Each week we'll conclude the post game reaction with five things I liked and didn't like about the game. You're encouraged to submit your own in the comments, as well.
Five Things I Liked
1. Jamaal Charles is every bit as special as we think. The running game was a major disappointment last night, but it really would have sucked if Charles were anything short of a brilliant tailback. He broke tackles, he used his superior speed to make plays, and he protected the football. It was a masterful performance, especially when you consider how many of his short gains should have been tackles for loss.
2. This is the best receiving corps Texas has fielded in the Mack Brown era. Limas Sweed is a dominant, dominant player. Nate Jones? He's arrived. Quan Cosby is one of the most versatile weapons in college football. Jermichael Finley (incompetently used last night) is special. Our receivers were great last night, even with Colt struggling. That's good.
3. We saw what a healthy Frank Okam can do. My goodness he was disruptive last night. Okam, who fell short of big expectations in 2006, looked like the Top 10 NFL Draft pick last night. As many disappointments as there were last night, we at least saw how good Okam can be. Let's hope he stays healthy.
4. Akina is willing to use a blitz. We didn't exactly execute the blitzes as well as you'd like to see. (A better team would have eaten us alive.) All too often, the pressure would come, while Palmer and Foster sat 10 yards off their receivers. Better teams can and will beat that. Still, part of the point is that college players aren't good enough to beat blitzes with consistency. You pay a dear price for an ill-conceived blitz in the NFL. In college? Teams fail to exploit it with regularity. While adjustments need to be made to how we blitz, I'm at least encouraged with Akina's willingness to use them.
5. We won. The quality of the win was piss poor, and Mack Brown owes Lloyd Carr a case of fine wine. 'Cause if Michigan doesn't suffer the worst loss in the history of college football, there's no way this could make my list of things I liked. As is, I feel fortunate to be 1-0. That's a bad omen for the rest of the year, but damnit, last night could have been worse. Wow.
Five Things I Didn't
1. Our running scheme sucks. Lateral running plays? Still? After the mess of 2006? Do I need to elaborate? I don't think I do. It's broken. Badly, badly broken.
2. Young players were underutilized. Not a single snap for John Chiles. Not a single snap for Vondrell McGee. Too few snaps for Chykie Brown and Deon Beasley. Across the board, Texas' mistake-prone veterans from the 2006 defense showed their same limitations in 2007. And all that talk about getting the backup QB some real work? Just that - talk.
3. Our linebackers have not improved. This one's the scariest problem, because there's no obvious solution. Jared Norton isn't ready to play better than Bobino. Sergio Kindle is disqualified. Rodderick Muckelroy showed great speed and athleticism early on, but disappeared after that. What do we do? This secondary needs the front seven to shield it a little bit. That's not gonna happen with such shoddy linebacker play. I'm officially pessimistic. Which sucks.
4. Our red zone offense continues to lack imagination. We didn't score a single point in the final 45 minutes of the game. How bad is that? Worst of all, Davis seemed content with mediocre. You expect to see changes made after, say, a disappointing three-loss season in which the problems were obvious ones. There were none. None at all. That's the real crime here.
5. The time for change has passed. Perhaps worst about all this is the fact that we've had eight months to fix all this stuff. What I'm really depressed about right now is not the poor quality of play. I can live with a disappointing game. The problem is that the poor quality of play was of exactly the same nature as the poor quality of play in 2006. That shows an unwillingness (or inability) to adjust and learn on the coaches' part. And if they didn't make any changes in eight months, why should we believe that there will be changes over the next six days?
I'm not sure that we should.