I've seen Colt McCoy take hits tons worse than that; heck, I've seen Colt beaten to a pulp before. To lose the most valuable player in the game, arguably even the most valuable player in the entire country (name one player that a team relies on more than Colt), on such a routine hit just eats away at me. The amount of points we left on the field, from settling for field goals on the first two drives to muffing good field position, was really painful. That doesn't happen with Colt. It created a ripple effect through the whole team; the defense lost their edge for a bit and got tired as our offense proceeded to look like an SEC offense for the rest of the half.
Luck giveth, and Luck taketh away, I guess. We got some good luck when Sam Bradford went down. It was our turn to feel that side of things. It was actually much worse for us; at least Landry Jones got some games under his belt before then and it wasn't for the national title. Gilbert was tossed in there almost completely green against a darn good defense.
The coaches panicked: Mack Brown is a great coach. He and the staff, however, did not handle Colt's departure well at first. I'm willing to cut them some slack; it was obviously a huge shock to everybody that our leader was out of the game. Still, it's very disappointing. If we thought Greg Davis was predictable with Colt, he was 1000 times more so when Gilbert came in. His playcalls were putting Gilbert in rough situations (namely third and long), and at one point of the game I really thought we had shot Gilbert's confidence straight to Hell and it was never coming back this game. That moment came in one of Mack Brown's worst decisions ever: Down 17-6 with virtually no time left, I was just wanting our team to get the heck out of there and re-group. Instead, he makes a horrible decision to try for a field goal, a decision that only says "Panic" to me. The playcall was also bad, and a few lucky bounces later, Alabama has a touchdown to end the half. If you look at how the second half progressed, that touchdown may have cost us the game. I want nobody else as my coach right now than Mack, but that decision will go down as one of the worst, if not the worst, of his entire tenure.
Gilbert got very little help in the first half: Another parallel to the K-state game in 2006: When Jevan Snead came in then, our receivers went into a funk and started dropping balls all over the place. It happened tonight too, with guys like Malcolm Williams, Dan Buckner, and even Jordan Shipley one time dropping balls. Malcolm Williams in particularly had a rough day, failing to help his freshman QB in a nearly impossible situation. The passes weren't perfect and the catches were tough to make, but in a championship game with a QB who needs a lot of help, Malcolm has to make that catch in the endzone. The next play, Gilbert threw a pick, and so on a drive where we should have gotten 7 we got zero.
Alabama's defense is good but not dominant: If Colt's in this game, we definitely get more than 21 points. I was actually pretty surprised how poorly they handled Jordan Shipley; he was roasting their defenders with his patented double move. Alabama's defense almost gave up an 18 point lead to a true freshman QB with virtually zero meaningful game experience. This is a darn good defense, but it is far from one of the all-time greats that we've seen.
Do not be mad at Garrett Gilbert: Did Gilbert have a good day? Of course not. However, before you rip the kid, just stop a think about the situation he was thrown in. He's 18-19 years old, has no meaningful game experience in college, and all of a sudden he's asked to replace one of the all-time great QB's in the national championship game against a fierce defense and in front of millions of viewers. And like I said above, he got very little help initially. I thought his confidence was gone and I was preparing myself for a loss at halftime, because I knew Colt was not returning even before they announced it. However, the kid impressed me with his grittiness, and he hung in there to lead a rally that had Alabama fans wondering how on earth they lost control of the game. I'm proud of the guy, and I think he has a bright, bright future.
I'm proud of the way our team fought: Our team was left for dead by everyone at halftime. Everyone was talking about how without Colt McCoy, there was zero chance Texas could win this game. Our team was obviously shaken by the loss of McCoy, but the way they fought in the second half fills me with pride, despite the ultimate disappointment. They could have folded, and nobody would have been surprised. Instead, they cut the lead to three and had a real chance to win the game with three minutes left and with the ball. Major props to guys like Sergio Kindle and Jordan Shipley, who made big plays when there was hardly any hope left and kept this team afloat. Jordan Shipley will go down as one of the all-time great Horns, and performances like tonight shows why.
