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The SMO: Your Sunday morning optimist

The distant future is bright in Austin.

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Obligatory reminder: The SMO is usually an emotional overreaction based on the game events the day before. It does not deal in logic or reason.

Damn it.

Texas has its normal wins and Texas has its normal losses, but sometimes UT strays from the status quo and finds a new, effective way to break your heart. UT did that last night against Cal -- squandering a 10 point lead with less than two minutes to play in the first half, plunging 21 points behind, charging back with 20 unanswered points before falling a PAT short of forcing overtime.

Damn it.

Very optimistic - Jerrod Heard

What UT fans saw last night from redshirt freshman QB Jerrod Heard should inspire them again. Heard finished his record-setting night with 527 yards of total offense -- the most ever for a Longhorn. 364 of those came through the air, 163 of them came on the ground. He also rushed for three touchdowns. Want to feel optimistic? Texas has finally solved its quarterback problem.

It'll be a work in progress and it won't be pretty at times. Heard still needs a little fine-tuning on his accuracy because he was behind on a lot of balls to his WRs last night. He also needs to be more patient looking for a WR before committing to the run.

With a struggling offensive line, Heard's mobility adds a very important dimension to the offense. For the first time in a long time, it feels like Texas can drive the field and score when it has to.

Take pride in this Longhorn fans: Texas is no longer the most QB-inept team in the state. That honor now belongs to the Houston Texans.

Very optimistic - 2017

I'm an advocate of playing all the freshmen not because they give the Longhorns the best chance to win, but because it prepares this team for the future. Here are some young guys who are getting worthwhile experience this season: John Burt, Jerrod Heard, Malik Jefferson, Kris Boyd, Breckyn Hager, Holton Hill, Ryan Newsome, DeAndre McNeal and P.J. Locke. Yeah, they are making a lot of mistakes, but that should be expected. This point could become an SMO staple: Play all the freshmen. Burn all the shirts. It'll pay off in the long-term.

Some "Youngin" stats:

Redshirt frosh QB Jerrod Heard: 25/39, 494 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT. 36 carries, 247 yards, 3 TDs.

True frosh WR John 'Big Play' Burt: 6 catches, 182 yards, 1 TD

Sophomore RB D'Onta Foreman: 18 carries, 75 yards, 2 TDs

True frosh LB Malik Jefferson: 27 total tackles (team leading), 3.5 tackles for loss, 1 fumble recovery for TD

A freshman or sophomore is leading or next-to-leading the Longhorns in almost every major statistical category.

If I was a Texas A&M fan, I'd be scared straight by the young stars at Texas. The Aggies better make a serious move in the SEC soon, or we could experience another recruiting shift in this state favoring of the Longhorns.

When these guys are upperclassmen in 2017, I have a feeling expectations will be where they should be again.

Optimistic - Daje Johnson

DJ is finding a way to make plays for the Longhorns again. Last week, he had over 100 punt return yards and a touchdown. This week, he was UT's top receiving threat. He finished the Cal game with five catches for 145 yards and was one of JH's favorite targets.

We've all seen what Johnson can do. If he manages to stay out of trouble, he could shine again in his senior season.

Optimistic - UT President Greg Fenves

On Tuesday, UT President Greg Fenves pulled the plug on the failed Steve Patterson experiment. The move wasn't a major surprise, but the timing was quicker than many imagined.

Texas is not an easy program to run. Unlike other "power programs," there are a lot of variables at play in Austin. Boosters, donors, fans, regents and oil money all believe they have a say in the decisions being crafted in Bellmont. You don't find that in Ann Arbor, State College, Columbus, Tuscaloosa, Los Angeles or, in Patterson's case, Phoenix. It's unique to UT.

While I didn't agree with a lot of his policies, I will say this: Steve Patterson was exactly what Texas needed two years ago. UT didn't need a professional ass-kisser to tuck in the boosters at night and sing them "The Eyes of Texas." It needed a hatchet man. That was Patterson's role, and today Texas has two phenomenal coaches as a result. You can blame him for a lot of things, but credit him for that.

Patterson's personality was never going to mesh well with the UT alums -- an hour of vetting could have revealed that. He did what he was brought here to do.

Where Texas goes from here is important. It could regress to the late era of DeLoss Dodds, where outside influencers affected important athletics decisions. Or it could move forward and find a successful AD who has the ability to manage booster relations and running a major athletics program. Someone who understands the value in nostalgia, alumni relations, the band, tradition, game day experience, winning, and profitability is what the University needs, but it doesn't have to be another "good ol' boy."