Texas Longhorns head coach Mack Brown will meet with the media today at 11 am CST to discuss the upcoming game against the Kansas Jayhawks and recap last Saturday's match-up. Watch the press conference streaming live at MB-TF or on the Longhorn Network.
Are we but mere victims of circumstance? After Saturday's old west shootout, I kept coming back to this question. Backtrack with me for a moment. Few years back, the seeming instability of a league in which church-split hung over every conference member's head like a tiny black rain cloud led to public ridicule and snickering. All fingers pointed to Austin as the culprit. Given vacuums exist to be filled, did Big 12 programs rush to shore up their programs resulting to make them more marketable and attractive both to old and new coaching regimes, but more importantly to talent? Fast forward to 2012: The year of Big 12 parity.
Are we but mere victims of circumstance? The $300M LHN deal has now contributed to no less than two endowed chairs at the University. So significant is the public relations windfall that we've not really heard a peep from the typically outspoken faculty vis-à-vis budget discrepancies. However, we finally heard from a head strong player this past week about the distraction of said PR tool.
We just got back to being physical and not worrying about about all of the stuff at Texas that gets you distracted. The Longhorn Network, and the glory and the Nike and all of that other stuff and just [get back to] playing football. That's all that matters. That's something a lot of other schools around the country can focus on and not all of that other junk that's out there. -Kenny Vaccaro
Are we but mere victims of circumstance? Much has been written and reported in the last several football cycles on the long-term health effects of playing the game at upper levels. All levels of football have taken seriously the medical warnings culminating in rules changes and the like. Have some entities gone too far in their proper teaching of hitting/tackling fundamentals so as to thwart the liability hawks? Please don't put words in my mouth as I am not attributing directly the current state of Longhorn defensive technique as others appear to produce results that counter this argument. However, does the Longhorn staff go the extra mile in coaching not to lose on this front?
Clearly it is not enough to have such a tremendous advantage in budget, facilities, and paper talent that another vein must be explored to grapple with the seeming neutrality in which the program finds itself mid-season.
On to the games.
About the Texas Longhorns against Baylor, it starts up front. While true the Baylor defense is built to let the other team score as quickly as possible so the offense can get on the field, the Longhorn offensive line dominated physically up front and it was not even close.
That gave David Ash and the power game room to operate. It was the one thing Briles and his Bears could ill afford in spite of the 4th down gifting from the Horns.
Speaking of defense, player of the game honors go to Alex King and Josh Turner. Both stepped up and through the big play window time and again.
Coach will gloss over the glaring inadequacies of the team, speak lightly of statistics since the only thing we are tracking from here on are W's and L's, and turn the team's attention to Kansas.
Donald Hawkins twisted ankle suffered against Oklahoma appears to be one of the severe kind as he was seen during practice as well as pregame with zero ability to push off.
No additional word on Jordan Hicks or Malcolm Brown but each passing game either are not playing appears to define their near term status.
Also, did David Ash injure his lower left leg late in the 3rd period trying to slip an upcoming hit by Baylor's Hager? Harsin limited his passing after that series and his follow through was not as sharp (missed passes to McFarland and underthrow to Grant). This is worth keeping an eye on.
On the next opponent:
Kansas is in the midst of another rebuilding effort. Say what you want about Charlie Weiss but he's a no frills coach. Tough minded and goal focused, he's doing what he can to be competitive. It starts in the trenches and Kansas has rebounded from some down years in this regard.
Actually, they currently have a similar rank to Texas in the "toughness" categories. Both offensively and defensively they rank higher than Texas against conference teams. The problem with Kansas is they can't stick it in the endzone as they are last in RZ offense (only 5 of 11 in conference games). But they finally get to test their upside as Texas is dead last in conference RZ defense. In spite of their time of possession advantage (currently rank 2nd at 34:06), most of this is deep into games in which they are playing against 2nd level competition. Add to this that most opposing teams ratchet up their scoring in the 2nd and 3rd quarters (KU is -77 points through seven games and the glaring thing they lack is sufficient depth to compete a full 60 minutes.
Like all other teams the Longhorns have faced, look for Weiss to keep the ball as long as possible and scheme against the league worst defense against the run. And they have a talented tailback in James Sims who is the 2nd rated rusher against Big 12 competition at 118 yards per game. They offer a counter punch to Sims in sophomore Tony Pierson who is a 5.3 yard per carry running back, fast, and ranked at 8th best athlete by Rivals as a recruit.
But that's where their offensive punch ends as transfer quarterback Dayne Crist can't get the protection he needs to play the passing position which is why he only completes throws versus Big 12 foes about half the time. Combine this with only one passing touchdown in three conference games and it is apparent the way to stop Kansas is make them....
Oh the places we could be if it were but that easy for this Texas Longhorns defense.
This is a game Texas should win and likely will. But they won't be able to take any plays off to secure the victory.