Texas has an extremely talented football team.
Based on recent history, some people may have started to question this fact. Some may wonder if our team is just not as talented as we think it is. Some may thing that the recruiting evaluations provided are simply inaccurate. Some may have even developed crazy conspiracy theories that Texas High School recruits’ rankings are intentionally inflated in order generate more revenue for these recruiting sites. No, the recruiting rankings are not always 100 percent correct, more often than not, they are pretty accurate.
If you don’t believe that, go back and watch the 91-yard punt return by Reggie Hemphill-Mapps on Saturday afternoon. Don’t just watch Hemphill-Mapps; watch the entire punt return team, and the talent possessed by those athletes. They won each and every individual battle there and it wasn’t close. Watch Michael Dickson kick a booming 64-yard punt down inside the Maryland 20. Watch the opening kickoff when Marques Bimmage, a 242-pound true freshman storms down the field, beating multiple blockers and lays a vicious hit on a Maryland ball carrier. Watch Armanti Foreman make a catch on a ball thrown behind him while maintaining his balance and splitting two defenders for a 33 yard touchdown. Watch Holton Hill outrun everybody on the field not once, but twice while racing into the end zone. Maybe is was just in the right place at the right time, but he put himself there, using his amazing speed to get there very quickly and then again to make sure nobody was going to catch up to him.
If that doesn’t convince you, consider this: Malik Jefferson, Devin Duevernay, Chris Daniels, Patrick Vahe, John Burt, Holton Hill, Kris Boyd, PJ Locke III, and a slew of other Longhorns all held offers from multiple major schools outside of Texas, including Alabama. Connor Williams had an offer from Ohio State, and is considered by many the top offensive linemen for the 2018 NFL draft. Are all of these out of state schools wrong? Are they simply relying on the supposedly unreliable recruit rankings and not performing their own analysis of the recruits whom they extend offers to? Doubtful.
Now once again, tell me this team does not have talent.
So, why then has this team struggled so often in the past three football seasons and to begin the Tom Herman era, as well?
The results you see are not the indication of a lack of physical talent. They are pure result of a lack of execution due to mental errors. Sure you could call this a talent, but it’s not talent in the traditional sense. If you watch the film, you will see on virtually every negative play multiple mistakes being made by the team. Too many mistakes result in big plays which result in 51-41 losses.
Realize the Maryland game was 37-34 midway through the fourth quarter with a 3rd and 19 at midfield, and the Texas defense had a chance to make a play and get off the field. They should have made a play and gotten off the field, but multiple players made errors, allowing the drive to continue, resulting in a touchdown and a 10-point lead for the Terrapins. Even then the lead was not insurmountable, had the offense been able to sustain a drive and score, but a holding penalty put them into a 2nd and 14 before three incompletions killed the drive.
Despite all of the mistakes on defense allowing multiple touchdowns, despite the mistakes on special teams giving the ball to the opponent in plus territory to start drives, despite two missed field goals and two turnover on downs in the opponents territory and despite at least three drive killing penalties, Texas remained in a position to win the game.
Now Maryland made mistakes too, but far fewer with the same consequences as Texas did. Think about that. Despite all of the gifts this team gave Maryland, they were in this game until half way through the forth quarter, and really even after that, it was only a 10-point game (each team had one garbage time score, so they cancel out). I would say that is indicative of a fairly talented team who just got beat on the field, not because they were outmatched, but because they were outperformed.