According to Texas Longhorns senior offensive guard Sedrick Flowers, the reason why fellow senior Marcus Hutchins played so poorly at right tackle on Saturday when he entered the game as the replacement for injured junior Kent Perkins was simple -- Hutchins wasn't prepared to play.
"The guy who came in could have done a better job," Flowers said. "The next guy up needs to make sure there's no dropoff. You can't say, 'Well, I haven't had a lot of reps,' as an excuse."
Hutchins was responsible for giving up two of the seven sacks of redshirt freshman quarterback Jerrod Heard and did look noticeably unprepared, failing to block either blitzing defender on an Oklahoma State fire zone blitz on a sack that cost Texas three points when it knocked the Horns out of field-goal range.
Offensive line coach Joe Wickline gave his own critique of Hutchins' play, quickly pulling him in favor of junior college transfer Tristan Nickelson.
The most disappointing aspect of the whole situation is that Hutchins is the first offensive lineman off the bench for the Longhorns and started every game last season, so he knew he was going to play against Oklahoma State, even if it was only going to be for a few snaps. And as a senior, he should understand the level of preparation that is necessary to step in and succeed in such situations.
As for the player who delivered the unequivocal message, Flowers doesn't exactly have a sterling record when it comes to his own on-field leadership abilities after committing two ugly personal foul penalties in the first three games, but head coach Charlie Strong has spoken repeatedly about the need for upperclassmen to take ownership of the team. Players policing each other over effort to create accountability is a positive step in that direction, even if it probably should've remained behind the closed doors of Moncrief Neuhaus.
Another sign of emerging ownership by the team? A one-hour meeting led by the seniors before practice on Sunday evening. The message from senior center Taylor Doyle was simple:
Doyle's message was this is critical point in the season. Team can either give up & let season crumble, or step up & get things rolling.— Taylor Gaspar (@Taylor_Gaspar) September 28, 2015
Strong is most worried about his upperclassmen being able to recover from the heartbreaking losses -- the freshmen just to go and play. So to see leadership coming from the seniors could be a positive sign for the Longhorns.
Now the next step is making sure that every scholarship player prepares like a starter every week.