First, Texas wins. It wasn't exactly pretty, but honestly? After seeing what happened to Michigan today, the "A win is a win" pill is a lot easier to swallow. I'll take it.
Second, though Texas was decidedly mediocre this evening, the outcome was never in question. 21-13 over Arkansas State is a depressing score to look at in the morning paper, but I can't say that I was ever worried we'd lose.
Finally, I have to note how positively happy I was that a small Texas game watching party came together at my apartment in South Bend. Five BONers wound up coming over to watch the game with me, and though none of us were terribly impressed with the performance, it was great to be amongst friends.
With that said? It's tempting to start ranting about the letdowns in this game. But as I was sitting down to do so, I reminded myself of this post from Thursday night. In particular, I made myself re-read these points:
Don't read too much into the game. This might be my biggest concern, to be honest. All the injuries Texas has suffered to receivers this summer and fall have led Texas to list a fullback as a starter. A fullback. As in, I-formation. As in, we're a running team first.
I'm not going to make the mistake that I'm highlighting here and read too much into it (this is Arkansas State), but I hope the opposite is true, too: When we run over, around, and through Arkansas State on Saturday, our coaches need to be careful not to interpret that as a sign that we're a RunFirst team. Rushing the football is important, and something we must improve from a year ago, but this is Colt's team and an offense which can be extraordinarily explosive if we play to our strengths.
Mack, if you're out there - I beg of you: spread it out this season, pass the ball, let teams try to figure out how to stop our running game when they're scared shitless of what Colt McCoy and his army of receivers might do to them.
Two points here.
- Just as we shouldn't have read too much into a hypothetical blowout, we shouldn't get too carried away with the actual final score, which was closer than it should have been. I'll spend my fair share of words on the shortcomings of the Texas performance during the positional breakdowns, but for now, overall, I'm content with accepting the fact that we were just a little bit off tonight.
- The coaches didn't show any aversion to running a pass-first, spread-based offensive attack. Colt McCoy was off tonight, but from the get-go, it was clear that the aerial assault was the primary focus. We'll get into the details of all this tomorrow, but for now, I'm at least happy that there wasn't an identity crisis.
Now. With all that said, the game was a disappointment overall. All of this will be discussed in greater detail in the positional and scheme breakdowns, but here's the quick and dirty list of head shakers:
*The running game, while not bad, was all too reminiscent of 2006.
*The linebackers continue to be a source of more disappointment than excitement.
*Tweedle Dee was... well, he wasn't good.
*The secondary as a whole was inconsistent.
*The personnel decisions are going to be a point of contention. And soon.
Those are the big points of weakness which stood out to me tonight. I'll go ahead and note right now that A) I saw enough talent on the field today to believe this team can win the Big 12, and B) the coaches have a lot of work left to do to get us to the point where that can happen.
For tonight? Let's enjoy the return of football, be glad we're not Michigan fans, and try to reflect on what we saw tonight. The temptation here is to point to the sky and note its apparently rapid descent. But I saw tonight as much good as I did bad. I thought Texas had two categories of problems tonight - those that were structural, and those that were more a case of being a bit off.
I'm not worried about winning 21-13 over Arkansas State. I am worried about the structural problems. It's just important that we distinguish the two, and focus our attention on the latter.
That's what we'll do tomorrow.