The 2012 football season was less than 12 minutes old when the Texas Longhorns defense had their first of many encounters with poor tackling, as two players collided to allow Wyoming Cowboys wide receiver Robert Herron to race 82 yards for a touchdown, an astoundingly explosive play against a defense that made a living off of denying long touchdown passes for most of the 2011 season.
These days, missed tackles that result in long touchdown runs are met with an odd mix of outrage and weary resignation.
And finger-pointing. Lots of finger-pointing.
The coaches have been talking about getting the issues fixed, but it hasn't happened. On Monday, head coachsaid that players will start losing time on the field due to poor tackling, evidenced by junior safety Adrian Phillips now being listed as a co-starter with sophomores Mykkelle Thompson and Josh Turner.
One of the primary culprits cited in the poor tackling habits exhibited more prominently by members of the formerly-lauded secondary is the lack of live tackling in practice, as Texas has instead opted to keep things at "thud" tempo, apparently in an effort to keep the team healthy.
In the opinion of burnt in ny, the Longhorns are "the Champions of Thud":
Practice serves two functions: first to know what to do, and then to repeat key actions until they become second nature. The Longhorns are officially the world champions of "thud," the process by which defenders in practice pretend to tackle players by bumping them without actually taking them down to the ground. Adrian Phillips has forgotten that he has arms. It's too much to expect a little finger-pointing and film sessions and a "focus on tackling in Week 8 to overcome seven weeks of bad muscle memory. See comment 1. about coaching from a place of fear.
Well, the coaches have finally moved beyond being scared of more injuries to being scared of losing a game because of atrocious tackling.
As a result, the Longhorns worked hard on live tackling drills in practice Tuesday, according to senior safety Kenny Vaccaro:
We did a lot of tackling at practice. We stressed that really, really hard and even more than in the last couple of weeks. So we are getting it corrected.
The statement jives with practice reports, though the question becomes why the coaches waited so long to adopt this tactic. Seems like something that would have made sense during the bye week.
If there's a positive here, it's that there was a change in strategy that emerged from the staff meeting on Sunday night regarding the epidemic. There's also a big negative here -- it took a staff meeting to realize that live tackling needed to be emphasized in practice, regardless of the risk. Sooo, yeah.
Vaccaro prefaced his revelation by noting that he's tired of talking about missed tackles.
Suffice it to say that Texas fans are beyond tired of talking about them. And watching them.