In which Hopkins Horn offers himself up to the BON masses as a giant human piñata...
(And, yes, I know I'm writing this a couple of days later than is probably relevant. I wanted this up Monday night, but real life intervened. Damn you, real life! So since this most done and a little bit of pain isn't a bad thing, I'm posting anyway. Enjoy poking the piñata!)
Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.
Sitting in the stands of DKRTMS late Saturday afternoon, I thought I might have finally come full circle. If you had told me in the aftermath of the debacle that was the 2003 Holiday Bowl, when I was frantically awaiting confirmation of the long-desired firing of Greg Davis, that I would one day morph into a defender of his on a Longhorn board, I would have looked at you like you were crazy.
But a defender I more or less became on BON. I didn't mean for it to happen, but for every well thought-out critique of Davis posted on these pages, five inane ones begging for rebuttal seemed to find a home. Too many posters who wanted to blame Davis for every minor offensive failings while failing to acknowledge that he might have had at least a teensy weensy tiny bit to do with Texas having, over the past five seasons, two of the most prolific offenses of all time while helping to develop two quarterbacks who were Heisman runners-up. To read some Davis detractors, one would believe that Texas only succeeded in recent years when Young and McCoy stopped listening to Davis and started ad-libbing. I might not have stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but even I can recognize that insubordination was most likely not the key to our offensive successes in recent seasons.
Arguing whether or not Greg Davis has been a successful offensive coordinator at Texas, though, has been thoroughly debated and is ultimately not the point of this post. I only offer the above personal limited general defense of Davis over the past few years to set up the fact that, when I watch us play this season, it's 2003 all over again in my eyes. I get the personnel issues with which we have to deal, but I'm seeing what most of us here on BON have been seeing: an inert offense with a talented quarterback on a leash. I can't defend what I've been seeing, and I hadn't written a word in defense in Davis all season.
And after Saturday's debacle -- on defense, on special teams, but especially on offense -- I was about ready to jump off the deep end with everyone else and call for GD to be burned at the stake, or whatever the preferred punishment around these parts is nowadays.
I hadn't the slightest clue that I would be writing a piece for BON defending Greg Davis, even a defense addressing a very specific and limited criticism.
But then the silliness began.
The specific silliness of blaming Greg Davis for the defensive collapse in the second. "Oh, the defense did all it could and played a tremendous game, but it was too tired from having to bail the offense out continuously." You don't have to look too hard on BON over the past few days to find multitudes of arguments like that one.
(I sense that the more precise silliness involved here is an unwillingness to pin Saturday's failures of the defense on Will Muschamp when a less-revered scapegoat will do. But that's for another post.)
(But note that I said above "especially" on offense. By daring to critique the defensive performance on Saturday, I am by no means trying to create any sort of moral equivalency. The offense was far worse. Putrid. Awful. Abominable. Horrendous. Horrible. Repulsive. And Greg Davis was personally responsible for each and every one of these adjectives. I would never, ever use any of those words to describe our defensive performance on Saturday. So no embarrassing equivalency here!)
So was the defense really doing all it could until it reached an unavoidable physical point of no return?
If your idea of the "physical point of no return" is returning to the field at the start of the third quarter after resting for 20 minutes at halftime after playing a staggering 15:41 in the first half, then the answer is most definitely "yes".
And though UCLA did end the game with a overall TOP of 35:29, the 10+ minute discrepancy didn't start to kick in until UCLA ran 8:19 off the clock in the fourth quarter, a game-killing drive which started after UCLA had a 27-6 lead after two third-quarter touchdown drives, all but six yards of which were on the ground.
How are these third-quarter defensive failings the fault of Greg Davis? How was the defense too tired to carry on as effectively (and, yes, they were effective) as it had played in the first half?
If the defense really was so tired after taking the field for 15:41 in the first half that UCLA could ram the ball down our throats, perhaps there's a conditioning issue at play more than an issue of an offensive coordinator being such a vortex of suck that he brings the defense down with him.
(And, just to be clear, he is a complete and total vortex of suck. I'm not sure if there has ever been a suckier man to grace the Forty Acres than Greg Davis. Hell, he's probably the suckiest man to ever live in the state of Texas. And that includes beergut. And if it wasn't for Matt Leinart, he'd have a chance of being the Suckiest Person in America. Just wanted to make all this clear in case anyone though I was trying to equate Muschamp's struggles Saturday with Davis'. I am sooooo not doing that.)
Look, people, I want to join you on the Fire Greg Davis train. I know it's where all the cool kids here at BON hang out.
But it would be a lot easier if you limited blaming Davis to, you know, things Davis is actually to blame for.
That is all. Pick up your sticks over to the left and start whacking. Please aim for the buttcheeks. They're still pretty large after my Assgroove Saturday on the couch a couple of weeks back. Several cans of Fritos Bean Dip will do that to you.