A friend of mine at ND told me once that Jesus celebrates Fighting Irish touchdowns. Kinda seems more plausible than Texas scoring one— Adrienne Crickmer (@AdriAnneCrick) September 6, 2015
If we are being honest with ourselves, we should have seen this coming. On paper, the 2015 Texas Longhorns just aren't a very good football team. During the 2014 season, the Longhorns rode a solid defense and a putrid offense to a six win season. Coming into 2015, the defense seemed quite likely to take a step back, losing seven of its ten leading tacklers from the previous fall, and replacing many of these top performers with inexperienced players.
And while there were hopes for offensive improvement -- and that improvement may still come -- the Texas attack was so insipid during 2014 that a considerable improvement could have produced an offense that was still not particularly good. This improvement would have to happen with a squad that lost its two top receivers, starts two true freshman on the offensive line, and may not have a Big 12 caliber quarterback. But, offensive scheme change, and everything -- like we haven't heard this story before.
When the Notre Dame Fighting Irish drop-kicked the Texas Longhorns on national television last Saturday night, embarrassing the Longhorns 38-3, we should not have been too surprised.
For family reasons, I found myself quite unexpectedly watching the game in Battle Creek, Michigan (where the local news reports that someone is shooting at cars on Interstate 94 -- yes, this feels about right for central Michigan). As I settled in to watch the game, I did not have particularly high hopes, but they still play the games for a reason.
In the end, my not particularly high hopes were too high. The rebuild of Texas football continues, and it is going to be ugly at times.
I realize for Texas football fans, this process can be sort of tough. As someone who grew up as a fan of the Cleveland Browns, I consider myself a connoisseur of bad football (and poor offensive line play). Rebuilds are frustrating, and they take time.
So it is time to settle down and show that stiff upper lip you are so proud of. This is a rebuild. This is what it looks like, for those of you who have never experienced one. It is going to be pretty rocky for at least this season; we may see signs of life in the fall of 2016.
The worst thing about a rebuild is that, just because you are doing one, there is absolutely no guarantee that it will work. By 2016, 2017, and 2018 Texas football may still not be very good. Or it might.
You just have to accept the process, take your lumps, and hope for the best.
So cheer up, and remember it could always be worse; the Longhorn Band could be issuing statements today denying that their halftime performance depicted a sex act.
Charlie Strong broke tendency at the start of the game, declining his standard mock turtleneck, and instead wearing a collared shirt. And a headset.
"Everything's bigger in Texas" apparently includes Charlie Strong's headphones. pic.twitter.com/RM1H2oI96G— Ryan Brown (@RyanBrownWJOX) September 5, 2015
Strong's headset drew a lot of comments, perhaps because his headphones resembled something that should have been plugged into a Heath Kit amplifier pumping out a Moody Blues record.
I see Charlie Strong ordered the XXL headset. #NDvsTexas— John Garrett (@RecoveringCPA) September 5, 2015
Does Charlie Strong's hilariously oversized headset have its own Twitter account?— Paul Costanzo (@PaulCostanzo) September 5, 2015
But the attention quickly turned to what was happening on the field.
Newfound leader Tyrone Swoopes engineers a familiar sight of an opening drive 3 & out.— Stephen Beam (@sbeam2011) September 5, 2015
Ah, yes, let's talk about Tyrone Swoopes. It seems as if it was only yesterday that Texas fans were calling for him to play. But that was when Swoopes was the backup quarterback, the most popular player on any struggling football team. Now that he is the starter, he doesn't have nearly the same level of support. These days, Texas redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard is the Texas QB mystery-man whom fans can pour all their hopes into.
Hope there's a quick hook if Swoopes struggles. I've wanted Heard to start anyway #Longhorns— Brian McDonald (@sackedbybmac) September 5, 2015
Heard>Swoopes— Colton Beyer (@CBeyer85) September 5, 2015
While for some fans, replacing Swoopes with Heard seemed the obvious answer, at least one had a more original idea.
Honest to God, I have never seen a more nonathletic QB. I wish Charlie would go ahead and bench him. Bevo would be better than Swoopes.— MrAk1n (@CaseyAkin_) December 30, 2014
This is actually kind of brilliant. Replacing the 6-4, 144 lb Swoopes with a 5-8, 1800 lb steer would certainly change the dynamic of the Texas offense. It stands to reason that Bevo would likely hold up much better against the pass rush frequently allowed by Texas' troubled offensive line.
Hunting for the scapegoat
Texas football requires a designated coach at whom fans can direct their white hot rage. For years, the role was filled by Greg Davis. Then Manny Diaz took a turn, before yielding to Mack Brown.
And now Shawn Watson is the next man up.
Please @Strong_TexasFB FIRE SHAWN WATSON!!!!!!!— Bevo (@UTexasBevo) September 6, 2015
Man. It's been a minute since I berated Shawn Watson. Gotta warm up.— Michael Scaljon (@mickscal) September 5, 2015
Please leave Shawn Watson in Indiana. See if he can move north-south and find his way home. If he can find Austin, fire him anyway.— David H (@davidtweets4you) September 6, 2015
I don't want to take a stand on if Shawn Watson is the right man to run the Texas offense. At least not yet.
But he has become the official lightning rod coordinator of Texas football. And this will continue until he is replaced, or the offense improves.
Jolt to the system
It may be the suddenness of the Notre Dame loss that makes it so hard for some people to take. Most seasons, the Texas Longhorns start off with one or two (or three) easy games giving fans time to hunt for clues of trouble, while still winning games. By the time the trouble leads to a loss against a tougher opponent, people are at least somewhat prepared for it.
But this season, we did not have these warm up games to get acclimated, and to enjoy a few easy wins while we searched for problems. This season, the problems were dumped out on the table in front of us, all at once.
In the second season with a new coaching staff, and after landing a pretty strong class of recruits, optimism can run high. The most ecstatic of fans during these times tend to let their imaginations get the better of them.
Now, there is nothing wrong with this. It is fine to get excited for a new season, and to turn the optimism dial all the way up. You just have to keep in mind it is going to make the crash pretty damn hard when it comes. And last Saturday evening, that crash came.
The Final word
How ironic is it that we're being sued because we allegedly have two offensive coordinators? #hookem— Hook'em Fans (@HookEmFans) September 6, 2015