I feel like I need to preface this piece with an explanation about what I am trying to accomplish. First, the idea comes from James Dator at Cat Scratch Reader and is meant to highlight the positives and negatives from the previous game. For wins, there are usually more optimistic comments and for losses there are more pessimistic comments. There are three different distinctions for each category.
For example, a great performance would earn an "Extremely Optimistic", a solid performance would earn a "Pretty Optimistic" and an average performance filled with potential might earn a "Somewhat Optimistic." Mirror this labeling technique with pessimistic thoughts and you'll usually have a dynamic piece with diverse opinions on a variety of topics. What makes the piece successful is it's range and the ability to find the good in the bad and the bad in the good.
Understand? Great. Let's get started.
Extremely Pessimistic- Bryson Echols
This one is easy, as Echols will infamously be remembered as the special teams player who went rogue Saturday night and cost his team two personal foul penalties. His first penalty, roughing the punter, has been considered by some to be the turning point in the game. BYU capitalized off of Echols mistake by scoring a touchdown and never looking back. Though, I think we can all agree that Texas was really going nowhere anyway, Echols careless mistake proved to be the permanent momentum shift BYU needed.
But you'd think Echols would overcome this adversity by stepping up and making a play his next time on the field. Right? Negative. Echols next move was even stupider. On a great Fera punt, Echols ran down field and instead of downing the ball inside the ten yard line, he tackled the punt returner. He just tackled him. For no reason. The referees were so awestruck at this that they actually didn't throw the flag at first, because no one is stupid enough to do this on purpose.
Surely he was blocked in to the punt returner. Right? Wrong. He just flat out tackled him. Tack fifteen yards onto the end of that punt and instead of starting with the ball inside the ten, BYU was working from the 35. If you were to take anything positive from Echols play last night, he did provide one of the only textbook tackles for the Longhorns, just for no apparent reason. (Note: Manny Diaz is listed as the Special Teams coach.)
Extremely Pessimistic- Offensive Line
Like, are you serious? These guys were terrible last night. Just terrible. I don't know what was more pathetic, the run blocking or the pass blocking, but there was very little upside with this group. Let's start with pass blocking. Actually, it would be stupid to call it pass blocking because nobody on the offensive line blocked anybody. The five Texas offensive lineman ATTEMPTED to block the three man pass rush of BYU, but to no avail. BYU's defensive line manhandled a Texas offensive line that, at best, can be described as "piss poor."
The offensive line gave Texas quarterback David Ash essentially no time to establish himself in the pocket. Ash developed his happy feet by the end of the first quarter and was usually out of the pocket within three seconds of the snap.
"Well yeah Curry," you might say whining into the computer screen, "but what about the run blocking scheme? It had to be better right? After all, we have four of the best running backs in the country." Nope. Texas rushed 39 times for 132 yards and one touchdown. This number is inflated because Jonathan Gray had two big runs against BYU's second string defense in the fourth quarter.
That's right, BYU was comfortable enough to put their second string defense in to maintain their 19-point lead. In reality, Texas never established a run game because the offensive line couldn't get a push. The Longhorns' rushing attack was stagnant from the first drive to the final whistle, with most yards coming from Ash on unnecessary scrambles that were caused by bad pass protection.
Extremely Pessimistic- Defense
I feel like it is stupid to explain why the defense sucks in significant detail, but after the second game of the season there is no better way to say it other than "there is a serious possibility that we are going to fire our defensive coordinator before next Saturday." It's currently 2:14 am and I wouldn't be surprised if he was already fired right now. The defensive line has promise, but the linebackers still don't know what they are doing and the secondary can't tackle. Giving up 550 yards to a BCS caliber team is usually accompanied with a $400,000+ check, because only one-off FCS opponents perform that poorly.
Not the case with the Longhorns. In an attempt to embarrass themselves on the national stage, the Longhorn defense truly bottomed out against the Cougars. BYU quarterback Taysom Hill, who has earned the moniker "Taysom Football", rushed for 259 yards on 17 carries, averaging over 15 yards. But here is the funny thing; he's actually a not a good quarterback. At one point tonight, BYU had the lead while Hill was 4 for 17 passing. 4. for. 17. BYU is essentially in a permanent wildcat formation with a running back at the helm. Hill completed 23.5% of his passes and BYU was still dominating the Longhorns in every aspect of the game.
So what was the answer here? Do you load the box? How many guys can you confidently put in there without being threatened in the pass game? Eight? Nine?..Ten? It doesn't matter, because Texas never forced the Cougars' flaccid armed quarterback to have to make plays in the air. He finished the game completing 9 passes on 26 attempts for 129 yards. His pass completion average was 10 yards less than his rushing average. A quarter of his passing yards came on one play. This season, Hill has 22 passes on 67 attempts with one touchdown and two interceptions. Last night, Texas turned this passing-inept quarterback into a Heisman hopeful.
Extremely Pessimistic- Major Applewhite
Applewhite also decided to shit the bed last night. His play-calling had shades of Greg Davis combined with a level of ineptitude you wouldn't expect from the "future of Texas football." He made a lot of questionable decisions that ended up hurting the Longhorns. Literally. On the first drive, Applewhite decided to use Daje Johnson as the power back on third and short with a run between the tackles. Not only did he fail to get the first down, he also left the game with an apparent ankle injury.
Applewhite doubled down on stupid decisions later in the game by giving Jalen Overstreet his first real college carry on a big fourth and short. Overstreet lost three yards. So what happened? Did Applewhite seriously think these were good decisions? Was he worried Malcolm Brown would get hurt again? Did Joe Bergeron call him a ginger? You'd think Applewhite would let the designated power running back get the bulk of the carries in, you know, power back situations.
There were some positives. Texas flashed in the downfield game and Ash really showed how great of a deep ball passer he can be, but Applewhite's decision to mobilize his quarterback backfired in the fourth quarter when Ash's head was slammed into the turf and he was forced to leave the game. Case McCoy didn't show much promise in Applewhite's system in the final eight minutes. If Ash can't go next week, it's safe to say we will struggle mightily against a solid Ole Miss defense.
Extremely Pessimistic- Steve Edmond, Adrian Phillips
Angles and tackling, Angles and tackling, Angles and tackling.
Extremely Pessimistic- Tackling
So, excluding Echols who knows how to tackle but just doesn't know who to hit, it is apparent that we are still a team that is incapable of mastering the basics of football. Diaz deserves to shoulder most of the blame here, but I have already ripped him enough. (Just kidding, you can't rip Diaz enough.) This is going to be a massive problem considering the fact that we play five more schools that run the zone read with running quarterbacks. If Texas doesn't get it together fast, and we all know they won't, it could be a very long season in the Big 12.
It's sad for me because I have only been around to see Mack Brown coach Texas football. I wish it were different and he could stay, but I don't see that as a real possibility anymore. The sense of entitlement with this Texas football team is abhorrent. They are embarrassing The University on a national level. We have become a punchline. This group is establishing a bad precedent for the modern era of Texas football and, worst of all, impeding potential progress. Changes need to be made in order to rejuvenate a dying program. I have come to accept that I will never see the "Texas Standard" during my time on campus. To continue trying to make the current situation work will only further inhibit the future and tarnish a legacy of the man credited with building it.
If I wanted shitty college football, I would have just stayed and gone to school in North Carolina.