We can and will move on from this game, but this site is more than a fan site - it's a place for analysis. So while nobody's disappointment will carry over to next week, it's important that we discuss what went wrong, and why. And a lot went wrong on defense.
Defensive Line One of the things I love about Gene Chizik is that he simplifies things and plans on controlling the game with superior execution. But part of the plan involves the defensive line getting pressure on the quarterback, and the front four just weren't that successful Saturday night.
None of the defensive ends had any success getting a consistent pass rush going, and though Roy Miller and Frank Okam played solidly, neither was bursting through the line with much regularity. This was neither the unit's best nor worst game of the season. They were just average. Which for this particular night, anyway, wasn't good enough. Grade: C+
Linebackers Rashaad Bobino and Robert Killebrew must be driving Gene Chizik crazy. They were certainly driving me crazy on Saturday night. Killebrew has about as much lateral movement as I do, which is to say he has very, very little. Bobino takes awful routes to the ball, and Saturday night, he missed a handful of critical tackles as well.
But most embarrassing (and confusing) of all last night was the linebackers' inability to get any pressure on the quarterback. When it became apparent that Texas wasn't getting much done with the front four, Chizik would order a linebacker or two in on the blitz. Routinely, that meant six Texas defenders crashing in on five Wildcat blockers. Yet they never broke through. How does that happen? I'm honestly stumped.
Scott Derry had a pretty solid game, but it's not like he's Derrick Johnson out there, able to make all kinds of plays on his own. Maybe Sergio Kindle's not ready, but I'd say the time to get him in there over Killebrew is about 24 hours ago. Texas still has some important business to take care of, and I'm certain Chizik will work hard with this group to get better play out of them for the final two games, but they just laid an egg last night. Grade: D
Secondary Um... Where do we start? I'm going to try to be careful in writing about this group's performance last night, because there are some special seniors in Texas' secondary that have meant so much to us over the last four years. Aaron Ross and Michael Griffin have just been outstanding as a whole, and it's not terribly constructive to throw them under the bus for not coming through last night.
There wasn't much quality play from anyone out there last night, though, and I think the numbers pretty much speak for themselves. Kansas State became yet another team to pass for 300 yards on this group, and Texas fans must now just hope that the group can put things together for a couple more games.
One thing that seems clear is that Michael Griffin, who excelled as the free safety with Michael Huff at strong safety, isn't nearly as well suited to now play Huff's role. His run support is unparalleled, but his coverage support at strong safety isn't up to par. Meanwhile, twin brother Marcus Griffin had his worst night of the season and is showing little ability to be an everydown safety at this level. At some point, it becomes impossible to chalk things up as an aberration. This is a pattern. The safeties aren't providing enough help in pass coverage. I'll leave the solution to Duane Akina, and trust him to sort through what's been going wrong, but it's awfully clear that there's a serious problem. Grade: F
Defensive Coaching When Texas went into the half, I still felt good about the 'Horns chances. Chizik had done a terrific job in prepping his defense for the second halves of games this season. In each case, Chizik's adjustment usually meant simplifying things and emphasizing the straight base defense. He did that once again last night, but this time Texas' defenders just didn't have the stops in them.
The easy answer is to say Chizik should have made more changes, but at some point, you just have to tip your cap to the other team for outplaying you. Josh Freeman just kept making great throws. The receivers kept hauling in the passes. And that was that. We couldn't quite score enough to overcome the 21 point deficit.
The biggest job for Chizik is getting the defense back on track and confident for the rest of the stretch run. I can't fault him for his defenders' poor evening, but with the consistent problems in the passing game that we're seeing, it's incumbent upon him to start making adjustments of some sort. For last night, a disappointing effort from the defense, and a Grade: C for the man in charge.