Last week hurt. I'm not going to lie. I didn't expect Texas would lose to a team they beat last year by such a large margin. Add a new coaching staff to the mix and I would have assumed TTU was a given. The question is, what does it mean for the Horns?
Do we fire coach K now? No. By every measure, the Texas defense is a lot better this year. Yes, we lost, but not because the defense was bad. If TTU had punted on any of those 4th down tries last week, and Texas probably wins this game fairly well. The problem was a mobile quarterback and a coach crazy enough to go for it on almost every 4th down. But most everything else has improved. Texas needs to learn how to bring the sacks home, but we're leading the Big 12 in QB pressures by a large margin. Give them a few weeks, and they'll start to bring it home.
The biggest problem, frankly, is much like last year. The defense is running too many plays. That is, TTU figured out how to run a godly number of offensive plays and Texas didn't have quite enough offense to give our D a break. On O, Texas was OK, but has 2 significant disadvantages. First, Card just doesn't have the deep ball this year. Especially with X off the field. Second, the minute X is out, and with Neyor gone, the deep threat disappears, opposing D's stack the box and Bijan has to do magic. He does quite well considering the circumstances. We see a lot of amazing runs and he still averages over 5 yards a carry. Break just one and he gets 60 yards or more because all of the defenders are in the box. But teams can't win this day in age with a single player. Angilou's injury diminishes the run game and Ewers injury takes away the deep ball. With all of that, and a bad Card ankle, Texas still manages to make some plays.
My biggest problem is with halftime adjustments on offense. It's fits and starts. Personally, I think Sark can do it but the weight of head coaching decisions hampers his true play calling abilities. It's why I've called for ANY Texas HC to hand the play calling duties off to an OC. Sark is great at setting up a really good first script, but he seems to struggle with what to do after the opposing D makes their changes. Additionally, it seems Sark has so many plays to chose from that he abandons what's working. Jordan Whittington was working really well in the game and it felt like we just abandoned him in the second half. If that's a Sark halftime adjustment, then we might have bigger problems. But it's still too early to tell.
All in all, Sark is in his 2nd year and still building his team. The O Line is improved and very young. Development is still the key in so many areas. I think we'll get there, I just don't know if it will be this season.If we get Ewers and X back, the deep threat reemerges and improves our odds greatly.
For WVU, it's still another trap game. TTU has revealed our weaknesses and things will have to change. We need to play the short game just like TTU did, if we want to keep winning. Whittington is legit and the short game accomplish what the run game is missing. Texas wins if we do that and stick with what's working. Get a few sacks home and we'll be fine. I like the home field advantage in this one and think Texas will be capable. We'll likely start strong, shrink back, and pull this one out. Texas 35-WVU 24.