SMO Disclaimer: I was at the game last night before the monsoon hit and didn't return after the three hour wait. Currently, I am sitting in Fort Worth with a bad cold and a headache. Because of this and the late start after the delay, I actually missed most of the second half. However, the SMO waits for no one, so here are some thoughts on what I did see last night.
It didn't really feel like a football game after the storm, but Texas dominated the TCU Horned Frogs on Saturday night and into Sunday morning. It seemed like a trap game for the Longhorns, who may have gotten a little cocky after beating down OU in the Cotton Bowl, but the team came out and took care of business. As I sit here a little spaced out early on Sunday morning, I can't help but think that this Longhorn team has a good shot at winning the Big 12.
Pessimistic- Opening Drives
If you're keeping track at home, the Longhorns have had pretty awful opening drives in six of our seven games this season. Last night was no different, as TCU blew up Johnathan Gray on two run plays before Case missed his target on third down. Someone in my section described the Longhorns offense as a "taking the first pitch" squad. It sure does feel that way. Luckily, it wasn't detrimental to the rest of the game.
Extremely Optimistic- Darrell Wyatt
When the regime collapses at the end of the year, I hope the new head coach tosses WR coach Darrell Wyatt a line. His wide receivers are playing lights out football. At the beginning of the year, this was an area of concern for the Longhorns. Multiple injuries had hindered what was supposed to be a bright spot for the offense. However, that feels like a long time ago. Against the conference's best secondary, Mike Davis, Marcus Johnson, Jaxon Shipley, and Kendall Sanders each made big contributions. With an elite passer, it feels like this unit can be unstoppable at times.
Extremely Optimistic- Marcus Johnson
Marcus Johnson is becoming an absolute playmaker for this offense. For two games in a row, Johnson has caught deep balls in stride for touchdowns. Last night, he was the leading receiver for the Longhorns with 3 catches for 120 yards and a touchdown. It felt like he could have had more scores, but for every great McCoy deep ball, he had two or three duds that were off the mark. Johnson is turning into the player a lot of us expected Kendall Sanders to be this season. He was originally an Aggie commit before the Longhorns flipped him, so consider this one a victory for Texas recruiting.
Extremely Optimistic- Defense
So, exactly how bad was Manny Diaz? Greg Robinson has turned this group into a hard-hitting and feared defensive unit. The defensive line is playing pretty outstanding, and this is the fourth game where they've caused a big turnover. The linebackers have improved significantly. Edmond had one of his best games with an interception, a big PBU, and is now leading the team in tackles this season. Santos has been an important addition because of his attitude and ability to fly to the football to make plays. He has been an important contributor in stopping the run and is seventh on the team in tackles. The secondary played well last night, but the TCU receivers helped out a lot with some pretty horrendous drops. All in all, when you only give up seven points on the road, there is very little to complain about.
Optimistic- Rushing Attack
Though it took a while for Texas to establish the running game, the Longhorns eventually got it going with a balanced attack from Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray. The two split 39 carries, which was the bulk load of the 52 attempts Saturday night. Gray lead the group in rushing yards with 94 on the night and Brown scored twice before finishing with 51 yards.
Somewhat Confused- Tyrone Swoopes
I think what we learned when Tyrone Swoopes burned his redshirt last night is that David Ash is done for the season. Reportedly, his concussion symptoms have yet to subside, so it's probably good for him to stay away from contact. The knee-jerk reaction about Swoopes getting in the game with four minutes to play was a healthy mix of anger, horror, and confusion. I fell into the latter category. Case McCoy's demeanor has won me over in press conferences with the self-deprecating humor, but I don't believe that he is our best option at quarterback. I think putting Swoopes in wasn't a bad move, but it's timing was confusing. Why put him in with only four minutes to go in the fourth quarter? Why not give him an entire quarter to acclimate himself to the game? The coaches said after the big win in Dallas that this was "Case McCoy's team and he knows that," but last night Applewhite called the quarterback situation "fluid." I'm all for burning the shirt if Swoopes is ready to play, but I didn't understand why they thought last night was the best time. Now that the shirt is burned, I bet we'll see a lot more of him in DKR against Kansas. Count me in the minority that approves of this decison.
It's been a roller coaster of emotions here at the SMO, but it does feel like things are trending upwards. However, this doesn't change any "end of season" decisions that seem to be unavoidable at this point. There's a good chance that the Texas vs. Baylor game in December will decide who wins the Big 12 and heads to the BCS. We're getting relevant again.