Saturday provided a pretty good reality check for this young Texas squad feeling good after a 4-0 start. It also had an interesting effect on the oft-fickle Longhorn fanbase. I generally like to stay away from the blogs and radio on the weekend of a loss, but the hangover definitely carried through to Monday. Folks deal with reality differently. I'll try to explain why Texas' reality isn't as dire as some feel it is today, following the jump.
I didn't see it coming...
Some people handle reality by ignoring the events leading up to their current predicament. Gives them the comfort of feeling blindsided by the event and thinking there was nothing they could have done to prevent it. Problem is, we (and I will use we to describe us as the Texas fanbase at large, very well knowing these do not apply to all Texas fans) knew what this Texas team was headed into Saturday.
We knew Case McCoy wasn't physically capable of standing in the pocket and taking a beating. Scrambling around with the ball away from his body is called "moxie" and "it factor" against inferior competition. Against a talented defense, its called playing with fire and usually ends up with turnovers. We knew David Ash hasn't played a big time and he'd force some throws into some tight windows. The speed of the game caught him off guard and he was brought down for a couple of big sacks. We knew the offensive line would struggle in pass protection because we have guards playing tackle. It gets harder when you go from a season high of 27 pass attempts against Rice to 36 pass attempts plus another 8 sacks (at least 45 drop backs for the game) against an OU D-line with two likely NFL draft picks. We knew that the secondary was susceptible because our corners haven't faced a legitimate passing attack and the safety help over the top is non-existent.
If you've been paying attention, you should have been aware of these issues. We have the same questions headed out that we did headed in, and I don't see any new ones.
Some people handle reality by thinking the rules don't apply to them. That, by some some special exclusion, the laws of physics and nature don't affect everyone equally. This is the issue I've seen the most in our post-OU overreaction. We're Texas, yes. But you don't fix years of lazy recruiting evaluations and an even longer period of poor S&C in a matter of a few months. It just doesn't happen. 5-7 was no accident. It was an absolute indictment on issues that have been masked by the play of stars such as Colt McCoy and Vince Young. Brick by brick isn't just poster board material. This year has always been about the process, and a 4-0 start doesn't change that. We're still on schedule for an 8-4 season that could bring significant improvement and a sign of good things to come. A rough outing against what should be the toughest team on schedule doesn't mean the process has failed. It simply shows the process remains. Patience here.
The grass is greener.
Some people handle reality by thinking the grass is always greener on the other side. I've seen cries for the heads of Mack Brown, Bryan Harsin, Manny Diaz, and Stacy Searels. I can understand why folks are frustrated with Mack and place blame on him for our current predicament. But to demand for the jobs of coordinators and assistants who have had all of 5 games to make their case is downright silly. They haven't even been here half a season, and we've decried these as failed hires. Too soon folks, too soon. Each of the coaches could have done something better to stem the tide of 55-17, but to be mad that they were handed a stick and two rocks and failed to stop a freight train is misplacing your frustrations.
I also got a good chuckle that we have already written off the careers of players as young as true freshman. David Ash is Garrett Gilbert 2.0. Quandre Diggs is soft and can't cover anybody. Malcolm Brown is a one trick pony. Etc, etc. If you want to make an assessment about an upper classman, go ahead. We know Blake Gideon can't cover and struggles to tackle in space. We know Tray Allen does plain whacky things in pass protection. But to sign off on the careers of players that shouldn't even need to be playing this year is whacky beyond my comprehension. I don't know if its just an emotional response mashing the panic button or what, but it doesn't make sense to me.
Buckle up...it'll be a bumpy ride.
Some people handle reality by strapping on their seatbelt when they see the road gets rocky ahead. Safety first, y'all. I suggest we all prepare ourselves for a hard fought season. Case will need to continue to improve his pocket presence and physicality if he wants to be the QB here moving forward. Ash will need to continue to learn and adjust to the college game. Either the young OTs (Kelley, Cochran, Greenlea) need to step up and play beyond their years, or hold the dam tight until help comes. The secondary will take its lumps and then remember we won't see receiving groups like Broyles-Stills and Blackmon-Cooper in consecutive weeks very often. And the coaches will continue to learn how to maximize the on-roster talent while bringing in guys to fit new schemes.
The difficulty here is that all of these situations take time. So, just be patient. Wait until the end of the season to make sweeping generalizations about the players and coaches. We get a better sample size, and no serious change will take place until post-season anyway. Until then, I'll believe in the process and watch for progress, taking notes and putting my horns up along the way.