The Horns had one more sloppy game left in them, as they limped to a too-close-for-comfort victory over the hapless Aggies of Texas A&M.
Quarterback: Vince Young finished 13-24 for 162 yards, with 1 TD and 1 INT. He ran 11 times for 19 yards and fumbled twice, with one recovered by the Aggies. What to make of Superman's decidedly pedestrian performance? Well, it's not fair to expect everyone to have an A+ game every time out. We're happy to allow Vince an off day or two during the season. What was troubling, however, was the way he handled himself. The truly disturbing element of VY's performance was that he looked like a guy who was more interested in a Heisman trophy than in getting to the Rose Bowl. When you get down to it, that's not really true, but at least on Friday, Vince looked downright forlorn at times. Even when the Longhorns regained the lead and finally put away the Aggies, Vince looked dejected. For the first time, well, ever, I was disappointed in Vince. I certainly appreciate him wanting to perform well, and I can imagine how much he would love to be honored with the Heisman, but to let it carry over to his leadership skills on the field is disappointing. I have no doubt he'll rebound, but for this week, Grade: D
Running backs: Earlier this year, we were ready to coronate Jamaal Charles the next big thing. Maybe THE big thing. One ankle injury against Oklahoma later, and everything has changed. Charles has failed to regain his early season form, and failed to regain the trust of his coaches. He did nothing to help himself on Friday, amassing a paltry 10 yards on 5 carries, with a crucial lost fumble. Fortunately, Ramonce Taylor and Henry Melton were much better, gaining 134 yards on 18 carries, including three touchdowns. Taylor improves his running each week, but I still can't help but think that Texas' title hopes will need a healthy dose of Jamaal. The rebirth of JC must come before Palm Sunday this year. How about Big 12 championship Saturday? Grade: B-
Wide receivers: How do you grade the receivers when the quarterback is so amped up to win the Heisman trophy that he air mails two out of every three passes? I haven't exactly broken down the film to see how the receivers did in every aspect of the game, but for this week, I think the blame lies mostly with Vince. This is painful to write. Grade: N/A
Defense: They weren't exactly horrible, but they were far from good, too. 277 yards rushing to a freshman quarterback and two freshmen running backs is pretty miserable. The option defense was as bad as it was in the first half against Missouri. The requisite adjustments weren't made until the fourth quarter, and even then, it wasn't exactly a dominant performance. When Michael Griffin has 21 tackles, you know there's a problem. It was nice to see senior DT Rodrique Wright make the big defensive play of the game, bursting through the line to strip McGee of the ball when the Aggies were on the Horns' 10 yard line. We've said this before: Reggie Bush and USC won't be so kind. The run D must improve. Quickly. Grade: C
Special Teams: A blocked punt. A fake punt. Extra point problems all day for the Aggies. Good kick coverage. As noted in the post below, the special teams saved the day for Texas. That Texas can still win when almost everybody is flat is a testament to the strength of this team, and I was proud of the special teams unit for playing so well. Since 2000, no school has blocked more kicks than the Horns. On Friday, that skill was vital. Grade: A+
Coaching: For the first time this year, Texas didn't make significant halftime adjustments. Vince came out trying to do too much, and the run defense came out flailing against the run. We either missed the quarterback or the pitch man on run after run, as the Aggies ran to the outside and turned the corner at will. I'm especially disappointed in Mack Brown letting Vince flail around in Heisman frustration. At some point, somebody needed to yell at Vince, in not nice words, to get his f*@#ing head straight and just play within the offense. Vince played for four quarters as he did for a dreadful 20 minute stretch against Ohio State when he tried to be Mr. Everything. The coaches have a big week in front of them. I just didn't like the attitude I saw from the Horns on Friday. For the first time all year, I'm afraid, they just didn't Take Dead Aim. Grade: C-
Overall: A win is a win is a win, and it's appropriate that this was a Thanksgiving game, as we should all be thankful that there are no other unbeaten teams remaining. An unbeaten Penn State or Virginia Tech could be making significant strides on the Horns in that scary scenario. But the reality is that we just need to win, and win we did. You have to be impressed with the Horns ability to win when they aren't at their best--a skill that has been lacking from previous years' teams. With that said, there's clearly a lot of work to do. I'm sure they're at it as we speak. Grade: B-