Like most fans this upside down season, I've gone from shock (UCLA) to frustration (Oklahoma) to false hope (Nebraska) to anger (Iowa State) to an uneasy sadness (Baylor). I suppose the next step is hysteria.
Texas has lost three straight games at home to teams much less talented. So, what does that tell us? Winning and losing is about so much more than talent. It's how you use it - or perhaps more accurately with this team, how you misuse it. We thought we knew how valuable guys like Jordan Shipley, Quan Cosby and Earl Thomas were. Now we're really finding out.
The increased urgency was noticeable against Baylor, but we just weren't able to finish drives on offense. Yeah, that's where a good running game comes into play. That's the difference between touchdowns and five field goals. Baylor's two big plays wiped out the Texas field-goal fest. The catch-and-run touchdown pass took advantage of the Texas blitz. Blake Gideon couldn't cover the slant one-on-one (surprise, huh?). It happens. Jay Finley's 69-yard touchdown sprint against nothing but air was inexcusable.
Remember in Top Gun when Maverick and Goose flew through a jet wash, the engine stalled and their plane went into a flat spin? That's this team - flat-spinning and struggling to gain control, and sometimes shifting the controls just hoping the plane will respond to something.
With four wins, four losses and four games left, it's really pointless to talk about what might happen over the next month. What we need to see is a team that will progress and finish. Even if it turns your stomach, a lot of the same players will be back next season. After the jump, we'll try to pry some positives out of this nightmare.
Garrett Gilbert's Progress
I'm still confused and amused by all the fans ready to axe Gilbert. I think most people are just wanting someone to use as a punching bag. And he's the quarterback, so he takes it.
What I saw Saturday was a confident young leader. He made mistakes and had some bad throws, but guess what - it was his best game of the season. His receivers also dropped six passes, including one that would have been an early touchdown. But the most comforting thing I saw were downfield passes... and wouldn't you know, they actually worked! Turns out, when you call plays to the strength of your players, the offense is more efficient.
Gilbert has a long, long way to go, but I like what I see, considering the circumstances. His running was effective, and he looked pretty natural doing it. While that's a great thing to have in your back pocket, Gilbert running should not be a major aspect of this offense. He's a thrower.
Retooling the Running Game
You know those dolls that instantly collapse when you press a button at their base? That's Tre' Newton the instant he makes contact with an opposing player. He has great acceleration, but the guy cannot bust through tackles. The Tyler Rose must be wincing.
The offensive line has not improved since the Nebraska game. Fozzy Whittaker had no carries, but he completed a 26-yard pass. Humm...
Although we outgained Baylor on the ground, we're all hoping this thing is a Malcolm Brown arrival away from getting back to where it's supposed to be.
BROC (Big Receiver on Campus)
Gilbert was able to spread the ball around, with five receivers catching at least three balls. Marques Goodwin led with 71 yards, but he also had a key drop on a third down. No one really stepped up to be a go-to guy, but it was nice to see different guys get open down the field.
The tight ends are becoming less and less reliable, but unless Greg Davis is going to stretch the field, there's not a whole lot of use for tight ends between the 20s.
The D-Line Shuffle
The line did a great job of holding Baylor to just 109 yards rushing. Sixty-nine of those came off one long touchdown run. The very dangerous and talented Robert Griffin III had just 17 yards on 16 carries and was sacked three times.
Sam Acho has been the lone constant on this team. He had 10 tackles, including three for loss and a forced fumble. If everyone had his heart, this team would be undefeated (OK, maybe 7-1).
This group really kept Baylor in check. Penalties and the inconsistent offense keep putting the defense in bad spots. But that's no excuse for the defense. They laid down at times, but after eight games, the line has showed a lot of progress. They have proven to be the strongest unit on this entire team.