Mack and GD also did a good job rebounding, but it just wasn't enough to shake off that disastrous first half. Still, props to them for hanging in there, as well as Will Muschamp.
The defense played well: The unfortunate part about the final score is that idiot fans and analysts will point to it and be like, "SEE! TEXAS LOST BY DOUBLE DIGITS! SEC! SEC! SEC!" From such people, our defense will not get the credit they deserve. True, they struggled some against the power run game: That was no big surprise, as I don't think anyone thought we were going to hold Alabama to the yardage we held everyone else. However, Alabama was anemic on third downs and we made Greg McElroy look like Greg McElroy again. All of Alabama's points came off of great field position or turnovers; I can't think of a single drive where Alabama simply marched down the entire length of the field. I hope Alabama fans saw that Texas has a legit defense, hanging in there tight despite being left out to dry on numerous occasions. I thought Sergio Kindle in particular made himself some money today.
Penalties hurt... and so did the refs: The refs did not cost us the game, but I was very unhappy with the uneven pass interference calls. That's all I'm going to say about that.
As for our team, we made too many boneheaded mistakes. If there is one major complaint of the defense, it's that they gave up way too many penalty yards. On one drive, we gave Alabama like 35 yards in penalties. When you're trying to come back, that hurts... oh, that hurts. The offensive line was crap in this area.
The offensive line was unsatisfactory: While we did not see a wholesale failure like we saw against Nebraska, the offensive line had too many penalties and too many mistakes. I guess we should not be surprised with the fumble that sealed the game; a blitzer runs free, a lineman is blocking nobody, and Gilbert gets smashed in the back. Great. We only gave up one sack (that last one), but the line did not help matters much.
We won the special teams battle: Tiffin missed a FG and extra point, Alabama failed on a very ill-advised fake punt, and they didn't do a whole lot of damage in the return game. Texas had a few decent returns, Lawrence made both of his kicks, and we also got TWO kickoffs back. Unfortunately, the McCoy-less offense just could not take full advantage of these opportunities.
It was the right decision for Colt not to play: Some people are angry at Colt and his father, but that is just senseless. How many times have we seen Colt take harder hits than that? How many times have we seen him driven into the ground and get back up? Don't question his toughness. If he has no feeling in his right arm, like he said, then he can't play. Simple as that. I don't believe for a second that Colt was simply playing it safe because of his future in the NFL. And even if he DID consider the NFL, it's a smart consideration to make. He has his whole life ahead of him. No reason to make a rash decision to jeopardize your future.
This is one of the more painful games that I had to watch. To know that we could have won this game, and in my opinion would have won this game, with Colt McCoy just hurts a lot. I'm proud of the team, but I can't help but feel that they deserved better than that bad hand they were dealt. If Alabama beats us at our best, so be it. I would make my peace with it and move one. Now, I will likely never let this game go, thinking "What if" on so many scenarios. What if Colt McCoy doesn't get hurt? What if Mack Brown doesn't stupidly give away a touchdown? What if Malcolm Williams catches that ball in the end zone? So on and so forth...
And unfortunately, that will be a part of Colt McCoy's legacy as a Longhorn quarterback. He will go down as one of the all-time greats, but, fair or not, his career is also filled with a "what if" questions as well. What if Colt McCoy never got injured against Kansas State? That cost us a Big 12 title and possible national title. What if Blake Gideon catches the easiest interception in history? That also cost us a Big 12 title and possible national title. And now, it's, "What if Colt McCoy never got hurt with such a flukey injury?" It's an unfair way to end such a great career, but the world ain't fair. Colt is a strong guy, and he'll use this experience and learn from it. My heart just broke for the guy fighting back tears in the post-game interview, forced to sit on the sideline in the biggest game of his career. At least Tebow had a shot; Colt never did.
It was a great season, and I thank our players and coaches for it. I wished it could have ended differently, but that's sports for ya: Injuries happen. I'm down in the dumps now, but I'll hold my head high and raise my horns for this team, who fought in the worst possible situation they could have been cast in.
P.S.: My God, were those sideline shots of Vince Young painful. I was yelling at the TV, "Please! Let us play him!" Of course that's not fair; we would have won by 50. Sigh.